November 18, 2019
Smart assistants have been around for quite some time now. They have been made more popular by Apple, Amazon, and Google’s voice-controlled virtual assistants, Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. Initially, these assistants were only available on mobile devices. Now we have them in our houses answering requests and carrying out tasks, from giving you the day’s weather forecast to turning off the light in your room.
Up until now, smart assistants like Alexa have only been used as a personal tool either on mobile devices or smart speakers in homes. They are rarely found at workplaces. This has been changing gradually, though, as the potential benefits from having a smart assistant in the workplace become more apparent. Companies like Unilever have begun making use of chatbots in their workplace.
Unilever created a chatbot called Una, designed to answer their employees’ questions about things that affect them, such as company policies, vacations, salary bonuses, and so on. Nokia also uses MIKA, a voice-controlled virtual employee assistant(VEA), to aid its employees in finding answers while carrying out complex tasks. These are just one of the several companies already making good use of smart assistants.
By 2021, Gartner predicts that twenty-five percent of employees would access their applications through smart assistants, specifically voice-controlled ones. This is a significant increase from the under two percent figure in 2019. By 2022, there is going to be even more of an increase in the interaction of white-collar workers with chatbots. A 70% increase, according to Gartner. These statistics all point to the fact that smart assistants in workplaces are here to stay.
Smart assistants come in majorly two forms; text-based and voice-controlled. Both of these types are already being used by companies, as you have seen from the example above. Text-based smart assistants or chatbots, as they are more commonly referred to, are more common because of their ease of implementation, as they do not require a speech-to-text and text-to-speech interface. All interactions are text-based.
Voice-controlled virtual assistants would be handy in situations where the users work with their hands. But this might prove to be problematic in open floor arrangements. Each person using the assistant would lead to a noisy work environment, one that would be inconducive for work. So in this article, we would focus more on chatbots as smart assistants.
Unlike consumer virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home, smart assistants to be used in workplaces, have to be developed specifically for a company. Although there are general-purpose smart assistants for workplaces like Alexa for business, they can only perform generic tasks like scheduling a meeting room. When developing a chatbot for your company, certain things should be noted.
Aside from being useful to employees in their daily tasks, there are several other ways chatbots can be used in workplaces.
These are just some of the many ways chatbots can be used in workplaces. Chatbots are already being used by companies in other parts of their business. They are used to provide customer support, as well as answer queries on the product manufactured or service provided by the company.
There are several benefits to using smart assistants in the workplace. Some of these benefits are:
The proliferation of AI has led to a lot of discussion about whether AI-powered systems are going to take over jobs or not. While this fear is valid in some cases, it is a lot of times unfounded. This is especially true when it comes to smart assistants in the workplace.
Smart assistants are designed to serve as an aid wherever they are being implemented, not replace employees, or render jobs redundant. In the end, humans are the ones who would define how these technologies are used. So, companies need to research how smart assistants can improve their employees’ productivity and prepare to implement chatbots solutions for the company.
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