What Every CIO Needs To Get Started In Conversational UI Design

Ivo van Barneveld

Part 5 in the “UX Design for CIOs” series

Conversational user interfaces are the future of UX design. For many designers, this will be new territory. Compare it with the introduction of cinema: The first movies shown in cinemas were short and filmed with a fixed camera. With technology progressing and cineasts starting to understand the possibilities of this new medium, cinemas became very popular. Drawing the analogy with conversational UIs: mainstream adoption might still take a few years. We probably haven’t discovered yet the full potential of this new user interface as we are still learning.

When you want to learn and start designing your first conversational UI, here are a few paradigms to keep in mind:

  • Human-like: Use natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to create an assistant with a personal touch. Give your assistant personality features like gender, authenticity, and humor.
  • Context-aware: Ensure that dialog flows are logical in sequence; make proactive suggestions that match with the user’s preferences and situation.
  • Intelligent: Use machine learning functionality to gain knowledge based on historic data and experience, and take action in response to new or unforeseen events.
  • Multi-modal: Create one assistant across all applications—for example, starting a task on a mobile device and continuing on a desktop later, or vice versa. Allow seamless transition across platforms.
  • Omnipresent: Integrate with applications and platforms your users use to lower the barrier for engagement.

You might wonder: What are SAP’s plans in this space? Well, with the paradigm shift of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we looked at the bigger picture and designed an experience not just for the screen, but beyond the screen. SAP has designed a digital assistant for the enterprise that allows for seamless collaboration across applications while creating and sharing notes, objects, screenshots, and messages – while being aware of the business context and letting users collaborate.

Its conversational user interface will open up new possibilities to interact with SAP applications: talking or typing questions and commands in natural language. “Show me partially paid invoices for supplier X” or “Create a sales order for customer Y” will become as common as good old TX codes like “VA01” or “FBKP.” The introduction of a digital assistant for the enterprise will change the way your users interact with applications and data. Thanks to recent advances in natural language processing and machine learning, now is the time to start thinking how conversational UIs will impact your organization.

Find out more

This concludes our UX Design for CIOs series. If you’d like to learn more about conversational UIs and chatbots in general, I recommend subscribing to Chatbots Magazine on Medium. If you’d like to know more about SAP’s digital assistant, you can follow the blog posts about SAP CoPilot on Experience.sap.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and reach out to me if you’re interested in co-innovating with us, or joining our next planned customer engagement initiative.

For more on taking advantage of trends that are more than fads, see How Following UX Design Trends Can Feel Like Surfing.


Ivo van Barneveld

About Ivo van Barneveld

Ivo van Barneveld is a passionate evangelist of innovations in user experience, mobile, and Internet of Things. His work focuses on the intersection of technology and business. He is currently a member of the UX Customer Office team in SAP Global Design, with the remit to drive adoption of SAP’s award-winning user experience, SAP Fiori. Previously, he worked at SAP as a lead consultant, supporting customers with planning and executing digital transformation strategies. Prior to joining SAP in 2012, he held several business development, account manager, and partner manager roles at Nokia and Layar, among others. Ivo holds a Master’s degree in Applied Physics from the Delft University of Technology, and is based in the Netherlands.

How Governments Are Building The Digital Future

Natalia Panina

Many governments now recognize that investing in the digital economy by providing digital channels, apps, and websites that link citizens to public bodies brings economic benefits.

The UK government’s Cloud First policy, for example, requires state departments to consider cloud solutions before alternatives. The Australian government procures $6 billion of information and communications technology (ICT) services annually. Combined with state and territory governments, public sector expenditure on ICT accounts for about 30% of the domestic market.

The Australian government wants to reduce the cost of its ICT by eliminating duplication and fragmentation. It intends to lead by example in using cloud services to reduce costs and lift productivity. Austria’s Federal Computing Center and Denmark’s equivalent body have built shared service centers to standardize and simplify the business processes of state departments. These governments are leading the way to a digital future.

Why are mature governments going digital?

Because advanced technologies now enable us to drive digital transformation to achieve the following:

  1. Enable the public sector to manage a country’s resources more efficiently
  1. Generate more value for citizens and businesses by using new business models and providing digital services
  1. Enable businesses to grow by means of public sector digitalization

There are plenty of projects that demonstrate how state departments have improved tax collection by collaborating online with taxpayers, optimized back-office processes, and saved money by preventing fraud. And they have increased income by better managing assets, like land and buildings, and improved construction planning and accounting.

It is important to prioritize strategic projects, such as building a digital infrastructure, setting up a national program to equip society with digital skills, creating the right economic environment, encouraging small business to increase productivity, and so on. To execute on their strategies, governments are establishing private cloud organizations to centralize operations across focus areas.

