Alexa, Siri, Cortana driving enterprise exploration of conversational UIs: Report

The report is based on ThoughtWorks’ observations, conversations and frontline experiences of solving its clients’ toughest business challenges

ThoughtWorks Technology Radar

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A tech savvy humanBOT, Sharmistha is a professional writer

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

The report is based on ThoughtWorks’ observations, conversations and frontline experiences of solving its clients’ toughest business challenges.

The key themes for the latest edition of the report as listed by the company are as follows:

Conversational UI and natural language processing

Conversational UI 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. However, ThoughtWorks regards Multimodal Interaction as the future of conversational UI, with an integrated range of interactions such as gesture, facial expression, and touch.

“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,” said Rebecca Parsons, Chief Technology Officer, ThoughtWorks.

She added that utilizing machine-powered processes for simple tasks can allow the technologists to focus on new scenarios, complex interactions, and consequences.

Intelligence as a Service

The company notes that 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 what new horizons they may expose by combining commodity cognition with intelligence about their own businesses.

“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, Technical Advisor, 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,” Mason added.

Developer Experience as the New Differentiator

User experience design has been a key differentiator for technology product companies for many years. According to ThoughWorks’ report, 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.

Rise of the Platforms

The report noted that today’s platforms use a self-service API, with maturing tools such as Docker, Kubernetes and DCOS, are team-configured and also team-provisioned. A number of notable Silicon Valley companies have recently illustrated how building the correct platform can yield significant benefits, such as Amazon with its AWS infrastructure platforms.

Pervasive Python

Historically, enterprise adoption of Python as a first class language in production has been rare. However, according to the recent industry trends around AI commoditization and applications, the maturity of Python 3, and architectural approaches such as microservices and containers, have boosted Python in the programming ecosystem.

Python is now seen to be bridging and unifying the divided world of (data) scientists and engineers in organizations, used as the common language for both modeling and research as well as for final production deployment.

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