Are Chatbots and Conversational UI a paradigm shift in UX? -- Matt Chalawsky, Los Angeles, California

Matt Chalawsky -- Are Chatbots and Conversational UI a paradigm shift in UX? 


It's been over a year since Facebook announced it's Messenger bot initiative.  As with most new technologies, there's a lot of excited at first, but eventually the technology will either prove to be a better user experience or not.

There's some evidence that Chatbots are gaining traction.  This is actually surprising since most chatbots are still fairly unsophisticated and struggle to provide more than a scripted response.

Natural language processing (NLP) has been making huge gains in recent years.  NLP allows chatbots to understand the intent of a statement.  This is a very difficult problem given that the English language allows so many ways to say the same thing.  Luckily for chatbot developers, there are a growing number of NLP tools (i.e. API.ai, Microsoft LUIS, IBM Watson)  that solves the most daunting aspects of the problem.

Mobile is the key driver of chatbots today since the mobile user experience (UX) has a low bar, but eventually, as chatbots improve, it's easy to see chatbots taking over key industries on the desktop as well.  Industries with complex vernacular will be the most obvious choice:

  • Health 
  • Legal 
  • Taxes  
  • IT 
Imagine a chatbot that can understand a layman's questions and provides a layman's answer.    This could lead to a reduction in unnecessary doctor visits or avoiding costly lawsuits.

-- Matt Chalawsky

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