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Author's profile photo Justin Borders

From Click to Chat… the highway through the Next Generation User Experience

One question that constantly comes up in business applications is the efficiency of clicking and browsing vs free form communication. This is especially relevant now as most business software are adding more app like functionalities. The beauty of a conversational interface is that it enables users to communicate using natural language, to ask a bot what they want in their own words and voice. It’s the natural evolution of human computer interaction. The question is, how is that applicable in the business world and will that bring any added value to small and medium size businesses?

Chatbots Have the Answers

I think the best way to answer this question is to evaluate how you are currently finding your information. For example, you just got back from your first business trip and you have no clue about how you can submit a receipt for a business expense to get refunded. You have two options. The first being that you take your time adventuring through organizational documentation, SAP Help, or maybe the SAP Community to find the answer. The second option is asking a colleague who might or might not have the time or the answer for you. What if instead of asking a colleague you could ask a bot? What if it directly understood your needs or could ask a series of questions to fully understand your question and instantly provide you with all of the relevant resources with additional adjustable features? Simona and Isabel explained it like this:

“You have a problem where you need to search for a particular word. What if you were allowed to ask the same questions you would ask a colleague? For Example, how do I create an invoice? Through a mixture of Natural Processing Language, guided search, and web assistance, you will be able to find the best answers from the best sources without missing anything and without wasting time.”

Imagine you have a trained conversational chatbot which can be asked questions in a normal human way, just like chatting with a colleague. If you ask:



Utilizing Natural Language Processing, the bot will be able to understand your intent directly as a question for the knowledge search and connect directly to the Search API, passing your question through the identified filtering criteria. For the system, it’s obvious that your question is related to the product ByDesign, as you are asking about invoice creation. The system knows that this is meant for the Accounts Payable module and considering it’s a “know how” question, it will look into SAP Help, SAP Community and maybe SAP Notes for resources. In simple terms, the bot will provide you relevant resources and answers based on the existing data in the system.

But if you’re feeling lazy and you only type:

Considering a human wouldn’t understand what you want either, the bot will also ask you (using a mix of Natural Language Processing and guided search):

Based on your answer, the bot will facilitate the connection to the right resource: it will search into your own ByDesign content using Enterprise Search, direct you to the “Create New Supplier Invoice” screen, or fall back on the most common sources based on your keywords.

For those days when you’re feeling extra lazy, you can use the  to activate the Voice-to-Text capability and dictate to the chat bot your question (this feature is great when used in the mobile app of your ERP of choice).

This may seem fancy for a business software, but if you ask Alexa, Siri, or Cortana to answer your question, play music, or schedule something on your calendar, why should you not be able to ask your ERP of choice to do the same? That’s the question we asked ourselves and that’s the innovation which our ByDesign development team is trying to incubate for our customers in the not so far away future.

I’ll Be Back

If this happens to be the first blog post of mine you’ve seen within this series on Intelligent Enterprise for Business ByDesign, you can check out the first one here. Simona Marincei, the Head of Intelligent Processesand Isabel Ostermeier, Head of UX from SME Product Management together with their teams have put in a tremendous amount of work to bring these features to ByDesign customers at no additional cost. I’d recommend you check out the other posts in this series if you’re interested to see what other things they’ve been working on and what’s coming up soon. I’d love to start a discussion about this in the comments. What are your thoughts on AI Chatbots? Do you see the direct added value for the customer in the same way I do? Let me know down below!

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      Author's profile photo Simona Marincei
      Simona Marincei

      Great description of the innovation steps we take on NextGeneration UX in SME. Thanks for the article Justin!

      Author's profile photo Aleksandar Filipovic
      Aleksandar Filipovic

      I know we like to be ECO, but I still decided to print out all of your articles and read them one by one. Can't wait to finish all of them and decide which one to share with "the world". I'm loving your content!

      Author's profile photo Aleksandar Filipovic
      Aleksandar Filipovic

      P.S.: Not a big fan of chatbots though 😀 I assume I'll change my mind eventually, but even my Google Home sometimes infuriates me. So useful, but sometimes so... let's say annoying, though I felt like writing something more substantial.