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CONVERSATIONAL
UI: TALKING LOUD
AND SAYING
PLENTYDANIEL HARVEY
2TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY
enterprise, engage with the app on
average ten hours per day during
the ...
3TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY
But, in the cloud era, all that could change.
What’s important to realiz...
4TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY
As renowned tech strategist Ben
Thompson puts it, “Conversations are
nev...
5TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY
Infinite chat integrations
into branded ecosystems
Brands have always fi...
6TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 6
The tables below explore examples across six major industry verticals,...
7TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 7TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY
AUTOMOTIVE
As the cate...
8TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 8TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY
DESIGNING CHATBOT INTE...
9TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY
Bots are the Trojan horse for
artificial intelligence
Bots are a preoccu...
10TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY
Branded chat personas at work
Many people already use services like
Nik...
Daniel Harvey
Creative Director & Global Practice Lead,
Experience Design, SapientNitro London
dharvey@sapient.com
Daniel ...
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Conversational UI: Talking Loud and Saying Plenty | By Daniel Harvey, Creative Director & Global Practice Lead, Experience Design, SapientNitro London

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Software is eating the world. That’s what famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen said in a Wall Street Journal article in 2011. Fast forward five years and it’s clear that he was correct – software is indeed ubiquitous.

But not all software is equal. Messaging apps are experiencing a meteoric rise above all others. Flurry, a mobile analytics firm, says that messaging app sessions saw a 103 percent rise globally as far back as 2014, and sustained a 51 percent rise in 2015. General-purpose chat app WhatsApp had 50 percent greater traffic than all global text message use. And WeChat, the dominant chat app in China, had more mobile transactions over the 2016 Chinese New Year than PayPal had during all of 2015.

This evolution of messaging platforms and the rise of chatbots represents a paradigm shift in our always-on world. Marketers now have the opportunity to be more plugged in to their target consumers’ conversations. And, as a business today, it is critical to understand this mega-trend and respond in short order. This is the dawn of the “post app” era and will be as transformational for businesses and consumers as apps were a decade ago.

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Conversational UI: Talking Loud and Saying Plenty | By Daniel Harvey, Creative Director & Global Practice Lead, Experience Design, SapientNitro London

  1. 1. CONVERSATIONAL UI: TALKING LOUD AND SAYING PLENTYDANIEL HARVEY
  2. 2. 2TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY enterprise, engage with the app on average ten hours per day during the work week.6 This evolution of messaging platforms and the rise of chatbots represents a paradigm shift in our always-on world. Marketers now have the opportunity to be more plugged in to their target consumers’ conversations. And, as a business today, it is critical to under- stand this mega-trend and respond in short order. This is the dawn of the “post app” era and will be as transfor- mational for businesses and consumers as apps were a decade ago. Messaging as an operating system Creators of operating systems have long had a competitive advantage in the software industry. In the personal computer era, Windows’ dominance afforded Microsoft much success. In the desktop Internet era, Google functioned as an operating system (OS) of sorts for the Web. In the mobile era, iOS and Android are critical components of the Apple and Google ecosystems. Snapchat, once the domain of Millennials only, now has a daily average user count of 100 million. Software is eating the world. That’s what famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen said in a Wall Street Jour- nal article in 2011. Fast forward five years and it’s clear that he was correct – software is indeed ubiquitous. But not all software is equal. Messaging apps are experiencing a meteoric rise above all others. Flurry, a mobile analytics firm, says that messaging app sessions saw a 103 percent rise globally as far back as 2014, and sustained a 51 percent rise in 2015.1 General-purpose chat app WhatsApp had 50 percent greater traffic than all global text message use.2 And Snapchat, once the domain of Mi- llennials only, now has a daily average user count of 100 million.3 Furthermore, 50 percent of the top eight download- ed apps in the UK are messengers, while two out of the top three are chat apps from Facebook.4 And it’s not just social chatter that’s commanding such inspiring figures. WeChat, the dominant chat app in China, had more mobile transactions over the 2016 Chinese New Year than PayPal had during all of 2015.5 The users of Slack, the darling of the Big numbers in conversation 1 Flurry. “Shopping, Productivity and Messaging Give Mobile Another Stunning Growth Year.” http://flurrymobile.tumblr.com/post/115194992530/shopping-productivity-and-messag- ing-give-mobile. 