Virtual Assistants Enter the Enterprise

Posted by Hugh on February 13, 2014 in Annotated, References, Trends in eLearning |

Aquino, J. (2012). VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS ENTER THE ENTERPRISE (Vol. 16, pp. 30-34): Information Today Inc.

This article explores several virtual digital assistant, which are Nina – Siri – Lexee – Sophia, telephone applications. They are voice activated systems via telephone and can be used to book flights, make hotel reservations, retrieve bank balance, produce sales report and then be instructed to take notes via speech recognition or connect a telephone call to a sales person. In the article Kate Leggett, Forrester Research senior analyst, is quoted saying that speech recognition is a hard nut crack. It details how accents, variation in speech patterns and background noise increase the chance of humorous mistakes. At present all understand English in various accents, UK – US – Australian, and the race is on to develop in Spanish and Japanese versions. Industries that are using or have expressed an interest are banking, financial, travel, insurance and business consulting.

The advantages to the organisation include a more personal interaction for the customer without having to navigate a complex telephone menu system, i.e. press 1 for X press 2 for Y. Advantages to the customer is that they do not have to read text on small screens, do not have use small keyboards, have a hand off experience and can complete tasks while stuck in traffic.

This article reminded me of Bajarin’s (2014) article called ‘Tech Finds Its Voice: The Future of Virtual Assistants‘ where it proposes that smartphones in the future will not only respond to our requests but will make decisions based on information provided. For example, in the above article the assistant will book flights but no hotel if not instructed. Bajarin’s article proposes that in the future the digital assistant will recognise accommodation is needed and suggest hotels based on previous criteria. This will take digital assistants to the next level.

The time where a digital assistant can replace an actual real person is a long time away in my opinion but there are proven merits already with digital assistants. I had a recent experience with my energy supplier, Electric Ireland, where I was asked to speak at intervals to assist the system to navigate my call to the correct operator, i.e. is it say gas or electricity you are enquiring about. This was better then the press 1 for electricity, press 2 for gas in my experience.


Bajarin, B 2014, ‘Tech Finds Its Voice: The Future of Virtual Assistants’, Time.Com, p. 1, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 February 2014.

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