The use of virtual assistants in the workplace is growing manifold with 25 per cent of digital workers likely to use a virtual employee assistant daily by 2021, as against less than 2 per cent in 2019, said global research and advisory firm.
According to a report by Gartner, Inc, the contact centre was the pilot and testing ground for many adopters of virtual assistants (VAs), but with the democratisation of artificial intelligence (AI) and the development of accurate and clever conversational user interfaces (UIs), different types of VA have arisen: virtual personal assistants (VPAs), virtual customer assistants (VCAs) and virtual employee assistants (VEAs).
“We expect VEAs to be used by an increasing number of organisations 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.”
Examples include 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,” said 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 leaders looking to implement a conversation platform should determine the capabilities they need from such a platform in the short term and select a vendor on that basis,” said Jump.
Gartner predicts that, by 2023, 25 per cent of employee interactions with applications will be via voice, up from under 3 per cent 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.