2 Evans, Benedict. “WhatsApp Sails Past SMS, But Where Does Messaging Go Next?” http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2015/1/11/whatsapp-sails-past-sms-but-where-does- messaging-go-next. 3 SocialTimes. “Snapchat Is the Fastest Growing Social Network (Infographic).” http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/snapchat-is-the-fastest-growing-social-network-infograph- ic/624116. 4 Ofcom. “The Communications Market 2015 (August).” http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/cmr15/. 5 The Drum. “WeChat Had More Mobile Transactions Over Just Chinese New Year than PayPal Had During 2015.” http://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/02/09/wechat-had-more- mobile-transactions-over-just-chinese-new-year-paypal-had-during. 6 TIME.com. “How E-Mail Killer Slack Will Change The Future Of Work.” http://time.com/4092354/how-e-mail-killer-slack-will-change-the-future-of-work/. 7 Bloomberg. “Tencent Climbs as Ad Surge Boosts WeChat Earnings Outlook.” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-18/tencent-earnings-surge-50-percent-on-higher- online-game-sales. 8 Fortune. “Slack Raises $200 Million at $3.8 Billion Valuation.” http://fortune.com/2016/04/01/slack-raises-200-million-at-3-8-billion-valuation/. WeChat’s revenue in 20157 Slack’s 2016 valuation8 ¥3.8billion $3.8billion
  3. 3. 3TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY But, in the cloud era, all that could change. What’s important to realize is that messaging apps are often becoming platforms. Think of them as stealth operating systems on top of your exist- ing OS. They’re one-stop portals to everything you need on your smart- phone, infiltrating your life through the notifications panel. The most successful, like WeChat or Facebook Messenger, are facilitating more than just chat. WeChat supports peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, shopping, booking taxis and restaurants, and more. Facebook Messenger – with its virtual assistant, M – will be able to do all of that and who knows what else. As messaging apps grow more ubiq- uitous and powerful, the need to have standalone apps for these individual functions becomes questionable. What impact could this have on Venmo, Jet, Hailo, OpenTable, and the like? What about Google Now, Cortana, and Siri? More important, what does this do to other types of app experiences? The average smartphone user down- loads zero apps per month and, with users spending more and more time in chat apps, things look bleak for traditional apps.9 The aforementioned examples show that a chat user interface (UI) can work in a variety of situations. But why is it preferred? ChatUIhasazerolearningcurve First, there’s a similarity across the user interfaces of chat apps, so there’s no need to learn a new UI or pattern. Chat boils down to text on the right/left and input on the bottom - it's digital second nature now for many. This instinctual understanding gives brands a head start when designing an engaging experience for their consumers. As Nir Eyal, author of Hooked, puts it, “We already know how to chat, so making requests is easy.”10 Second, chat can be instantaneous or asynchronous. If you want a bus time, then bots, artificial intelligence (AI), and schedules can share a schedule in real time. If you want to buy luchador finery, then humans can take some time to find you the best deal. Unlike the telephone or Web, messag- ing affords us constant communication. For example, it gives customers quick access to information while on the go and can grant them answers even when brand representatives are not available. 9 comScore. “The 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report.” https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2015/The-2015-US-Mobile-App-Report. 10 Eyal, Nir. “Human + A.I. = your digital future.” http://www.nirandfar.com/2015/07/the-message-is-the-medium-3-reasons-apps-as-assistants-work.html. per month zeroapps The average smartphone user downloads
