Do Voice Activated Assistants Have a Place in Business?

Does the Voice Activated Assistant have a place in the business? Yes it does. There are lots of voice activated assistants available to help us with our daily tasks. Some are built into mobile devices and some are purchased as specific items. The key is that they all respond to commands and can interact with other devices in our lives.

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These devices are already within most business today, but may not be used to their full potential.

“<Insert Name of Assistant> turn on the lights” – providing that the assistant has been linked to the lighting system it will turn on the lights as requested.

Voice programs and activation have been around for a long time, but have only recently become more mainstream with the advancements in the speech algorithms and technology to recognise the various dimensions and variants of the human voice. Also the ability to respond in a human voice. Brings back memories of playing around with Dr Sbaitso or watching the film War Games and wanting a talking computer “Would you like to play a game….”.

The biggest market at the moment is the consumer market with devices such as the Amazon Echo being used to connect a myriad of devices and services to build a connected home. There are a number of other assistants out there on devices that can do the same, such as Siri, Cortana, AVIC, and Google Now on the market. There are lots of others available as well.

There are also lots of projects and wishes to have an AI Assistant similar to J.A.R.V.I.S from Marvel’s Iron Man. Such a project is being carried out by Mark Zuckerberg.

For some, having devices around that are constantly listening can be a security issue. However, generally speaking, having voice activated assistants are becoming more common place in everyday lives.

Google says 20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches”, this figure would be higher including all the assistants.

We are already seeing businesses build web-based services to be voice friendly and allow access to data by looking at the type of natural questions someone may ask. Typically, a voice search will take longer than a typed search as there is an additional processing step around the voice translation to search; however, this is speeding up with the advancements in the programming and algorithms used.

Another example of a business application for voice assistants is where an operator is working with their hands and needs to get a part delivered or get answers to a question about the task they are doing.

In an office, the assistant could be used to raise a ticket on the help desk AI, which in turn will try to solve the issue before raising a ticket for a human operator to assist.

Voice has been around for a long time and the future will see it mature to be a more personalised assistant with the ability to interact by recognising the user and have the ability to be called different names, removing the current standard activation names. Linking voice, business systems, data science, AI and machine learning will see a future of being able to ask natural language voice questions to the device about the business/data and obtain a natural language response from the system.

This post first appeared on DXC.Technology in February 2017.

Author: Max Hemingway

Max is a senior architect for DXC in the United Kingdom. With more than 25 years of experience, he has a broad and deep range of technical knowledge and is able to translate business needs into IT-based solutions. Currently the chief architect of the BAE Systems account in the UK, Max has a proven track record acquired through continual client engagement and delivery of leading edge infrastructures, all of which have delivered positive results for end-clients, including IT cost reduction, expansion of service capability and increased revenues.