What’s up with Conversation Design Tools?
Here today, gone tomorrow. That’s been the fate of a lot of tools in the conversational AI space over the years. In the past six months, two prominent conversation design tools—Botmock and Botsociety—announced sunsets of their products. Botmock was acquired by Walmart, and Botsociety “decided to radically change the strategic direction of the company.” The volatility in the conversational AI space, especially related to conversation design, has left a lot of people scratching their heads.
The Voxable founders have always believed conversational AI is the next paradigm shift for human-machine interaction. That’s why we quit our day jobs to start our company. However, the market hasn’t matured as quickly as we anticipated, leading us to question our vision at times and make a few pivots along the way. (Check out this VUX World podcast if you want to learn more about the history and future of Voxable.)
Recently, Mustafa Suleyman and Reid Hoffman of Greylock Ventures validated our belief in the potential of this technology when they announced they’re cofounding a conversational AI company. In Suleyman’s statement, he echoed a lot of what we’ve been saying since we became conversational AI consultants in 2015: “Recent advances in artificial intelligence promise to fundamentally redefine human-machine interaction.”
So, what’s this all mean for the conversational AI space, conversation design tools, and potentially you?
Conversational AI Market Maturity
The conversational AI space is relatively nascent. It’s important to keep this in mind because tools will come and go as everyone jockeys to establish themselves as market leaders. Select tools that will enable you to avoid vendor lock-in and can scale with your team.
In our time working as consultants with some of the largest brands in the world, we helped teams navigate the various conversational technologies available to them. We saw a lot of shifts in the market—product sunsets, new players, channel hype cycles, etc. Recognize that how your company is approaching its chat and voice apps now will inevitably change as technology advances. Set yourself up for success by considering the flexibility of the tools you’re using for conversation design, natural language understanding (NLU), analytics, and so on.
Questions we recommend asking:
- How do developers access the content created by designers?
- How available is the data? Which export and import formats are supported?
- What integrates with this tool?
The need for flexibility extends to the size of your team and how you work together as well. The rate at which companies are investing in conversational AI has only accelerated since the onset of the pandemic. This means many companies are hiring new and upskilling internal employees to work on their chat and voice apps. Consider both how a tool works for your team now and how it will work as your team expands or you hire external vendors.
Questions we recommend asking:
- How is collaboration supported?
- Does each contributor have the right feature set for them to be successful?
- What tasks can be automated?
Flexibility is one of the main drivers behind the Voxable product. Voxable co-founders Lauren Golembiewski (designer) and Matt Buck (developer) saw the need for a tool that is open-ended, channel-agnostic and gives the many people who need to influence a conversational AI experience the right environment in which to work. This is a major difference between our tool and comparable tools on the market.
We know designers, developers, content writers, marketers, subject matter experts, and even the legal team are involved in the creation and management of a company’s chat or voice app. So, Voxable gives designers a blank canvas to create, stakeholders access to review and revise, and developers an API, a CLI, and plugins to work with the conversational content. We initially branded Voxable as a “conversation design platform,” but it’s really so much more. And, that leads me to my next point…
Perceived Value of (Conversation) Design
Historically, design has been the underdog of new software development despite research that investing in design and user experience leads to massive returns. Our CEO Lauren Golembiewski has written about it from a designer perspective, and I’ve written about it from a business perspective. Yet, no matter how much we highlight design’s role and importance in creating great conversational experiences, those who control the purse strings have a hard time understanding and quantifying its value. This may be why so many “conversation design” tools no longer exist.
Despite the sunset of Botmock and Botsociety, there are more conversational AI teams than ever looking for ways to efficiently create and manage their conversational AI experiences at scale. Companies are beginning to realize that improving their conversational user experience is the key to staying competitive in the market and capitalizing on this technology. Whether you call it conversation design or something else, you should invest in a tool that helps your team do this work better and faster.
Conversational AI’s Real Pain Point
It all boils down to what we, the Voxable founders, believe is the real pain point in the conversational AI space today: the lack of a single source of truth for chat and voice experiences.
As more companies adopt conversational AI technology, initiatives expand, and teams grow, there needs to be one place where everyone can reference what a chat or voice app should be at any given time.
- Not be coupled to a single channel or technology.
- Integrate with existing tools/platforms and new tools/platforms that come on the market.
- Be accessible to both technical and non-technical team members.
- Connect multiple business units and stakeholders.
- Promote conversational brand consistency.
- Enable teams to create and iterate on conversation designs and content faster.
Our goal is for Voxable to be that place. Similar to a website or mobile app, the success or failure of a chat or voice experience is contingent upon its ongoing management. Conversation design is just one part of the entire conversational AI app lifecycle.
We want to improve the world with conversational AI and that starts with giving teams a better way to create and manage the technology. You can try Voxable for free today. If you want to partner with Voxable and influence the trajectory of the product as we work toward our mission, reach out to us here.