Technological developments are bringing the future to us, much faster than we anticipated it would. Voice based tech assistants have been around for a while, and chances are you have met at least one of the 5 bigwigs – Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, Siri or Bixby. By and large, from being a part of your smartphone, these assistants are gradually expanding to be a part of other personal technology, creating in the long run, a voice-based ecosystem. With us standing on the precipice of the Internet of Things, such speech-based interaction with technology is the general direction things are taking. That being said, digital assistants are merely a fragmented beginning to it all.
But before we reach a stage where Siri will have a meal in the oven for us and Google Assistant anticipates your child’s homework, or Cortana plans the office outing that you have been putting off, let’s take a look at where digital assistants truly stand today and if they actually lend themselves to the creation of a self-reliant customer support ecosystem.
Digital Assistants Work in The Confines of a Fixed Universe:Think about it, Google Assistant is confined to your Android device; Alexa makes sense only with Amazon Echo, Siri – still trying to catch up on enabling third party services – needs the iPhone, and Cortana works its best only with Windows 10. The new-kid-on-the-block, Bixby, makes controlling Samsung’s apps a piece of cake and… that’s about it. All this essentially restricts the universe within which your assistant can function. Without the ability to transcend such individual universes of functionality, the benefits are like having a very efficient employee confined to only one room of the office. Seamless interaction necessary to customer support across platforms then becomes a dream.
Convenience at the Cost of Privacy: With digital transactions – information seeking, purchasing or simple browsing have all had a singular problem – the level of privacy ensured. Great customer service is all about knowing your client, anticipating needs and throwing up useful suggestions. Your digital assistant is able to do all of this for you because it picks up on the all the crumbs your digital footprint leaves behind. All of this information is stored, scrutinized and used to predict your online behavior. With all of this easily available to the service provider, how safe can one’s private information really be? Especially when you are looking at customer service of unparalleled heights. Yes, your digital assistant can take the pain out of the mundane, but it can also harbor secrets you definitely do not want shared.
Are They Really Reliable Sources of Information?: The backbone of any customer-driven service has to be the quality of information provided. In real life, assistants need to be able to complete that last mile requirement of providing accurate information, irrespective of whether it falls within their expertise or not. In the case of digital assistants, they rely on information that is accrued in their main hubs, parse your queries and provide you information accordingly. Studies conducted by Statista have shown that Google clearly has an upper hand in this department followed by Cortana, with Siri and Alexa being on par with each other. With quality of information being sketchy, efficient applications in customer-oriented services naturally becomes subjective.
What essentially needs to be done with this technology is to work towards the creation of what is known as ambient computing – an idea that consolidates all these various technologies into just one or two – which in turn can work out all voice commands, cutting across barriers of platforms. This is when it can be introduced into automation for home, cars and just about any personal technology related platform, seamlessly.
This idea is still work in progress and may take at least a decade, if not more to get there. Till that happens, booking an Uber through Siri will continue to take multiple turns and auto correct on Google is going to answer questions you did not mean to ask.