As shown by Baidu’s virtual assistant announcement, tech giants are racing to humanize technology—but what are the implications for you?
Virtual Assistants can be said to operate at the intersection of knowledge databases and services and products that further enable personalization. With so much opportunity underlying this area from a service and product standpoint, it’s no wonder players like Apple, Facebook and Samsung are all working to crack this space. And the latest foray comes from China’s search giant Baidu as they announced the release of Duer, a voice-activated concierge service that will be installed on millions of smartphones across China.
The search app will handle requests like ordering food or getting advice on medical matters. The company is also boasting superior image recognition capabilities that will also be embedded into Baidu’s self-driving cars, which they’re making alongside BMW.
Some makers like Apple or Microsoft are taking a device approach (think Siri). Others, like Google and Microsoft, take a cloud approach, while others are taking a more programmatic approach (think Facebook’s M.)
The central mission for these developers is intuitive design that encourages conversation rather than swiping, clicking and typing. Facebook takes the approach of using a mixture of algorithms and human operators for their virtual assistant product, M. This is intended to give Facebook a leg up on how Apple, Microsoft and Google interpret demands, which is focused on automated responses to factual queries and simple commands. On the other hand, what Siri or Google Now do is not simple at all, because these platforms are meshing together a slew of apps to generate the best answer.
When we looked at Baidu’s Duer, it’s not clear which approach they are taking, but it is most likely to be the approach of other tech giants (which means it will either be based on cloud technology or device).
Assessing the Opportunity
The first step to adapting in a fast-moving world is always a sound business strategy. Virtual Assistants are just a small part of the shifting technological landscape but there are at least three key opportunities for brands in this realm:
Maximizing containment on a website
Increase sales through up-selling and cross-selling
Improve customer experience
If you’re still not taking these platforms into account, keep in mind that Virtual Assistants will be accessible by anyone with a mobile phone. Brands will need to adapt to the knowledge that voice-oriented platforms like Siri and S Voice because of the way they enhance way-finding and lessen friction in the consumer journey overall.
Today consumers are increasingly expecting their identity and history to be integrated into a variety of brand touch points. — that brands are expected to be knowledgeable on some level.
Data provides brands and technology companies with unprecedented chances to accomplish a more personalized experience for the consumer. Thus brands must continually respond to the technology industry’s advancements. A coherent business strategy makes it easier to ascertain the best way to approach disruptive and subtle technological advancements.