Market musings

The Imminent Rise of Intelligent Virtual Assistants

by Sasha Viasasha
November 15, 2017

The robots are coming! The robots are coming! Have you heard? They are coming, to replace your job, your spouse, your life! They may even want to perform all the mundane, tedious tasks that keep you from doing your real work.

What’s really going on? Is automation going to render humanity obsolete? Will AI help humanity solve its biggest problems, or decide that humanity is the biggest problem? While bots going amok on social media get a lot of attention, AI is already working quietly behind the scenes to solve some of our biggest problems. To tackle large scale problems like poverty, hunger and water scarcity, we will need big data and AI. 

Spending on AI topped $640 million last year, but it is projected to draw investments of $37 billion by 2025. Big changes to work and society are certainly on the way.

But AI can be the god of small things, too.

Take a look at how AI is making life better for individuals.

1. AI makes search more intuitive— The internet is a vast archive of human knowledge and activity, and searching it can be quite distracting. Someday we will all be amazed at how we used to sit at keyboards laboriously entering search terms and scrolling through generic results. As voice interfaces become more intelligent and personalized, search will become more relevant and accurate. As natural language processing (NLP) races towards technical mastery, a huge uptick in voice search queries has resulted.

Six out of 10 users of voice search tried out the technology for the first time within the past year and already one fifth of all mobile searches are done by a virtual assistant using voice UI.

2. AI keeps you on schedule—Unlike clunky scheduling software, AI uses machine learning to adapt to your real-time activity. It will be able to gauge how long it typically takes you to get ready for meeting, while importing traffic and weather data to help you plan out the best route to get there. For example, it could make recommendations on whether to take the train or drive and then map out the path without requiring you to launch a separate navigation app. Spoken reminders such as, “Time to start getting ready to go,” or “Don’t forget your umbrella,” will replace simple calendar alerts, and help you get where you need to go. 

3. AI helps you organize your ideas—Early voice prototypes like Siri and Alexa testify to the popularity of voice-enabled assistants. Great ideas can come to you anywhere, and virtual assistants can be there to help you save, file and organize your thoughts even when you are on the go. Voice is the ideal hands free interface for the mobile world, and personalization will make it even more useful.

4. AI helps you locate what you need at the moment -- This is one of the biggest cognitive bottlenecks that impede work. Imagine having a virtual assistant to search your email while you work, or track down the file you need. As voice interfaces mature, even conversations and sound files will become searchable databases allowing us to call up conversations and track down important ideas.

5. AI automates routine tasks—when it comes time to create an invoice, pay a bill, or send out an email, AI can help. AI can also keep track of deals and inventories, and let you know when it’s time to reorder stock, or let you know about a good price it finds.

6. AI improves the customer experience – A report by Gartner predicted that by the end of 2018, “customer digital assistants” will recognize customers by face and voice across channels and partners. No more forgotten passwords or usernames, no more reentering information over and over, no more wildly inappropriate recommendations. When friends see our faces, they light up and remember what we’ve discussed (most of the time). The most effective digital assistants will learn how to treat customers like friends.

A virtual assistant to help you rout and answer calls?

AI is transforming telecom, from better networks, to call quality and advanced analystics. To learn more about Spoke, including how our AI is powering the next generation voice UX, sign up for an interactive demo and see how to transform your mobile phone or business phone line into a smart office phone system.

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