How does a yearly work email count in the single digits sound? According to Amir Shevat, head of developer relations at Slack, that is where we’re headed. It’s part of a shift to Conversational Interfaces which are the future of communication and the next big technology race, he says.
“We were on paper, then we moved to computers, and then we moved to mobile. From mobile, what we’re seeing – what the numbers are saying, is that we are moving into messaging interactions,”Shevat told Which-50.
In the same way, there was a race for mobile operating systems and internet browsers, there is now a race for conversational interfaces. It’s an important race too – it determines where work and commerce will happen, he said.
The race is driven by software reaching a point that fundamentally changes how we interact with it, Shevat said. Conversational interfaces mean users can enter commands without needing to know exact command lines.
“We’ve been learning how to use software for 20 years. Now software is starting to learn how to work with us. It’s moving to where we are. The revolution is that information is going to come to us. Workflows are going to come to us to be completed.”
According to Shevat, many of our interactions and work will shift from email and disjointed applications to a unified message based ecosystem that uses a conversational interface.
Imagine using a single platform to communicate with others, generate reports, view CRM systems and even order your uber – all without having the apps installed. That’s what Shevat is predicting and what Slack is trying to accomplish.
“The revolution is that we have enough understanding to bring software into where humans are. Not have humans go and seek the software,” he told Which-50.
Slack is part of the race. They have 155,00 active developers and a strong partnership network, according to Shevat. But they want more. With steadily growing user numbers, now over six million, Slack is moving from a workplace tool to a communication ecosystem. They want partners to integrate their services into Slack to provide better user experiences.
The benefit for the partners? More engaged users and a “greenfield opportunity”, Shevat said.
“When Trello launched [on Slack] they got a few tens of thousands of new users that were Slack avid users. So that’s a greenfield opportunity,” Shevat said. The users are also “highly engaged” and able to achieve more by working in the unified ecosystem, Shevat said.
To Bot or Not?
Part of what makes the conversational interfaces intuitive and effective is the use of bots. Bots, can be triggered by commands or even provide contextual information without being prompted.
According to Shevat, this makes them effective in work based conversational interfaces for task based objectives. It’s why the system is so universally applicable, all organisations experience these tasks, Shevat said.
There are instances where bots aren’t useful – yet. Extended conversational interactions aren’t a reality yet, Shevat said. So don’t expect them to be completing excel or photoshop tasks anytime soon.