Gimmick or Revolution? Are Intelligent Personal Assistants the future?

Internet of Things

So, we’re almost through January and getting to that point where New Year’s Resolutions have already come and gone, we’re all trying to drop the Christmas weight and the novelty of the tech gadget presents has long since worn off and some are back in their boxes. One of the biggest selling of these gadgets this Christmas was Amazon’s Echo range of devices or Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs).

Alexa and her cohorts Siri, Cortana and Google Now have promised to revolutionise our lives, with little significant outcome other than allowing users to reduce the amount of typing they do to check the weather or find out the score of the latest sporting event.

But is the truth masked by the marketing hype directing these devices for use at home. Look a little deeper at the technology that’s being used and becoming more readily available and it’s potentially a different story if we take Alexa to work.

Recently Amazon launched ‘Alexa for Business’, making it easier for people to use Alexa in their organization. Alexa for Business provides companies with the tools to manage Alexa-enabled devices across their network and is a distinct statement as to Amazon (and others) view that this technology is here and here to stay.

So what…….

Intelligent Personal Assistants are just that, they are here to make our lives easier, less stressful and more productive. They form an interface between the user and not just their PC, but the connected world or IoT (Internet of Things).

We can ask for things in natural language and have Alexa translate that to actions or search for whatever it is we need.

Here and now…..

As of today, here’s a few ways that IPAs can help us on a daily basis:

Schedule Meetings, Activities and Tasks. Linked to this your IPA can also book travel, accommodation and restaurants, learning from your likes and dislikes over time to refine choices on your behalf.

Reminders of upcoming events, meetings and tasks can be complemented with additional information such as traffic delays suggesting you need to leave earlier for a meeting, take an umbrella as it’s likely to rain or update you on recent news regarding the company or person you’re meeting with.

Find and retrieve documents across your entire network or online presenting them in order of relevance.

Compose, send and respond to emails.

Research topics across all forms of electronic media.

Start conference calls and make conference rooms setting up lighting, projectors and screens etc.

Repetitive tasks account for circa 25% of our daily activities, so let you IPA do them for you.

“Big Data” may offer a lot of information about consumers as well as the marketplace in general, but the reality is that it is can be very difficult for people to understand and/or process. IPAs can analyse data quickly, and present it in an understandable and targeted manner.

These are all fairly innocuous examples and point towards much of this technology being embryonic but with advancements in AI and Bot development, the use of IPAs is set to grow and we will see examples of this migrating from home use to the office and everywhere in between.

Given that our voice is the most natural way to interact with others, why not use the same method to interact with our technology?