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Keynote: “ConversAtionalizIng” User Assistance

Almost 30 years ago the computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, and in July 2008 Apple first launched its AppStore for the iPhone. Back then there were only a handful of apps, and now there are more than 100 million.


Today Industry 4.0 and Information 4.0 are upon us and conversational AI (CAI) has become a key component for digital transformation. Conversation is everywhere, and it is our main communication channel. Conversation is now becoming our new website and our new apps, and therefore our new user interface. Instead of communicating with digital technology on its terms, having to learn how to use it, and sometimes failing to understand it, CAI is now enabling us to talk with machines in our own human language. Technology is becoming natural.

CAI technology uses machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to interpret text, voice, and images to find the right answer. It does that based on patterns within the content we provide it with, processing the semantics of this content to identify the user intents. Through interaction with users the technology learns by itself, becoming more intelligent and improving its responses as time goes by. At the outset the technology needs humans to train it with structured content in the form of question and answer pairs.

Collaboration between developers, UX designers, and information specialists from the beginning is therefore key. You need to get together to determine the business need, define all possible conversation flows, and ensure the technical feasibility. You need to know who your users are, what their needs (intents) are, and how they are most likely to express those needs. Information specialists often know the end users and their needs better than anyone else in the organization, and more times than not the answers to the users’ questions will be contained in the structured content produced by those information specialists. By using metadata and a taxonomy, the rights pieces of information can be provided through CAI to the user.

Pierre-Edouard and Marianne will go into more detail on the synergy between technology and CAI, what is possible now, what kind of challenges we are facing, and the role of information specialists in CAI going forward.