What brands need to know about conversational interfaces

Imagine waking up between Steven Pinker and Stephen Fry, rather than Google and Buzzfeed. I’m talking about the first things you see and hear when you turn on your tech each morning. And how that’s going to change.

Will Oremus, a reporter at Slate, recently wrote an article about conversational interfaces. He said  that their biggest drawback is the way that they choose the information for you.


We disagree. That limitation is actually the big advantage. A limited conversational interface can’t give you 250,000,000 answers like Google, so it has to choose.

Conversational interfaces make a heavy-handed, but useful, job of curating the information for you.

If you ask Alexa ‘what is a kinkajou?’ then Alexa chooses an appropriate answer. If you google ‘Kinkajou’, you see a list of websites, and choose which one you’d like to visit.

The fact is, that finding enough information is no longer a problem. Filtering it – that’s the biggest challenge. It takes time. And 99 times out of 100, I’d be delighted if someone else could do that for me.

Yes, it might narrow the information we receive, but the most successful curators add value in the choices they make. Just like a curator in a museum might put together an exhibition. Imagine an exhibition tailored specifically for you – what would be hanging on the walls of your own gallery? Which sculptures would be in the middle of each room?

And curation is part of the bigger trend: personalisation.

The logical endpoint of all this is that Alexa will tell you what you need to know before you even know that you need to know it. (If you know what I mean.) This will also open up the market for curating apps – the next wave of Flipboards, Pinterests and Mediums that we use for our own, specific areas of interest. It’s the same for brands’ apps. And when they take the form of a conversation, they could be like talking to a brilliantly interesting and knowledgeable friend. So, who would you rather speak to, Professor Pinker or Dr Google?

If you’re a brand manager, and you want to know how to shape the conversations your brand will be having with customers in the near future, email Chris. We can work with you to define your brand identity, brand positioning and brand guidelines ready for the next wave of interfaces.