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.