As the business landscape continues to become more competitive, businesses are always looking for new ideas to transform their organizations. Businesses look to these new ideas and technologies to help them become more profitable and leap ahead of their competition. The newest and most relevant of these technologies is Artificial Intelligence (AI). One solution AI provides is the Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA). IVAs have had a major positive impact on customer service and experiences across several business sectors. The market for IVAs is increasing at an alarming rate and is predicted to grow by 37% between 2016 – 2024 and reaching $12 Billion by 2024. Retail, hospitality, telecommunications, and banking are the largest sectors today which use IVA and have had significant benefits.

As mentioned in our previous blog Chatbots vs. RPA vs. Virtual Assistants, AI technology has been able to create a virtual assistant that can capture a user’s behavior and intention and it will adapt how it interacts with that customer. IVAs use Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning, data integration, speech recognition, and other technologies to understand the human conversational flow.

IVAs are helping businesses accomplish mundane tasks in mere minutes that would normally take human employees hours to do. The leader in IVA tech is Amazon, whose consumer IVA Alexa for Home has all but mastered this technology. At the end of 2017, Amazon turned their attention to Alexa for Business — a solution geared to help employees manage tasks such as scheduling meetings, sifting through messages, starting conference calls, reordering supplies, or keeping track of tasks. This new Alexa supports a growing list of companies integrating skills and functionality, such as, Polycom, and Concur.

Alexa for Business works just like the Alexa for Home by using a set of skills through voice command. Alexa for Business can use its tens of thousands of available skills and also create new ones. It can create private skills for their employees by using the Alexa Skills Kit and the Alexa for Business APIs.

The conversational IVA can deliver broader functionality than a chatbot. IVAs can be more proactive in monitoring key business initiatives and optimization such as key metrics. IVA frees users from having to log into dashboards to view KPIs as the IVA does it for them.

What else can IVA do to help businesses? Some examples are:

· Real-time reporting — users are alerted when there is a sudden drop in sales or revenue.

· On-demand interactions with natural language questions such as “What were total sales in the past hour?”

· Context-driven recommendations, suggested actions, and task execution. For instance, the IVA might ask the user “Total sales have declined 25% in the past hour, what would you like to do?”

· Customer segment monitoring — the user requests a customer’s journey for a particular service or application, and the IVA could provide a graphical representation for bottlenecks and metrics that must be addressed immediately.

It is possible that IVAs could also deliver insights to detect fraud in real-time, more accurate pricing models, improving product forecasts, and more. The benefits of a focused and Intelligent Virtual Assistant are endless, especially with AI crossing more technology boundaries every day.

The future for Intelligent Virtual Assistants is here and it is moving rapidly. IVAs offer businesses so many benefits to improve on how they engage with their customers by enhancing the performance and efficiency of how tasks are assigned and completed — and as we know, Customer Service is the servant to retention marketing. Welcome to the new world of business – powered by IVAs!

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