Virtual Assistants

If you lived in the 70’s or probably watched an old movie that dates back then such as the Godfather or the Exorcist, you would bear with me that the world has really changed.

From the clickety-clack sound of the typewriter, the paper-clad wooden desks, the fancy file cabinets to the wide windows of offices back then, everything in life was a normal abnormal.

Then came the widespread usage of the mobile phone, the modernization of cars, the personalization of computers and thankfully today, our iPhones and Samsungs never leave our sides.

In this short piece, we would be discussing a trending technology that is making the lives of many people comfortable today.

We shall also highlight its importance to the personal and commercial well-being of individuals and the society at large.

Virtual assistants have changed the scope of the conduct of businesses and the lives of individuals around the globe ever since their introduction.

Below is a brief history of how they came about.

A virtual assistant is a special type of software that acts as an agent to perform services and tasks for an individual.

The first appliance that was designed to perform digital speech recognition functions was the IBM Shoebox launched in 1961 and made public in 1962.

Later in the 1970’s, the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania with support from the United States Department of Defence made a device (Harpy) that could master over 1000 vocabulary words.

Ten years later, the same group of researchers used the Hidden Markov Model technology to further analyze not only individual vocabulary words but also entire word sequences.

In the 1990’s, personal computer brands such as IBM and Philips incorporated digital speech recognition into their systems.

Ever since their initial developments, virtual assistants have grown to be widely accepted in all spheres of life including smartphones and chatbots.

Let us now look at the benefits of this emerging technology to humans at large.

One of the key drivers of businesses is resource efficiency.

Ensuring that you earn the highest possible returns from the least amount of inputs is key to enhancing a firm’s profitability and survival.

Since the cost of labor is one of the main costs of businesses, virtual assistants are helping positively to reduce the labor cost of businesses and hence improving upon their operational efficiency as a whole.

Additionally, virtual assistants do not break down and hence the breakdown related cost of labor is reduced substantially.

Virtual assistants are also known for their speed of work and swift responses to orders.

Since no emotions are attached to the productivity of virtual assistants, there is always an uninterrupted and highly productive operational environment in the workplace.

Due to the absence of restrictions of virtual assistants to a smartphone application, the virtual assistant technology has been applied to other sectors of industry such as manufacturing, building and construction, healthcare, retail, and education.

With the aid of conversational commerce, work that would have been done by customer service respondents can be done by live chats on e-commerce and chatbots.

We all welcome the news of new technological developments such as autonomous vehicles and virtual assistants not only for their fanciness but also because of how they make work easier for all.

In the field of customer response, one virtual assistant such as chatbots can aid numerous customer attendants in responding to customer issues by issuing standard customer responses.

For example, the Paypal customer response team is relieved of huge amounts of inquiries because virtual assistants have been programmed to cater for most of the routine concerns that are usually placed by customers.

Also, living at home can be very easy with the help of virtual assistants.

For example with the Amazon Alexa, you can ask your virtual assistant questions from “what is the weather of new york? ” to “how long do peas take to cook? “.

You can also connect the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to your home light, refrigerator and other home appliances for voice commands and automated operations to save yourself the headache of remote controls.

You may even instruct your virtual assistant to remind you of your dinner with your spouse or date.

Clearly, virtual assistants hold the key to future home living and the future for it is exciting.

According to an “Ovum” study, “native digital assistant installed base” is estimated to reach up to 7.5 billion AI devices, a figure that would exceed the world’s population by 2021.

Virtual assistants can aid in enforcing the security of your home and business place.

With the ability and capacity of virtual assistant devices to create synergy with other security devices, your home and office security can be enhanced considerably.

For example with google assistant enabled devices, you can connect your home security device to your google home device in order to have AI enabled security at your home.

In 2018, a research team from the University of California made a publication that revealed that audio inputs undetectable for the human ear can be directly embedded into virtual assistant friendly formats thereby enabling them to perform functions without the user taking note of.

These virtual assistant friendly commands can aid the device to open websites, dial phone numbers and even transfer money securely.

Devices from Google, Apple and Amazon have implemented these security features into the systems.

Virtual assistants create the platform for companies to embed high-end technological applications into their operations.

Chatbots, computer facial animations, expert systems, intelligent agent, and simulated realities all work hand in hand with virtual assistants.

Google home and Amazon’s Alexa platforms all lay the foundation for synergy with other technologies immerging for the corporate world.

Firstly, the main limitation of virtual assistants is that they compete with human labor for job spaces.

Jobs previously dominated by humans such as customer service response, project assistance, and Secretarial jobs would be in limited supply due to the application and employment of virtual assistants.

Due to the high demand for virtual assistants for their efficiency, most spaces in the job market may soon be taken over from humans.

This would have an adverse effect on job supply on the job market for humans.

Finally, virtual assistants may not render quality services as humans.

We all are familiar with how disgusting chat robots can be.

We don’t usually feel that connection that we deserve as humans when interacting with a chat robot.

Hence the quality of service of virtual assistants can be a really challenging task if their performance is not improved.

Virtual assistants represent the future and should be embraced by all stakeholders.

The benefits the human race can derive from these humble devices cannot be overemphasized and hence proper steps must be taken to invest and improve on the quality of virtual assistants to better serve present and future generations.