All the hype about bots last year had everyone jumping in to use bots for everything from ordering a pizza via text (https://www.dominos.com/chat-pizza-order/) and solving support issues when buying video games online to bridging heritage enterprise software UI into an effective and fast ‘war room’ conversation. Some people even went as far as announcing that the world of smartphone applications is about to die and everything will be conversational UIs.
The opportunity was huge because, user experience is all about storytelling. Bots offered the promise of delivering the ultimate user experience by creating a simple layer of UI that connects ‘all the dots’ in a friendly and easy to consume way.
For some specific structured use cases, it’s relatively simple and effective to architect (like ordering pizza), but when it comes to engaging with unstructured data or the conversation doesn’t go as expected, then things start to fail.
One way to solve this problem is to task an army of scientists to develop an AI platform that has enough algorithm power to steer out of the storm as Google has done with their duplex project https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5VN56jQMWM. The other option is to mitigate potential failure points by creating a creative user experience using guided questions and smart interactions in order to lead the user successfully through the chasm
For enterprise software, the opportunity is even bigger. Bots have an amazing ability to create an effective war room and have enormous promise to help bridge the gap when modernizing heritage enterprise applications. They not only can solve the same problems that exist in the consumer space when dealing with unstructured data in enterprise environments, but they can serve as an alternative interface for mitigating a broken UI for an enterprise app with ‘smart business logic’ and millions of lines of spaghetti code by providing a conversational interface which is simple, clear and intuitive.
At Micro Focus, we decided to map out and experiment how to solve these issues in the enterprise domain.
The key two insights from this work are:
1) Until AI becomes mature, it’s important to identify and pinpoint the ‘right scenarios and use cases’ where we can bring value in by using a bot, such as opening and addressing support tickets
2) You need to have a user friendly UX to mitigate when things go wrong and the ‘bot goes lost’. For this we created ‘Chabot UX guidelines’ — http://uxchatops.com/ — clear user experience guidelines that our PM, UX, Design and R&D can leverage when working on their solutions (You are welcome to test drive it)
At days end, bots will probably be a significant part of our future but won’t dominate it. They will simply become another interface that we use to interact with things within our world and another step toward a world in which technology works for use. Until such a time as AI platforms are fully mature, we will need to incorporate smart user experience approaches in order to create the illusion that all ‘the dots are connected’ seamlessly in the story of life.
What do you think?