Technology

How virtual assistants are adding value to businesses everywhere

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In many cases, how we use technology at home and in our personal lives is quickly mimicked by the professional world. After all MSN messenger was first created in 1999 and spread throughout homes around the world as a popular method of communication. Fast forward 20 years and Slack, the professional messaging service, is worth over 5 billion dollars, operating within businesses throughout the world.

We can now see virtual assistants following a similar path, first finding a solid place within our homes, before entering our offices. According to Gartner, by the year 2021, 25 percent of digital workers will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) on a daily basis. This will be up from less than 2 percent in 2019. Moreover, according to a 2018 report from online IT community Spiceworks, 40 percent of businesses with more than 500 employees expect to implement one or more intelligent assistants or AI chatbots on company-owned devices in 2019.

“We expect VEAs to be used by an increasing number of organisations over the next three years,” said Annette Jump, senior director at Gartner. “Industries such as insurance and financial services are showing strong interest in piloting VEAs internally. We’ve also witnessed VAs being used in IT, customer service and information queries.”

Beyond virtual assistants in our homes, there are a number of specialist assistants which can focus on primary areas for businesses. One of which is Ninja Number, an AI-powered virtual phone service for small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

“Ninja Number is a smartphone app that puts a complete business phone system on your cellphone. We’ve kept the virtual phone system simple and easy to use by leveraging AI and conversational interface to match the device and lifestyle of entrepreneurs.  Nobody wants to get a Ph.D in PBX just to answer the phone. Depending on the level of service, Ninja Number will provide business phone numbers for customers, and you can configure the app to meet your needs, whether it’s forwarding calls to your cellphone, going to voicemail or setting up a complex multi-extension auto attendant,” stated Jay Reeder, President & CEO at Cirravox, Ninja Number’s parent company, in a recent interview with Gigastartups.

He adds: “All of that is pretty standard stuff.  Where Ninja Number excels is in helping to track and respond to leads. The app uses AI to remind the user if they haven’t responded to leads in a certain time period, and actually grades them on their responsiveness. That’s a pretty central part of what we do to help businesses in an area where they need the most help with – getting back in touch with customers. Studies show that 71% of leads are wasted. That’s a lot of money going down the drain. If you don’t get to them within 5 minutes, someone else will. We want businesses to continue to improve their responsiveness to customers. We believe that by doing this, businesses can double their sales revenue.”

As we become more accustomed to virtual assistants at home, it appears that our business lives will also receive a helping hand. We can also expect to see an increase in specialization, moving from virtual assistants which are a jack of all trades and master of none towards excellently designed systems, tailored to help with specific tasks.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company

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Sam Brake Guia
Sam is an energetic and passionate writer/presenter, always looking for the next adventure. In August 2016 he donated all of his possessions to charity, quit his job, and left the UK. Since then he has been on the road travelling through North, Central and South America searching for new adventures and amazing stories.