Talking to Robots – The Rise of the Conversational User Interface

conversational user interface

How do you feel about talking to a robot when you call for assistance from your providers? Many organizations have taken the step of using a conversational user interface to direct calls, or even completely resolve issues without any human intervention.

The emergence of Alexa, Siri and Cortana, are further driving businesses to investigate how they can incorporate conversational user interfaces to better serve their customers. This trend has been highlighted in the latest Technology Radar from global technology consultancy, ThoughtWorks. This bi-annual report provides an assessment of emerging trends shaping the future of software development and business strategy.

The 16th edition of the Technology Radar is based upon ThoughtWorks’ observations, conversations and frontline experiences of solving business challenges across multiple industries including retail, financial services, travel and transport, and technology.

“Today, tech leaders are exploring how conversational UI and natural language processing will impact business strategy. At ThoughtWorks, we see the future bringing a wider range of interactions that will integrate gestures, facial expressions and touch, blurring the line between physical and digital experiences.  Utilizing machine-powered processes for simple tasks allows the technologists to focus on new scenarios, complex interactions and consequences,” said Dr. Rebecca Parsons, Chief Technology Officer of ThoughtWorks.

“Evolving interactions mean organizations have new ways to interact with their customers and add new value through ‘intelligence as a service’; the key is to understand what’s commodity and what is truly differentiating for your business,” said Mike Mason, Global Head of Technology at ThoughtWorks. “In order to capitalize on these changes, IT organizations need to differentiate by clearing the obstacles from their path and empowering developers to do exactly what they want to do: game-changing software delivery.”

The notable themes in this edition of Technology Radar include:

Conversational UI and Natural Language Processing

  • Conversational User Interface now covers a spectrum of designs such as intelligent chatbots that understand intent through natural language processing. Currently, 32% of executives say voice recognition is the most-widely used AI technology in their business. You can learn more about these results here

Intelligence as a Service

  • A family of platforms burst onto the scene recently, encompassing a wide variety of surprisingly powerful utilities from voice processing, natural language understanding, image recognition, and deep learning. Organizations are already investigating the value of combining commodity cognition with intelligence about their own businesses. More on this topic here

Developer Experience as the New Differentiator

  • User experience design has been a key differentiator for technology product companies for many years. The emergence of new tools, combined with the battle for engineering talent is driving a similar focus on developer experience. Increasingly, organizations evaluate cloud offerings based on the amount of engineering friction they reduce, treat APIs as products, and spin up teams focused on engineering productivity. More on this topic here

Rise of the Platforms

  • Today’s platforms use a self-service API, with maturing tools such as Docker, Kubernetes and DCOS, they are generally team-configured and also team-provisioned. Many Silicon Valley companies have recently illustrated how building the correct platform can yield significant benefits, such as Amazon with its AWS infrastructure platforms. Read more on this here

Visit to access the interactive version, download the PDF and watch videos discussing the themes in more detail.

Eric T. Tung

Eric T. Tung

Eric T. Tung is the director of digital communications for GoTo Marketers, a top-rated social media strategist and consultant, and dad. He has worked with some of the leading companies in the world on digital communications and employment branding, and makes a mean smoked brisket. Eric is based in Houston, Texas, and you can find him on most channels as EricTTung.