3 Ideas for Designing for Chatbots

Blog Bots Viewpoint

Chatbots are the rage, but we are in the early days.  We are still not sure about how best to design for bots.  Yes, while conversational interfaces have promise to redefine the User Experience, the challenge facing us is to identify the right Use Cases, and the appropriate design.  After reviewing the nascent literature on this, talking to customer end users, and based on our own experience of building chatbots for enterprise systems, here are 3 ideas for Designing for Chatbots:

  1. Minimize Input: The user experience should be the priority.  Expecting users to enter free text has the potential for failure.  Instead, it may be best to have users give structured input.  For example, our developers at Unvired have designed a Command Infrastructure that eliminates lengthy free text input.  For example, Users can select Approve or Reject a Purchase Order in SAP or View Sales order from Oracle EBS with a Get Order Details simple chat command.
  2. Hybrid Approach: In some cases, the user may want to talk to a human at some point in the conversation with the bot. Good design should enable a human to jump in at any time.  Say, for example, you are ordering flowers on Facebook Messenger using a chatbot, but are frustrated because you cannot find what you are looking for.  There should be a way out to reach out to a human.
  3. Simple: The design for chatbots should be simple. One of the advantages of bots is that the need for say, a 3 screen application is eliminated.  There is no GUI.  Bots interactions should be kept simple and short—the user should give minimal input, and receive the output.

Let me know if you have other ideas for designing for bots.  These are early days, and we can all learn from each other.

This blog was first posted on LinkedIn.

Chatbots for SAP: Talk to SAP and Disrupt the User Interface

Blog Bots Mobile Use Case

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz around bots.  Bots are the lightweight programs that will make our work easier, and help us escape the multitude of apps that users have to navigate.  Bots have a simple text interface that eliminates the need for a Graphical User Interface (GUI).  Bots talk to systems, applications, and things- hence the term chatbots.   Much has already been written about bots, machine learning, AI, Natural Language Processing, and so this blog discusses a very specific sub-topic: Chatbots for SAP.

Interfaces with SAP come in many forms—the SAP GUI, Personas, and SAP Fiori among others. That is till now-enter the conversational interface.  At Unvired, we have developed chatbots for SAP to enable various Use Cases:

1.SAP ERP-Workflow: How about SAP messaging you an alert that a Purchase Order needs to be approved?  You look at the details, and approve.  Your text “Approve” gets the PO approved in SAP.

2.SAP ERP-Sales: The Sales leader needs to report to the CEO the latest sales figures. A quick text to SAP, and the answer comes right back. How about looking at a sales chart—that can be viewed too.

There are so many chatbots for SAP that would be a must have—for SAP ERP, S/4 HANA, SAP CRM, Cloud for Customer (C4C), SuccessFactors, and others.  Customers in industries including Manufacturing, Chemicals, Financial Services, and Real Estate have indicated interest in exploring Use Cases for chatbots.

Chatbots for SAP enable receiving alerts from SAP, taking actions/decisions on those alerts, and  searching/querying all with the intent to streamline workflow, and make work easier.

If you are an SAP customer or SAP partner, and want to collaborate with Unvired to build chatbots for SAP, please send me an Inmail or email me or comment on this post.  We would love to jointly define some Use Cases for chatbots.  These are exciting times indeed.  As always, looking forward to others sharing their experience with and thoughts on bots.