  4. 4. 4TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY As renowned tech strategist Ben Thompson puts it, “Conversations are never-ending, and come and go at a pace dictated not by physicality, but rather by attention.”11 Brand service, therefore, becomes even more conti- nuous and dependable. Third, it’s an ideal medium for customer service. If social media has taught us anything, it’s that people love to engage with brands for everything from satisfied reviews to customer service complaints. Chat apps allow customers the same opportunity, but in a discreet venue that's more personal for the consumers and less damaging to brands. It's also just more helpful to have a one-on-one service experience. Last, in a post-Snowden era, messaging apps seem to be the last great refuge for privacy. Apple and the FBI have been embroiled in a 21st-century version of the crypto-wars, while similar rows will likely erupt in the UK thanks to the Snoopers’ Charter.12 Messaging apps, when compared to social media, pose a safer communication stream for consumer data. Most major chat com- panies now have encryption enabled by default. For example, while Telegram’s encryption has long been lauded by privacy advocates, competitor WhatsApp recently made headlines when it enabled end-to-end encryption on all communications. 11 Thompson, Ben. “Snapchat’s Ladder.” https://stratechery.com/2016/snapchats-ladder/. 12 The Telegraph. “Snoopers’ Charter: Government Wins Vote on Investigatory Powers Bill.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/12194441/Snoopers-Charter-Parliamentary- vote-on-the-investigatory-powers-bill-live-updates.html. 13 Forbes. “Kik Battles Facebook with Bots in the New Messaging Wars.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2016/02/10/kik-bots-messaging-facebook-wechat/. 14 Wikipedia. “Chatterbot.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatterbot. 15 The New York Times. “As Messaging Apps Boom, Brands Tiptoe In.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/04/business/media/as-messaging-apps-boom-brands-tiptoe-in.html. In a post-Snowden era, messaging apps seem to be the last great refuge for privacy.
  5. 5. 5TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY Infinite chat integrations into branded ecosystems Brands have always fished where the fish are. Today, that means expedi- tions into messaging apps. Facebook Messenger has successful integrations with Uber to reserve a car, and KLM to provide boarding passes and flight updates, among other brands. Thanks to these advances, consumers who need to get to the airport can now do so without ever leaving the Facebook app. Millennial favorite Kik has seen over eighty “promoted chats” with bots for brands like MTV, Washington Post, and Skull Candy. Perhaps its most success- ful bot campaign was with NBCU- niversal to promote the horror film Insidious 3. A bot with the personality of the haunted main character Quinn exchanged on average sixty-nine messages across nearly 350,000 participants. exchanged on average sixty-nine messages across nearly 350,000 participants.13 What’s a bot? Put simply, a bot (also known as a chatbot) “is a computer program which conducts a conversa- tion via auditory or textual methods.”14 Kik, Facebook, and WeChat aren’t the only ones using this technology. Snapchat, the poster child for intimate messaging, has expanded its brand What’s a bot? Put simply, a bot (also known as a chatbot) “is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods.” tools including its “Discover” section. Several brands have created animated filters that overlay animation on video. Similarly, WhatsApp has created bot characters to help Clarks promote its Desert Boot product.16 These integrations will only increase as each of the major players creates its own “bot store.” Kik and Skype both launched their own versions of bot stores in early 2015. WeChat is already home to over 10 million “official accounts” which are thin apps (light versions that don’t require installation) or bots. More so, there’s a third-party opportunity here (as we saw with app stores) for new businesses to emerge. For example, you can play poker, explore restaurant menus, and receive travel advisories.17 Facebook is anticipating this explo- sion of bot development. At the most recent F8 conference, Mark Zucker- berg announced Facebook’s entrance into the bot store arena.18 Media and commerce were the dominant exam- ples, including demonstrations from CNN and 1-800-Flowers. While people are sharing less on Facebook, they are talking more than ever before on Face- book Messenger (900 million people per month, to be exact). In fact, this platform will be the first experience that many people will have with bots.19 16 The Drum. “Why Clarks Hopes ‘Calculated’ WhatsApp Risk Will Improve Brand Perception.” http://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/03/31/why-clarks-hopes-calculated-whatsapp- risk-will-improve-brand-perception. 17 Forbes. “Get Ready for the Chat Bot Revolution: They’re Simple, Cheap and about to be Everywhere.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2016/02/23/chat-bots-facebook- telegram-wechat/#657f9a942633. 18 Facebook. “Messenger Platform at F8.” http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/04/messenger-platform-at-f8/. 19 The Verge. “Facebook Launches a Bot Platform for Messenger.” http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/12/11395806/facebook-messenger-bot-platform-announced-f8-conference.
