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What if you could increase the accessibility of your App? While we’re at it, what if you reached a greater audience, reduced deployment complexity and reduced training costs?

Bots are the new Apps

In 2016, companies are facing unique challenges in their efforts to transform themselves. In their quest for diversity and inclusion, companies are challenged to step away from their comfort zones and to unlock new opportunities. Imagine for a moment that you are tasked with hiring a niche candidate. The company you work for is primarily English-speaking and the best candidate for the job speaks Spanish, is blind and deaf. Would you pass up this opportunity because of accessibility?

Understanding context, intent and the behavior of a button on a User Interface (UI) is not a trivial task.

Let’s think about this for a moment. Today’s technology is pretty remarkable. As you are reading this blog post, we are communicating across time, cultures and geographies. This interaction is conducted without rehearsals or coaching because language is a flexible interface.

The human language is the new UI

Today we have conversations over a multitude of channels. Whether it’s over Skype, text/SMS, E-Mail, Slack, Web Chat, Facebook or other popular services, we have the ability to leverage technology that allows individuals who speak different languages to converse. Let’s reflect on the following: imagine for a moment, an employee that leverages Skype Translate to translate their question from Spanish to English. A moment later, an English response is received and translated back to Spanish. The communication was successful and throughout this interaction, one of the participants’ leveraged braille keyboard.

Braille is a tactile writing system used by people who are blind or visually impaired. It is traditionally written with embossed paper. Braille-users can read computer screens and other electronic supports thanks to refreshable braille displays. They can write braille with the original slate and stylus or type it on a braille writer, such as a portable braille note-taker, or on a computer that prints with a braille embosser. more

Conversations can be made accessible to a wide audience by adjusting the language. For example, I can speak with my two-year-old using simple words and sentences. And I can also have a discussion with an expert via domain-specific language that is succinct and pact with meaning. The challenge we face every day, is to adjust to our audience.

Infuse intelligence into all conversations

With context comes great opportunity. Imagine a sales process driven by a conversation. Where we are guided through the process by questions. With a nudge from cognitive services, conversations are elevated to a whole new level. And we are presented with strategies and information based on prior opportunities. If the business changes its sales process, the conversation is adjusted to reflect new the policies and the seller continues to perform as they transform.

Conversations are rich dynamic experiences

We communicate through voice, text and video which are rich with metadata. Until now, extracting situational intelligence from these mediums was out of reach. With the commoditization of AI (Artificial Intelligence), everything has changed. Natural Language understanding, Linguistic Analysis, Speaker Recognition, Recommendations, Computer Vision and Machine Learning are now within our reach. Just imagine the possibilities…

Like humans, Bots aren’t bound to a specific ecosystem, platform or device.

Bots enable us to have conversations. In today’s App focused world, we deal with lots of complexity around supporting multiple deployed versions of our code. We can’t force everyone to update when we deploy to the store. Like Web Apps, Bots can drastically reduce deployment complexities, because there is no need to deploy code to devices. Bots leverage existing channels and join our contact lists. They become that go-to contact, when we’re looking to delegate, organize or find contextual answers. In a sense, they’re experts that help us get things done. The reduction in training costs comes from the fact that dialogs drive the interaction. A dialog can change over time and we adapt. We do this every day, with our family, friends, peers and strangers.

We are no longer afraid to try, experiment and iterate

From the business’ perspective, deployments are greatly simplified and training is practically eliminated, this results in a dramatic increase in overall business agility. We are no longer afraid to try, experiment and iterate.

Obviously, at this point Bots sound like a silver bullet. Be cautious with that thought, because Bots are just an other type of User Interface (UI). People have spent lifetimes mastering the art of communication. Expressing intent, ideas and concepts clearly is not easy. This is why I think that as technologists, we’re going to collaborate with individuals whose expertise may include disciplines like psychology, history, communications, sociology, art, literature, philosophy, religion, culture, anthropology…

Bots must have a personality.

Think back, remember when we moved from text-based UIs to click based UIs. Then think about when we evolved to touch based UIs and we had to change our approach. Graphical Designers became obsessed with behavior and User Experiences (UX). Today, successful Apps leverage Tech, Art and Business focused individuals. I believe that Bots will need a human touch to succeed. And I am absolutely impatient to meet those who will create Conversational User Interfaces (CUIs). I hope that their designs will be diverse, accessible, inclusive, and above all else, I hope they will disrupt.

I believe that Bots are the new Apps, because they bring us closer to ubiquitous computing, where science fiction becomes our new normal.

Ubiquitous computing is a concept in software engineering and computer science where computing is made to appear anytime and everywhere.

What if people could literally have a conversation with your App?

Share your thoughts in the comments below

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  1. Dew Drop - October 31, 2016 (#2356) - Morning Dew - October 31, 2016

    […] Bots are the new Apps (Alexandre Brisebois) […]

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