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AI Will Make The Difference Between Using Voice As A Toy And Using Voice As A Productive Assistant

Steve Stove
Steve Stover, VP, Products and Strategy, ITSM at SolarWinds

Voice-enabled devices have huge potential to become an integral part of the workplace. Employees currently spend much of their workdays completing tasks that could be automated with the assistance of a voice-enabled device reveals Steve Stover, VP, Products and Strategy, ITSM at SolarWinds during an interview with Niloy from BISinfotech. To understand the further impact, present-future of this nascent technology, Steve shares below his expertise in this domain. Edited Nub.  

Impact of Voice-Enabled Assistants on consumer behaviour?

Since voice-enabled assistants were first introduced, millions of devices have been adopted by consumers. Whether you’re in your kitchen and need a recipe recited or driving and need directions, consumers are increasingly conversing with these connected devices to enhance their daily lives. The more comfortable consumers are with the technology, the more we’ve seen it impact shopping and workplace behaviors. Many devices are now being used to order products, restock inventory, and connect with brands like we’ve never seen before. Voice-enabled technology has already impacted consumer expectations of instant service and communication, and more brands are implementing virtual assistants in the form of voice-enabled devices or chatbots to interact with their consumers.

How will voice transform the workplace, specifically in IT departments?

Voice-enabled devices have huge potential to become an integral part of the workplace. Employees currently spend much of their work days completing tasks that could be automated with the assistance of a voice-enabled device. More than 1/3 of IT professionals spend up to 2 hours per day on work that could be automated. Many IT workers spend their days addressing and sorting individual tickets, but with a voice-assistant, the device could enter the ticket for them and transfer it to the correct team, freeing up their time for higher level tasks. The key is connecting these devices to business applications to help get work done.

What are the some common applications of voice in the workplace?

The most common applications of voice in the workplace are using connected devices for simple manual tasks that take up valuable time, like entering and categorizing information, alerting workers of system issues, and tracking inventory. By speaking to an assistant, employees can let these connected devices enter information, set tasks for other team members, and complete tasks. Voice can also be used to track inventory or software updates and can be used to set reminders for each, or to pull the necessary information a worker might need. Virtual assistants will be crucial as workplaces become more digital and rely on multiple technologies to communicate, and can help employees stay on task throughout the day.

How key roles developments like Google’s Assignable Reminders will play?

Google’s Assignable Reminders are an example of a development that could heighten employee productivity and collaboration. While the reminders have been promoted as a way to assign household tasks to family members, it’s clear that an office who utilizes voice assistants could use this capability to possibly assign tasks to team members and ensure they are followed up on with reminders. By connecting workflows and management tasks through voice-enabled devices, workplaces can become more efficient and productive when assigning tasks.

Any use cases, opportunities and concerns in Voice-Enabled Assistants?

There are many use cases for voice, and I think assistants have great potential, not only for completing nuanced tasks, but for assigning tasks to coworkers, running meetings, and tracking productivity. In an IT department, with so many different technologies at play, voice can also be a way to connect systems and assign the correct teams to different issues that may arise in the company.

For employees, one primary concern with voice-enabled assistants is likely privacy and data security, as it is with all rising tech. By making the terms of privacy completely transparent from the beginning, company executives can ensure the purpose of these devices is clear to the workforce. Voice-enabled assistants are only meant to assist in employees’ daily lives, so it’s important to have employee buy-in before investing.

How is AI transforming this nascent technology?

AI will make the difference between using voice as a toy and using voice as a productive assistant. With machine learning capabilities, a voice-enabled assistant is not only able to intelligently respond, but signal a response to the system based on your query, such as sorting a ticket request or completing the task automatically. As we see continued improvements in AI, we’ll see a correlation in improved voice-enabled devices as well. Another example is predicting when a preventative action needs to be taken and the voice assistant can request direction based on the prediction and shift toward proactive assistance.

 What do you think is the future of voice-enabled technology?

This technology will shift from simple task automation to more complex business processing tied to workflow. It will also evolve adding predictive shifts from reactive to proactive.

Data security consistently polls as one of the top reasons where current non-owners have shied away from adopting connected devices. Will this impact voice-enable assistant technology?

Much like challenges with early adoption of technology that could make some data available, many of those issues are overcome with technology, regulation, and oversight. Any impacts will be in the near term and we can expect this technology to be as ubiquitous as browsing the internet.

Your expertise and knowledge-base into this technology?

I’ve led an advanced analytics platform team, introduced AI into our products for service, built a prototype voice-based assistant, and presented to the market.


Niloy Banerjee

A generic movie-buff, passionate and professional with print journalism, serving editorial verticals on Technical and B2B segments, crude rover and writer on business happenings, spare time playing physical and digital forms of games; a love with philosophy is perennial as trying to archive pebbles from the ocean of literature. Lastly, a connoisseur in making and eating palatable cuisines.

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