The use of virtual assistants (VAs) in the workplace is growing. Gartner predicts that 25% of digital workers will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) on a daily basis. This will be up from less than 2% in 2019.
“We expect VEAs to be used by an increasing number of organizations over the next three years,” said Annette Jump, senior director at 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.”
The market for conversational platforms like VAs and chatbots 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. “IT leaders looking to implement a conversation platform should determine the capabilities they need from such a platform in the short term, and select a vendor on that basis,” said Ms. Jump.
Gartner predicts that, by 2023, 25% of employee interactions with applications will be via voice, up from under 3% 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.
“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. “While there are limitations on the actions that VPAs can perform, employees will readily expand the actions allowed as capabilities improve.”
Gartner predicts that consumer and business spending on VPA speakers will top $3.5 billion in 2021.
In the healthcare sector, remote diagnostics and elder-care applications will be enabled by VPA speakers. Some are already being piloted. “Voice technology is also already being used by physicians to document patient data within electronic health records,” added Mr. Baker. “Voice recognition technology can also be used to place orders for tests and medications, which will save time. Undoubtedly, other companies will bring voice interactions with applications into the clinical setting, so that speech capabilities will rapidly become standard within most healthcare applications.”
Voice interfaces free digital workers from having to use a mouse and keyboard when interacting with business applications. This freedom can benefit frontline workers greatly. “Enabling voice interaction with applications will ultimately enhance the digital dextirity of workers who have access to them,” said Mr. Baker.
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