Why conversational UI? Why now?

The mobile era has shifted our society from always on to always on demand. The standard of always on, which caused a great shift in social and workforce dynamics, is a remnant of the desktop and Blackberry era. 10 years ago, we had Wikipedia and started to say “just Google it”. Over time, that technology led us to develop cultural expectations of responding to that 9PM email. We brought this expectation with us as smartphones debuted and evolved, but something dramatic happened when the concept of ‘mobile first’ started to become a reality.

Five years ago we started to ask “Siri, how late is the pizza place down the street open?” or “What’s the best way to get to CVS”? That was a necessary first step – the real shift – to always on demand. We saw it in our social lives: an expectation of responses within minutes, as opposed to hours, from family, friends, and colleagues.

Expectations for responsiveness have increased dramatically, and these expectations bleed into every part of our life. People rant against airlines on Twitter, live chat with customer service reps at 2AM, call automated tellers to execute stock trades, track their food delivery drivers, and ask Alexa what the weather will be like tomorrow. At the same time, cottage industries built around ‘mindfulness’ and productivity hacking have sprung up, both leveraging technology to ironically try and solve for problems created by the ubiquity of interaction technology. Welcome to always on demand – we’ve been here for a while.

What is Conversational UI?


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