Many state agencies, which act on behalf of governments, have made infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS) their number-one priority. But real business value can only be achieved if a government’s strategy is amplified by a partnership with a trusted IT adviser that is able to advise on software as a service (SaaS), or even on a model for outsourcing business processes that is on top of the digital platform.

Companies around the globe demonstrate the benefits of data-driven management in state departments, unified processes, cooperation with citizens through the entire omnichannel platform, and embedding valuable Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios in the IT infrastructure. These and many other revolutionary solutions are creating frictionless government as an enabler of the digital economy.

Boosting efficiency and delivering better public services

Technology helps governments boost their efficiency and deliver better public services. The arrival of cloud computing comes at a time when many governments are urging their IT departments and agencies to optimize the cost of delivering IT services and, at the same time, become more flexible and responsive – in essence, to do more with less.

Building a management system for an entire government on one robust platform is definitely the way for the future, as it enables organizations to unify analytical reporting, gain insights from data, and discover new revenue streams.

The digital technologies available today make it possible to use historical data alongside predictive analytics augmented by machine learning so that people can work smarter. Meaningful information from data could be used in many business applications to optimize processes and assist employees. Another example of how technologies can make a real difference in the public sector is blockchain as a service. It can transform how governments and citizens interact by increasing trust and cutting the time it takes agencies to serve citizens.

Such advances have considerable potential in domains such as tax and revenue management, social security, and finance. The benefits could be replicated across all public services to considerable effect. That is why governments are now building private cloud platforms as part of their digital transformation strategy.

Learn more about Running Future Cities on Blockchain.


Natalia Panina

About Natalia Panina

Dr. Natalia Panina, is Vice President Middle& Eastern Europe Public services General Manager & Innovation Lead at SAP. Natalia has been working for SAP 20 years. Since 2014 Natalia is developing SAP business is Middle & Eastern countries launching SAP innovations to public organizations, supporting cross country best practice exchange and shaping the unique digital transformation roadmap for Governments.

Driving Full Adoption Of Virtualized Desktop Environments

Daniel Newman

As more employees become mobile workers, it’s time for enterprise businesses to move to virtualized desktop environments. Here’s why.

Virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) was developed over ten years ago, yet its true potential is only being discovered now. I’ve written about VDI before – it just goes to show how much of a VDI fan I am. I still remember the excitement of logging on to my first remote desktop more than a decade ago. To sit at home and still have the exact same files and software I had at the office was magical!

Virtualized desktop environments have come a long way since then. Built on the same prose as VDI, these allow for desktops to be hosted at a data center or on the cloud. Considering that IDC predicts nearly three-quarters of the workforce will be online by 2020, it’s absolutely necessary for organizations to drive full adoption of VDE. Among other benefits, VDEs can store legacy systems and applications in a central location and be accessed from any device. With the exponential rise of bringing your own devices to work (BYOD), VDEs become of utmost importance. Here’s why businesses need to fully embrace VDEs in the years to come.

Increased productivity

While the “how” may not be obvious at first, a centralized virtualized environment boosts productivity in many ways. In the business world, efficiency comes in the form of time and cost savings. VDEs provide both. Employees will be able to work when they want, from a location of their choice, using the device they prefer. For employees who thrive in a more creative office environment than a cramped cubicle, this could do wonders. If an employee is stuck at an airport or delayed at an appointment, VDEs will allow them to complete work that needs to get done.

In terms of upkeep, IT productivity increases too. Having a centralized system to manage devices, applications, and security concerns is easier and more efficient than dealing with troubleshooting individual devices. Updates can be done at one go, freeing up IT staff time to focus their efforts elsewhere. In general, VDEs help overall business productivity through greater mobility across the organization.

Improved security

One of the greatest benefits of a virtualized desktop environment is that it sets the stage for better security practices across an organization. VDEs successfully keep corporate applications and data off users’ devices, giving company control of security. In the past, employees working from home might email work-related documents to their home computer. In such cases, the company would lose control over the security of the document as soon as it was opened on the home computer. With VDEs, all work takes place via a data center or cloud, where it can be monitored and protected.

Similarly, when it’s time to apply a security update, VDEs enable a more streamlined process. The IT department can simply patch one image in the data center or cloud, updating all devices promptly and reducing the risk of security breaches due to time lag.

Reduced cost

As mentioned above, VDEs can generate huge cost savings. Once virtualization is securely set up, companies can institute BYOD programs, which completely eliminate the cost of device-related overhead. As personal devices are successfully connected to enterprise data, organizations don’t need to purchase any new devices, saving significant capital expenses. Additionally, organizations can reap cost savings through a more efficient and fully centralized IT management system. Ultimately, enabling centralized management through virtual environments is bound to improve an organization’s bottom line.

