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Gartner: Alexa for Business: Natural Language Interfaces in the Workplace

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Gartner: Alexa for Business: Natural Language Interfaces in the Workplace
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Amazon’s announcement of Alexa for Business  today has targeted the conference room (or maybe the lab), but I think that obscures the broader trend toward natural language interfaces (NLI). In an NLI a user communicates with a system using their own language instead of having to learn the system’s menus and commands.Microsoft Office has gone about as far as a set of menu options and hotkeys can take us.  Each new features has to fight for space on a menu somewhere and often gets lost.  Just being able to say “select all the visible cells and not the filtered ones” would have saved me a lot of time (the answer is “Alt+;” for those interested).

A lot of innovation could come from designing productivity systems as natural language-first rather than using NLP as a bolt-on that presses menu buttons and fills in fields for you. Amazon has no legacy that would anchor them to old menu-driven UIs and soloed innovation of hardware and software. Combine that with a burgeoning set of assets, like Polly and Lex, and there’s a real opportunity to stake a new direction in how general purpose information workers get their work done.

The potential improvements in telemetry are particularly exciting.  UI designers have been able to use telemetry information (the data about how you use a system that is sent when you opt to “send anonymous usage information back to the design team to improve the product”) to greatly improve menuing systems, particularly by prioritizing functions or renaming them.

That’s all useful, but when a system can’t do what the user wants or fails to find the menu item, the telemetry has a devil of a time figuring that out.  With a NLI, the user spells out what they’re trying to do whether the system can do it or not, revealing a gold mine of customer-driven improvement suggestions without the guesswork.

Read the entire article here, Alexa for Business: Natural Language Interfaces in the Workplace

Via the fine folks at Gartner.

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Gartner Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world's leading information technology research and advisory company. The company delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner to clients in approximately 10,000 distinct enterprises worldwide. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, USA, and has 8,300 associates, including more than 1,800 research analysts and consultants, and clients in more than 90 countries. For more information, visit www.gartner.com.

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