Although they are unlikely to appear on anyone's payroll, Alexa, Cortana, Google Now, Siri and other virtual assistants will have a big influence on how work gets done over the next several years, suggests a new forecast from Tractica.
Worldwide, an estimated 145.2 million users came to rely on virtual assistants to complete some tasks, streamline workflows or enable new business processes in 2017, according to the market research firm. By 2025, that number will surpass one billion users, Tractica predicted.
Naturally, growing demand for enterprise virtual assistants will also mean big business. In 2025, Tractica expects the market to generate $7.7 billion in annual revenue.
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and growing in sophistication with each passing day, enterprise virtual assistants are enabling workers to automate repetitive tasks, engage with customers and much more, said Mark Beccue, principal analyst at Tractica.
"In the past three years, significant advances in combining natural language processing (NLP) with other forms of AI, primarily machine learning and deep learning, have made enterprise VDAs [virtual digital assistants] more intelligent and more useful,” said Beccue in a statement. "This advancement and other market factors have begun to expand the use cases for enterprise VDAs beyond customer service and marketing. Other notable use cases for enterprise VDAs include e-commerce and sales, business applications, healthcare, foreign language tutoring, and tax filing and processing."
Reflecting rising comfort levels, many office workers don't appear to need much convincing about using AI assistants in the workplace.
Recently, Cisco surveyed over 2,000 white-collar workers he U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil China, France, Germany, India and the U.K. to study their attitudes toward AI assistants. More than half (51 percent) said virtual assistants would make them more focused and 57 percent believed the technology could improve their team's productivity.
Millennial workers, in particular, seem willing to work with AI assistants.
Another study from AI software maker found that 61 percent of millennials want virtual assistants in the workplace, followed by Generation Y workers at 54 percent. Baby Boomers (55- to 64-year-olds) were evenly split at 50 percent while 43 percent of Gen Xers said they would welcome Alexa and the like into their professional lives. Less than a third (31 percent) of seniors, age 65 and over, are keen on AI assistants in the office.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.