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Business Process Automation

Forget the home, voice assistants are invading the workplace

Much of the headlines about chatbots and digital assistants are focused either on the home or on social media platforms like Slack or Facebook. But what about the office? Are we going to stop talking to each other and start talking to bots?

According to Spicework’s Future of IT report – surveying 560 IT pros globally - 19% of businesses are currently using intelligent assistants/chatbots for work-related tasks on company-owned devices, which another 30% are planning to use them in business over the next three years. 

Siri, Cortana, Google?

Despite Google being seen as the most innovative in the space, Apple’s Siri is currently the most used intelligent assistant; 52% of IT pros use Tim Cook’s virtual aid. Microsoft’s Cortana is the second most popular and is currently used by 45% of IT types, but a further 21% plan to start using the service over the next 12 months, possibly driven by Windows 10 adoption as it moves further into the enterprise. Google Now is the third most popular, followed by a collected ‘others’. Amazon’s Alexa has hardly made any inroads into the office: just 4% currently use it for work, and only another 6% plan to start (possibly hampered by limited roll out, but how useful could an Alexa linked to your AWS infrastructure be?).

It’s interesting to see that adoption rates suggest IT pros use multiple voice assistants, possibly reflecting the growing stack of devices and presence of assistants on any platform. It’s not hard to imagine one person having Cortana on the Surface, Siri on the Macbook, and Now on the Android.

According to the study, these assistants aid productivity through dictation (which reduces typing time), improved data analysis, automated help desk tickets and customer transaction.

When asked about their thoughts around wider AI, 14% think the technology threatens their jobs, but a massive 69% think the resulting automation will allow IT to focus on more strategic initiatives. 19% think it represents an “existential threat to humanity”.

Also Read:

The weird and wonderful future of AI chatbots

Chetan Dube talks virtual assistants, the Turing Test & mainstream AI

Office 2021: Why robots won’t end drudgery or steal our jobs

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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