“Hey Siri, remind me to call Beth about the new sales proposal.”
Voice assistants like Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant already help many people accomplish small business tasks such as scheduling meetings, providing directions to an appointment or sending quick responses to messages. Other than these simple functions, however, voice assist has yet to become prevalent in the workplace.
That may change, however. While an office complex full of employees having simultaneous virtual conversations isn’t likely any time soon, there are opportunities to leverage voice assist in smaller settings such as private offices and conference rooms. The technology is still in its infancy, but it will likely become more mainstream as its capabilities improve and users become more willing to use it.
How Voice Assist is Evolving
Even though the concept of voice commands was made popular by the original Star Trek series more than 50 years ago, voice assist is still a relatively new technology. In fact, the first commercial voice assistant (Siri) was only introduced by Apple in 2011. While the technology is progressing, it hasn’t necessarily advanced by leaps and bounds since then, and its capabilities are still somewhat limited.
In the near future, voice assist will improve its recognition capabilities through the power of deep learning, a form of artificial intelligence. In fact, some deep learning functionalities are already in play, such as facial recognition and self-driving cars. Unlike the more familiar machine learning, where iterative improvements are automatically made based on algorithms and historic data, deep learning goes a step further.
Whereas machine learning may be able to predict a pattern of speech based on previous content, for example, deep learning can recognize almost anyone’s speech without training by gleaning vast amounts of data from across the internet. With deep learning, a device will be able to take meeting notes with much more accuracy and identify different voices in the room to transcribe the conversations taking place.
Deep learning will also improve translations of foreign languages, allowing for more global collaboration and interaction. Also consider how voice assist could fuel a brainstorm session or serve as a tool for collaboration. While the interactive capabilities of voice assist are currently somewhat robotic, it will eventually become more conversational and “learn” to understand language better and respond accordingly because of deep learning.
What Voice Assist Means for Business and IT Departments
As voice assist becomes increasingly mainstream in the workplace, IT departments will face many challenges. As it stands now, the various forms of voice assist, machine learning and artificial intelligence operate on multiple platforms, operating systems, apps and hardware, making it difficult to harness their potential without considerable resources and expertise.
Not only will IT professionals need to have a complete grasp of its functionality and how and if its unique configurations and capabilities can integrate with networks and legacy systems; they’ll also need to help define and implement strategies for leveraging the technology and provide education for an entire pool of users within an enterprise. As voice assist becomes more interactive and “personal,” IT professionals will need to follow suit. Those who can combine their technical skills along with strategic and interpersonal qualities will achieve greater success as deep learning and voice assist become more prevalent in business.
Adoption of the technology may be slow at first, but around the corner may be a breakthrough that launches the power of voice assist to a new level yet to be discovered. Businesses that remain informed and prepared for change will be better positioned to take advantage of the benefits it has to offer. Some of these benefits may include increased productivity and sales, better innovations, improved culture and collaboration, the ability to increase global market share and more.
Is your business positioned to meet the demands that future technology advancements may bring? Many smaller and mid-sized businesses struggle to manage existing systems, networks and security concerns, let alone what may be on the horizon. If that’s you, consider partnering with a Managed IT provider to oversee your systems, keep you informed of emerging technology trends and help you prepare for what’s next.
Be sure to check out the guide below to see if your company is a fit for Managed IT and, if you’d like to discuss your current or future technology needs, reach out to the experts at the Gordon Flesch Company.