What is a Virtual Assistant? A $19.5 Billion Era for Voice
Voice is more powerful than ever
The term “virtual assistant” no longer refers just to the receptionists you can hire over the web.
AI-powered virtual assistants are applications built to understand voice commands and complete chores for users. These assistants are now available in a range of smartphones, traditional computers, tablets, and other devices too. Combining everything from specialist chips to enhanced software, virtual assistants supplement and empower the modern workforce.
What’s more, these tools can learn over time to get to know consumer habits. That means they’re continually growing more efficient. With AI, your virtual assistant can recognise faces in the office, understand natural language, and even connect with other intelligent devices.
What are Virtual Assistants?
Studies suggest that around 47.3 million Americans had access to smart speakers in March 2018, and adoption rates keep growing. Virtual assistants have been a massive hit in the consumer space so far, but they’re beginning to make their way into the business realm too.
As a digital software solution, virtual assistants can be designed to perform a range of tasks for today’s enterprises. Whether you’re looking for something to replace your IVR or improve your meeting environments, virtual assistants can help. For instance, when used in place of a traditional IVR system, virtual assistants can listen to a customer’s request using natural language processing, then intelligent route that person to the correct agent. All the while, the same software will also be delivering contextual information about the customer to the agent, to allow for a better overall experience.
On the other hand, used inside meeting room environments, virtual assistants may eliminate many of the complex and time-consuming tasks that employees face. For instance, they can take meetings, set-up to-do lists, and reminders, and even arrange future appointments. Some virtual assistants are even capable of translating languages in real-time so that we can enjoy better connections with people around the world.
Virtual assistants also make other parts of the day-to-day employment experience more convenient too. For instance, you can ask your assistant to arrange a meeting for you with a colleague, and they can handle that while you work on something else. Your virtual assistants can also learn your behaviour to do tasks without asking, like ordering new supplies when you’re about to run out.
As we continue to develop more advanced natural language processing and understanding tools, the possibilities of virtual assistants will grow to greater heights.
Virtual Assistant Trends
Studies by Deloitte indicate that 82% of companies that have invested in an AI solution like a virtual assistant have seen a positive financial return on their spend. AI is rapidly changing not just our personal lives, but our professional experiences too. Here are some of the trends accelerating the growth of virtual assistants.
1. Better Conversational Responses
When chatbots and virtual assistants first arrived in the market, they were limited in the language they could understand. Now, of course, as businesses continue to realise how important it is to have intelligent support in the office, the power of assistants is growing. You can order products, change the status of your account and more, all without ever speaking to a human agent. Natural language processing is delivering a brand-new style of AI support to the marketplace.
Combined with sub-categories of machine learning like natural language understanding, consumers no longer have to deal with robotic conversations with assistants. Instead, speaking to an AI can feel just the same as talking to another person. Gartner suggests that around 25% of companies will have added a customer assistant AI to their customer service by 2020.
2. DIY Virtual Assistants Emerge
The rise of technology like CPaaS means that companies are experimenting more than ever with opportunities to build and develop their own systems. These days, businesses don’t have to rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to their digital transformations. Instead, it’s easy to create something that suits your individual needs.
DIY approaches to AI allow organisations to develop more comprehensive intelligent environments that link back to their CRM systems, internal data, and anything else that may help them to make more informed decisions about their company’s future.
3. Improved Productivity for Remote Workers
As remote and mobile working becomes increasingly popular, voice-activated virtual assistants are becoming more crucial. It’s far more convenient to ask your virtual assistant to remind you to complete tasks and set you up for meetings when you’re on the move. Already, we’ve learned that bringing assistants to the workplace can lead to significant increases in productivity levels. Gartner suggests that AI solutions will recover more than 6.2 billion hours in employee productivity going forward.
Many experts believe that we’re close to a world where every employee will have access to their own personal virtual assistant, to help them get work done. Whether you’re on the go or in the office, these assistants will make it easier to improve user experience, support customers, and manage productivity.
Virtual Assistant Statistics
In a world driven by experience, virtual assistants can simplify the workplace, support employees, and even provide more contextual conversations for customers. 47% of today’s customers say that they expect their use of voice assistants to increase.
- 42% of customers believe that voice-activated assistants are crucial to their lives
- 56% of households use and own a smart speaker
- 50% of houses that own smart speakers use their product at least once a day
- 42% of consumers already use voice assistants, and 72% of businesses are investing in the same technology
- 50% of all searches will be voice-based by 2020
- There will be 4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020
- 30% of all searches will be done without a screen in 2020.
- Up to 2024, the market share for virtual assistants will grow at a rate of about 35%
- By the end of 2019, IDC predicts that 75% of workers who use enterprise applications each day will access smart assistants to improve their productivity.
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