Conversational computing – a case for reinventing enterprise workflow


The early millennials and those of us slightly older can relate to this. There was once a time when all conversations, communication, and approvals within the organization were maintained in physical paper copies, and often in duplicates or triplicates. The checks-and-balances within the workflows solely relied on the meticulousness of the paperwork. The paper-trail was sacred; seals and signatures were the only conceivable authentication-keys.

Then along came desktops and emails, closely followed by CRMs and cloud technology. The effectiveness of communications, transactions, and collaboration have been radically transformed since. Now, the second wave of enterprise transformation is upon us. The catalyst this time is ‘Conversational Computing’.

Conversational Computing (CC) is a significant leap in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) capabilities of our times. In a short span, we transitioned from keyboard/mouse to the slick touchscreens, and are now exploring gesture- and voice-based interfaces.

In our personal lives, most of us have interacted with the smart (voice) assistants. Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Siri are our go-to guide for quick tasks. Ordering food, hailing a cab, evaluating traffic conditions and commute times, booking a movie ticket, playing our favourite music, or simply setting up reminders, these trusty assistants have evolved quite rapidly. Instead of having multiple apps to perform different operations, imagine a smart assistant that can take care of all your tasks through speech/conversation. But, can conversational computing transform the workflows at our workplaces? Maybe, therein lies a big opportunity.

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Email IDs have been the primary identifier (in most cases, sole identifier) of people at workplaces. The Adobe Email Survey 2016 found out that office workers spend over a third of their waking days reading, writing, and replying to emails. That’s a lot of time-indulgence!

There is an opportunity to explore a more intuitive means of communication and collaboration. Application of CC within organizations could serve one or more of these outcomes:

  • Improve ease of doing a task
  • Reduce the time taken to complete a task
  • Improve the quality of collaboration
  • Communicate better/articulate clearly
  • Fast-pace a workflow (reviews, approvals)

In fact, organizations may not even have to re-invent their workflow but could reap the benefits by simply adding a layer of conversational computing to their UI. The efforts could be the least intrusive, and yet highly rewarding.

Going by the trends, there seems to be an intent. A survey/report from PwC sampled 2,500 US consumers and business decision makers to explore their attitudes toward AI. More than half of the respondents (52 percent) believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants may replace humans as office assistants. The report also found that the AI market will reach $70 billion by 2020 and have a transformative effect on the consumer, enterprise, and government markets around the world.

There is a strong possibility that we may co-work with a bot in the near future. I’d personally prefer to speak with it rather than communicate through a touchscreen.

Ilanchezhian Ganesamurthy is a Solution Architect at EVRY India.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)