In conclusion, it is integral that companies use VDEs, especially as more employees work on mobile devices. In the process of driving full adoption, organizations must avoid some key mistakes. Picking the right hardware, carefully sizing storage, and planning out networks (LAN, WAN, WLAN) can have a big impact on how smoothly the transition into a virtualized desktop environment occurs.

It’s also prudent to design and define workloads as well as size up the business environment before integrating VDEs into the workplace. After all, the transition to VDEs should be seamless and well received, so that employees actually understand the benefits and can fully embrace this technology of the future.

This article originally appeared on Future of Work.


Daniel Newman

About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies.
Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book “The Millennial CEO.” Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter.
Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5).
A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.

Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?

Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.

There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.

Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.

Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu


Finance And HR: Friends Or Foes? Shifting To A Collaborative Mindset

Richard McLean

Part 1 in the 3-part “Finance and HR Collaboration” series

In my last blog, I challenged you to think of collaboration as the next killer app, citing a recent study by Oxford Economics sponsored by SAP. The study clearly explains how corporate performance improves when finance actively engages in collaboration with other business functions.

As a case in point, consider finance and HR. Both are being called on to work more collaboratively with each other – and the broader business – to help achieve a shared vision for the company. In most organizations, both have undergone a transformation to extend beyond operational tasks and adopt a more strategic focus, opening the door to more collaboration. As such, both have assumed three very important roles in the company – business partner, change agent, and steward. In this post, I’ll illustrate how collaboration can enable HR and finance to be more effective business partners.

Making the transition to focus on broader business objectives

My colleague Renata Janini Dohmen, senior vice president of HR for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, credits a changing mindset for both finance and HR as key to enabling the transition away from our traditional roles to be more collaborative. She says, “For a long time, people in HR and finance were seen as opponents. HR was focused on employees and how to motivate, encourage, and cheer on the workforce. Finance looked at the numbers and was a lot more cautious and possibly more skeptical in terms of making an investment. Today, both areas have made the transition to take on a more holistic perspective. We are pursuing strategies and approaching decisions based on what delivers the best return on investment for the company’s assets, whether those assets are monetary or non-monetary. This mindset shift plays a key role in how finance and HR execute the strategic imperatives of the company,” she notes.

Viewing joint decisions from a completely different lens

I agree with Renata. This mindset change has certainly impacted the way I make decisions. If I’m just focused on controlling costs and assessing expenditures, I’ll evaluate programs and ideas quite differently than if I’m thinking about the big picture.

For example, there’s an HR manager in our organization who runs Compensation and Benefits. She approaches me regularly with great ideas. But those ideas cost money. In the past, I was probably more inclined to look at those conversations from a tactical perspective. It was easy for me to simply say, “No, we can’t afford it.”

Now I look at her ideas from a more strategic perspective. I think, “What do we want our culture to be in the years ahead? Are the benefits packages she is proposing perhaps the right ones to get us there? Are they family friendly? Are they relevant for people in today’s world? Will they make us an employer of choice?” I quite enjoy the rich conversations we have about the impact of compensation and benefits design on the culture we want to create. Now, I see our relationship as much more collaborative and jointly invested in attracting and retaining the best people who will ultimately deliver on the company strategy. It’s a completely different lens.

Defining how finance and HR align to the company strategy

Renata and I believe that greater collaboration between finance and HR is a critical success factor. How can your organization achieve this shift? “Once the organization has clearly defined what role finance and HR must play and how they fundamentally align to the company strategy, then it’s more natural to structure them in a way to support such transformation,” Renata explains.

Technology plays an important role in our ability to successfully collaborate. Looking back, finance and HR were heavily focused on our own operational areas because everything we did tended to consume more time – just keeping the lights on and taking care of our basic responsibilities. Now, through a more efficient operating model with shared services, standard operating procedures, and automation, we can both be more business-focused and integrated. As a result, we’re able to collaborate in more meaningful ways to have a positive impact on business outcomes.

In our next blog, we’ll look at how finance and HR can work together as agents of change.

For a deeper dive, download the Oxford Economics study sponsored by SAP.

Follow SAP Finance online: @SAPFinance (Twitter)LinkedIn | FacebookYouTube


Richard McLean

About Richard McLean

Richard McLean, regional CFO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, oversees all key finance and administrative functions for field and regional headquarters, supporting more than 16,000 employees. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior finance roles with leading global companies across a range of industries, including financial services, investment banking, automotive, and IT. He joined SAP in 2008.