Gartner, world’s leading research and advisory company, recently released a survey on virtual assistants. The survey mentions that the use of virtual assistants (VAs) in the workplace is on the rise. By 2021, 25% of digital workers will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) on a daily basis, says Gartner.
With the democratisation of artificial intelligence (AI) and the development of accurate and clever conversational UIs, different types of VA have arisen: virtual personal assistants (VPAs), virtual customer assistants (VCAs) and VEAs, says the report.
With insurance and financial industries showing massive interest in deploying VEAs, the trend is expected to grow further. With regard to the same, in an interview with DataQuest, Ms Annette Jump, Senior Director at Gartner, gives reasons for the increased use of Virtual Assistants and how cybersecurity could affect this development.
Reasons for increased adoption of virtual assistants
Virtual assistants (VAs) will reshape user interactions with devices in the digital workplace over the next five years. The democratization of AI and conversational UIs will create opportunities to deliver more-personalized consumer and employee experiences. Virtual employee assistants (a type of VA designed for workplace use) can help with a variety of tasks unlike the narrowly-focused, primarily text-based chatbots often integrated into messaging platforms today.
The increased use of VEAs will lead to increased digital dexterity by simplifying access to complex enterprise systems, saving employees time and effort across numerous interactions. Satisfaction with VA capabilities is still moderate at best, as users still encounter friction in conversing with them due to their inability to preserve context. While a lack of depth and contextual insights can limit the usefulness of virtual assistants today, they will become much more viable in the next few years.
Virtual assistants are rapidly becoming smarter through the ongoing development of foundational AI technologies, increasing their accuracy and cleverness. VEAs will build off of the successes and advances of their consumer counterparts to bring value to organizations. They will increase employee productivity, engagement and digital dexterity by enabling digital workers to:
- Interact with enterprise systems in a more democratized manner.
- Reduce the technical burden in using various enterprise systems.
- Delegate routine tasks such as scheduling meetings and approving time off.
- Receive important contextual information through notifications and alerts.
Impact of this Trend on Hiring
For now we don’t see any immediate impact.
Cybersecurity and Voice Assistants: Is it a Concern?
It depends on what kind of assistants are used – virtual personal assistants, like Apple Siri or Amazon Alexa (and if they have the required managed corporate data/apps controls) vs. Virtual Enterprise assistants (which are used for very specific tasks) and where are they being used. Like asking VA for the latest corporate sales data in a busy public coffee (being connected to a coffee shops Wi-Fi) might not be a very good idea from a security point of view. There is a need for education around appropriate usage scenarios and need for IT to control from what device/location the user request is coming from.