Image via Adam Bowie/Flickr CC
Smart assistants are appearing in homes across the country, and high-end tech companies are competing for their share of the market. Amazon (AMZN) has the Echo, better known as Alexa, Google (GOOGL) has Google Home, and Apple (AAPL) has the HomePod. Lenovo recently released a smart assistant that runs off of Alexa Voice Services (AVS) in an attempt to share in some of the glory. It might seem strange that Amazon would allow another business to use its technology, but at the end of the day, working in collaboration with Lenovo helps put a dent in Google’s influence.
How do they work?
Smart assistants, also called virtual assistants, run off of Artificial Intelligence (AI). They are designed with a combination of three unique features: voice recognition, machine learning, and the ability to process natural language. These devices learn based off of your behavior – after getting to know you, they can take action and make recommendations based on your personal preferences.
They can also complete a number of tasks after being activated using a “wake word.” You can manage your schedule, stream music and movies, and get accurate answers to most of your questions. AI enables your device to narrow down personal preferences over time, making robot-human interaction a user-friendly experience.
Additionally, you can teach smart assistants a variety of skills and pair them with compatible smart devices to accomplish even more. If you want to change the temperature on the thermostat or turn the lights off in your house, you just have to ask Alexa or Google.
Are they undermining businesses?
There are millions of smart assistants being used around the country and their reach will go even further in 2018. AI is heavily sough-after in the business world and still has a lot of unknown potential. Since smart assistants are a byproduct of this technology, their power and precision will continue to grow over time. This is an important consideration for businesses, since these robots are now equipped with transactional capabilities.
The looming threat is to small businesses that don’t have the technology in place to compete with an e-commerce giant like Amazon or Google. These tech-conglomerates have made it incredible easy to shop online solely through voice commands and re-order common purchases. Amazon’s Alexa will even provide you with a list of daily deals if you ask her, offering exclusive discounts for product owners. Brick-and-mortar retailers will have a hard time competing when the alternative is quick, accessible, and intuitive.
That being said, there are a lot of benefits that come from the emergence of smart assistants. Some of these include:
- Smart assistants are a new channel of retail for businesses to thrive on
- Consumers have instant access to business information, including store hours and proximity
- Customers are more inclined to take action by making a call or purchase
- The threat of a bad customer experience is removed
- More purchases are made in response to quick, voice-controlled ordering
Recently, smart assistants have been also promoted as a widespread business solution. Instead of just pinpointing all of the individual households in the county, Amazon and Google are targeting larger corporations. Out of office supplies? Need to reschedule that meeting? Your smart assistant will make sure everyone is on the same page. It can manage your email, phone calls, and schedule, making it incredibly simple to complete daily tasks. It can even power the devices at your workstation.
Smart assistants will have an impact on some businesses, but they will also help raise awareness for others. It will also make the consumer journey easier from lead to repeat customer. Make sure you stay on the winning side by maintaining a solid online presence and adapting to technological advancements.