This could well be a typical day in the year 2020, with conversational user interfaces becoming an integral part of our lives.
You wake up in the morning and realize you are out of milk. “I’m out of milk,” you say. Your voice assistant responds, “Shall I order milk for you?” Within minutes, the milk is delivered to your home. The local supermarket has your bank account details and they debit your account automatically.
When you head out for a jog, “read me the news” you say and the voice assistant will play the news highlights of the day. It will tell you how many calories you lost and recommend what you should eat for breakfast when you get back.
After a short while, you make a cab booking by telling your phone to “get a cab now.” Later in the day, you ask your voice assistant to order a gift for a friend or loved one.
When you’re heading to a new location, the voice assistant will suggest which outfit to wear and give you driving directions. What’s more, it will also suggest what you should talk about on your first date.
This is a reality that the world is inching towards, slowly, but surely. It will not be long before the war over voice assistants takes hold in the consumer technology space.
The rise of conversational user interfaces has challenged developers to increase their knowledge of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence in order to make it easier for devices to understand and respond using a natural interaction method.
There are two types of conversational user interfaces – chatbots and virtual voice assistants. While people can type to chatbots, they can talk to voice assistants. Chatbots are great in resolving customer issues or handling complex problems. However, it is the voice assistants that truly simplify human – machine interaction, eliminating the need to type into the device. The focus is on helping machines decipher human language, without the need to follow syntax or a certain code. Technology companies have begun to compete with each other through their voice offerings – be it Google Home or Amazon Echo.
In the near future, brands will compete with each other to develop customized, interactive, virtual personal assistants (VPAs), capable of performing multiple tasks and responding to specific needs. The VPAs will be able to change TV channels, increase indoor temperature, play music and grant security access for conducting repairs.
This transformation will take place eventually, with VPAs replacing apps in becoming valuable touchpoints for customers. Voice search will drive ecommerce and artificial intelligence (AI) will help customers find what they need.
This Is The Beginning of The Post-App Era
Customers are making smart choices when it comes to app downloads. Instead of downloading or purchasing new apps, they have become choosy and limit themselves to certain apps that they find most useful. The downward trend observed in the number of apps being used indicate the start of the post-app era.
Taylor Holland reported in a recent article:
Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner, said in a press release, “We are witnessing the beginning of the post-app era based on the evidence that users are starting to use fewer apps actively on their smartphones. At the end of 2016, only 33 percent of survey respondents used six to 10 apps a month, which is down 6.2 percent from a year ago.”
By 2018, 30% of Our interactions With Technology Will Be Through Conversations
Machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) have advanced, creating interesting user experiences for customers. This is evident from Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Echo and Alexa. Having conversations with machines will eliminate the need to type or have visual touchpoints. This will help reach out to a demographic that was ignored – differently-abled people, who will be empowered to do a lot more, simply through their voice interactions. Conversational user interfaces will soon become as ubiquitous as having mobile phones.
Chen Levkovich and Zuznow said in a recent article:
“Being a natural interaction method for humans, voice computing will tremendously increase user engagement with applications and will increase KPIs by providing a natural way for people to achieve their goals. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 30 percent of our interactions with technology will be through “conversations” with smart machines.”
Zero-touch user interfaces will challenge developers to create software that accomplishes multiple tasks by using voice commands. Computers will be able to understand natural language, making it easier for people to find solutions and get things done.
People Speak Up To 4 Times Faster Than They Can Type
Voice will reign supreme over chatbots as people can speak up to 4 times faster than they can type. This means that people will be able to accomplish more and be more efficient in a given time. People will use conversational user interfaces to fulfil their personal and professional goals, without the hassles involved in learning how to use the device.
Charles Arthur said in a recent article in The Guardian:
“Why should Google care about Amazon? Because voice is seen as the next big field for computer interaction, and the home is a far better environment for voice detection than the great outdoors. Research company Gartner reckons that by 2018, 30% of all interactions with devices will be voice-based, because people can speak up to four times faster than they can type, and the technology behind voice interaction is improving all the time.”
Voice interaction for devices at home makes sense as voice detection works better at home, without external noise distractions. Technology that makes it possible to get things done, without sweating it out will make life easier for everyone.
Conversation More Effective Than Ads Or Videos
Research has shown that conversations are more effective than advertisements or videos in engaging with customers and offering a satisfying customer experience. It allows brands to connect with prospective customers by understanding their needs and reaching out to them. Such conversations allow brands to get deep insights into what customers actually need and fill the gaps in responding to these needs.
Adelyn Zhou said in a recent article:
“Conversation and rapport building is significantly more effective than a simple ad or video view. The interaction leaves users with an entertaining experience, a better understanding of the brand, and a positive emotional feeling. Many times, we see users enjoy the experience so much that they share it with friends (screenshotting conversations, updating profiles, linking in conversations), made easily possible as these chatbots live on top of social networks.”
Voice Assistants To Drive Search
What remains to be seen is how conversational user interfaces, in particular, voice assistants will transform the ecommerce landscape. Will it eliminate the need for screens, icons, switches or user interfaces in devices of the future? Only time will tell.