Note: This blog is the sixth in a monthly co-authored series written by Charlotte O’Donnelly, Research Analyst at Blue Hill Research, and Matt Louden, Brand Journalist at MOBI. MOBI is a mobility management platform that enables enterprises to centralize, comprehend, and control their device ecosystems.
For business owners, good help used to be hard to come by—today it can be found in employees’ pockets. Virtual assistants and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are revolutionizing the way work gets done. By 2021, almost two billion employees will depend on virtual assistants every day.
This trend’s humble beginnings can be traced back to 2011 when Apple debuted the iPhone 4S and its integrated Siri technology. While the original version did little more than set calendar appointments and surf the web, its context-based knowledge repository sparked the interest of other innovators and dawned the current digital age.
Age of the Virtual Assistant
While Siri retains its title as one of the most ubiquitous virtual assistants, there has never been more competition in this increasingly crowded marketplace. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and a handful of other tech titans now fight for control over the future of virtual enterprise assistance.
Like any other product, increased competition has created more efficient and effective technology. By combining AI with cloud and cutting-edge software, virtual assistants are rapidly becoming better equipped for business capabilities. Digital helpers are not only processing information and making decisions faster than ever before—they’re doing so with a greater similarity to human language and behaviors, and are increasingly becoming more indistinguishable from humans as the technology improves.
Coupled with an ever-growing mobile workforce, the global adoption of smart mobile devices and applications is only accelerating the need for virtual assistants. In the next few years, Blue Hill estimates that increasingly more of the touchpoints through which consumers and employees interact with their devices will be replaced or supplemented by AI technology. Currently, almost 63% of Americans have already used virtual assistants.
- Increased Productivity – Employees are frequently overwhelmed by mundane tasks that bog down daily schedules and that have the potential to derail big-picture project deadlines. Virtual assistants use natural language to take responsibilities like scheduling meetings and managing analytics off workers’ plates, letting them focus instead on core capabilities and satisfying customers. Virtual assistants work whenever their users need them, not just from 9am to 5pm.
- Optimized Growth – Virtual assistants don’t just help employees; they also benefit a company’s bottom line. Rather than paying salary, insurance premiums, and other miscellaneous expenses required for human employees, a digital aid comes free with most modern mobile devices. That means labor savings can instead be invested back into the business.
- Simplified Processes – It can be difficult for workers to keep track of multiple meetings and employees’ contact information. Coordinating this information through an administrative assistant or office administrator adds an extra layer of complexity and can make tasks even more time-consuming. A virtual assistant streamlines these processes with an easy-to-navigate interface and instant requests made in natural speech.
A Few Considerations
While virtual assistants don’t change the physical device inventory accessing internal corporate networks, they do add new technology into a mobility program’s mix nonetheless. Like any other product, unknown security exploits and vulnerabilities will inevitably follow this innovation’s enterprise implementation—it is important that corporate IT policies are updated to include and account for any relevant fixes.
If successfully adopted, virtual assistants have the potential to transform an enterprise and guide future workplace automation efforts. With AI and machine learning technology, employee preferences and behaviors are learned by the virtual assistant to provide more personalized, contextual experiences. Your most productive workplace relationship may just be virtual.