The use of virtual assistants (VAs) in the enterprises is growing. By 2021, Gartner, Inc. predicts that 25 percent of digital employees will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) such as Alexa on a daily basis. These stats are up from less than 2 percent in 2019 according to a report by the research firm Gartner.
The democratization of artificial intelligence (AI) and the development of accurate and clever conversational user interfaces have given rise to different types of VA: virtual personal assistants (VPAs), virtual customer assistants (VCAs) and VEAs.
“We expect VEAs to be used by an increasing number of organizations over the next three years,” said Annette Jump, senior director at Gartner. “Industries such as insurance and financial services are showing strong interest in piloting VEAs internally. We’ve also witnessed VAs being used in IT, customer service and information queries.”
As stated by Gartner, Amazon’s Alexa for Business helping employees delegate tasks such as scheduling meetings and logistics operations, and Nokia’s MIKA helping engineers find answers as they perform complex tasks or diagnose problems. “Ultimately, VAs used in the workplace and VEAs will increase employee productivity and foster constructive engagement,” added Ms. Jump.
The market for conversational platforms — VAs and chatbots — includes more than 1,000 vendors worldwide. However, over the next couple of years, a race to provide new capabilities will result in the vendor landscape changing drastically. It also predicts that, by 2023, 25 percent of employee interactions with applications will be via voice, up from under 3 percent in 2019.
Although most chatbots and VAs are still text-based, AI-enabled speech-to-text and text-to-speech hosted services are improving rapidly. As a result, deployment of voice-based solutions will grow states the Gartner report.
“The popularity of connected speakers in the home, such as the Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and Google Home, will increase pressure on businesses to enable similar devices in the workplace,” said Van Baker, vice president at Gartner. The study estimates that consumer and business spending on VPA speakers will top $3.5 billion in 2021.
A recent example of the integration of VPA speakers in the business is the partnership of Amazon with Marriott. The hotel operator uses Alexa-powered Echo VAs to assist with checkout procedures and management of rooms’ amenities.
“Healthcare will also embrace this trend. Voice recognition technology can also be used to place orders for tests and medications, which will save time. Undoubtedly, other companies will bring voice interactions with applications into the clinical setting, so that speech capabilities will rapidly become standard within most healthcare applications,” Barker added.