CHENNAI: The use of virtual assistants (VAs) in the workplace is growing. By 2021, advisory firm Gartner predicts that 25 per cent of digital workers will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) on a daily basis. This will be up from less than two per cent in 2019.
“We expect VEAs to be used by an increasing number of organisations over the next three years,” said Annette Jump, senior director, 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,” she added.
The contact centre was the pilot and testing ground for many adopters of VAs, but with the democratisation of artificial intelligence (AI) and the development of accurate and clever conversational user interfaces, different types of VAs have arisen: virtual personal assistants (VPAs), virtual customer assistants (VCAs) and VEAs.
The market for conversational platforms 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.
Gartner also 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. Gartner predicts that consumer and business spending on VPA speakers will top $3.5 billion in 2021.
“We believe that 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.
In the healthcare sector, remote diagnostics and elder-care applications will be enabled by VPA speakers. Some are already being piloted.