  6. 6. 6TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 6 The tables below explore examples across six major industry verticals, and comment on the strategic fit of chat-driven interfaces. Some executions are fairly straight- forward, while others require a dedicated app and have significant complexity. The wide variety of examples illustrates the potential of this technology. APPLICATIONS ACROSS INDUSTRIES RETAIL As a category, retail is vast. Some fashion and sports brands already have strong ties to Snapchat and Facebook, while some electronics and software brands have strong adoption for their own apps. CONSUMER PACKAGED GOODS Low app adoption has longed plagued this category. That makes the sector a strong candidate for integration with Facebook. Easy request Voice “What’s my balance?” Moderate request Text “I need to change my address.” Difficult request Card “How much mortgage can I afford?” Complex request Micro-app “Will my children be better off if I give them everything?” Easy request Voice “What are your store hours?” Moderate request Text “I need to return these jeans.” Difficult request Card “What goes with this jacket?” Complex request Micro-app “I need to replace the video card in this old laptop.” Easy request Voice “How many calories in just one Twix?” Moderate request Text “Send me a box of diapers/nappies ASAP.” Difficult request Card “What stores nearby carry your products?” Complex request Micro-app “I’d like a custom blush to suit my skin tone.” FINANCIAL SERVICES Integration with platforms seems unlikely due to privacy, security, and regulatory concerns. Folding chat functionality into your own apps seems more fit-for-purpose. TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY
  7. 7. 7TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 7TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY AUTOMOTIVE As the category continues to adopt the Internet of Things, it’s easy to imagine apps having a greater role than they do today in customer interaction. Easy request Voice “Play Father John Misty.” Moderate request Text “Did I lock the door?” Difficult request Card “Where did I park you?” Complex request Micro-app “Why does the ‘check engine’ light keep blinking?” TELECOMMUNICATIONS Many apps in this category already feature customer service and usage prompts. Adding chat functionality into the mix seems an obvious evolution. Easy request Voice “How much data have I used this month?” Moderate request Text “I’ll be traveling this month and need data/voice roaming services.” Difficult request Card “Which apps hog the most data?” Complex request Micro-app “I want to suspend my account for three months.” TRAVEL Travel apps are already woven into native functionality on iOS and Google/Android. Tighter integration with them seems a given. Easy request Voice “Is my flight on time?” Moderate request Text “I’d like to use my points to upgrade my seat.” Difficult request Card “Where exactly is my departure gate?” Complex request Micro-app “Show me tomorrow's flights from LHR to JFK.”
  8. 8. 8TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 8TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY DESIGNING CHATBOT INTERFACES FOR BANKING Change of address Transaction alert Send money What might a chatbot interface look like in banking? These images show how a conversation about a change of address, a transaction alert, and sending money might occur between consumer and brand.
  9. 9. 9TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY Bots are the Trojan horse for artificial intelligence Bots are a preoccupation in tech be- cause they're exploring artificial inte- lligence (AI) at scale. AI comes in two broad flavors: strong/general or weak/ specific. The former is recursive and can contend with a wide set of ques- tions with open-ended answers. The latter, on the other hand, responds to narrow sets of questions with scripted answers. We don't have strong AI yet, but the current generation of bots is a good example of weak AI. Today's bots are often a combination of algorithms and/or human turks. Google Now and Siri are the former, while on-demand delivery services like Magic in the United States and Fetch in the United Kingdom are the latter. Face- book’s virtual assistant M, on the other hand, is a hybrid. Given the limitations of specific AI (those of narrow question and answer sets), we need both context and pre- cision. Brand engagements are an interesting way to provide both because they are industry, product, or service specific. For example, you can trust that someone won't ask a banking bot a question about football. And methods such as onboarding and prompts can help people further understand what they can ask each bot. Niche domain expertise – such as bots for mortgages or asset manage- ment – are another way to focus a con- versation and avoid awkward failures. The concern that some people have with bots is the risk of a tedious back- and-forth. No one wants an interactive voice response system in their pocket. To reduce such risk, many bot expe- riences are complementing text with cards and micro-apps. Both are ways to deliver thin, but robust, interactions inside of chats. “Show flights” within Google Now or ordering an Uber in Slack are both great examples.
  10. 10. 10TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY Branded chat personas at work Many people already use services like Nike+ or Moves for fitness tracking. But it’s easy to imagine those apps becoming more like real coaches via the addition of chat behaviors and bots. Likewise, your banking app could be- come a financial advisor that answers basic questions about mortgages. While it won’t take the place of your real banker, the chat bot offers more intuitive and efficient ways to answer standard questions, filter requests, and gather more information for a customer service specialist. The requirements of designing a successful chat experience are different than building websites or delivering apps. Figuring out the personality of the brand is key. Is your brand voice funny, smart, or authoritative? How is the bot going to behave when a customer asks an unrelated question or isn’t able to clearly communicate his/ her issue? Those are questions that we’ve always asked when creating branded experiences, but now they take real prominence. Writer John Pavlus recently said, “When the conversation is the inter- face, experience design is all about crafting the right words.”20 That’s exactly why AI companies like x.ai, makers of personal assistant chatbots Amy and Andrew, are hiring writers with acting and improv backgrounds as their designers. Navigating stories and dialogue are tricky businesses. Fortunately, there’s an emerging sense of best practices: For example, avoiding rhetorical ques- tions and gendered pronouns are both examples of advice offered by the x.ai design leads. They also encourage building in “kill switches” to give users control. In their case, telling Amy or Andrew to “shut up” causes the bot to retreat from the current conversation. So, what’s your chat strategy? If software is eating the world, then it’s clear that messaging is eating software. Or to paraphrase another venture capitalist, Benedict Evans, “It used to be that all software expands until it includes messaging. Now all messag- ing expands until it includes software.” As with any new era, there's a lot of experimentation. Companies ranging from Facebook and Google to CNN and Gatorade are paving the way forward. Whether that is through platforms or activations, these nascent cases can – and are – teaching us a lot. The rise of chat gives marketers the unparalleled opportunity to align what their brands do with what they say. The right chat strategy, when executed well, will merge a brand’s persona with consumer expectations to create a seamless, intuitive experience. Whether that means adding chat functions to proprietary apps or creating branded bots on big platforms, organizations can now have more personalized con- versations with their customers. When the conversation is the interface, experience design is all about crafting the right words. – John Pavlus, writer and filmmaker 20 Co.Design. “The Next Phase of UX: Designing Chatbot Personalities.” http://www.fastcodesign.com/3054934/the-next-phase-of-ux-designing-chatbot-personalities.
  11. 11. Daniel Harvey Creative Director & Global Practice Lead, Experience Design, SapientNitro London dharvey@sapient.com Daniel is Creative Director & Global Practice Lead, Experi- ence Design at SapientNitro in London. Before that he was Executive Creative Director at R/GA in New York. He’s led innovative work for clients like HBO, NatWest, and Verizon. SapientNitro® , part of Publicis.Sapient, is a new breed of agency redefining storytelling for an always-on world. We’re changing the way our clients engage today’s connected consumers by uniquely creating integrated, immersive stories across brand communications, digital engagement, and omnichannel commerce. We call it our Storyscaping® approach, where art and imagination meet the power and scale of systems thinking. SapientNitro’s unique combination of creative, brand, and technology expertise results in one global team collaborating across disciplines, perspectives, and continents to create game-changing success for our Global 1000 clients, such as Chrysler, Citi, The Coca-Cola Company, Lufthansa, Target, and Vodafone, in thirty-one cities across The Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. For more information, visit www.sapientnitro.com. SapientNitro and Storyscaping are registered service marks of Sapient Corporation. COPYRIGHT 2016 SAPIENT CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. INSIGHTS WHERE TECHNOLOGY & STORY MEET The Insights publication features the marketing intelligence, trend forecasts, and innovative recommendations of boundary-breaking thought leaders. The SapientNitro Insights app brings that provocative collection – now in its digital form – to your on-the-go fingertips. Download the full report at sapientnitro.com/insights and, for additional interactive and related content, download the SapientNitro Insights app.

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