While voice-based digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Assistant are becoming increasingly common at home – and smartphones and wearables can be used handsfree via speech – the use of voice in the workplace is just getting started. That's likely to change in 2020 and beyond. More efficient employees, "smarter" voice-based assistants, easier ways of completing routine tasks and a digital experience in the office that matches what's used at home. A survey by 451 Research in 2019 indicated that voice UIs and digital assistants are among the most disruptive technologies for enterprises (IoT and AI are the top two), with four in 10 respondents planning to adopt voice technology within 24 months. "I expect 2020 will be the year when voice user interfaces will become prevalent in the workplace," said Raúl Castañón-Martínez, a senior analyst at 451 Research.
Siri has been a part of Apple's iPhone since 2011. The human voice is one of the most personal and unique aspects of every individual, as well as one of the most sought after means of interacting with our devices. Voice-based interfaces have, in fact, been promised as the next big breakthrough for several decades. Until recently, though, they've been much more future promise than current reality. Even with the much heralded introduction of Apple's Siri back in October of 2011, spoken interactions with computing devices have often been more comical than helpful.
Globally, the native digital assistant installed base is set to exceed 7.5 billion active devices by 2021, which is more than the world population according to the US Census Bureau on May 1, 2017. But fear not – Skynet, from the popular Terminator movies, does not feature among the leading digital assistants. Instead, Google Assistant will dominate the voice AI–capable device market with 23.3% market share, followed by Samsung's Bixby (14.5%), Ovum's Digital Assistant and Voice AI–Capable Device Forecast: 2016–21 found that smartphones and tablets clearly lead the voice AI–capable device market, with 3.5 billion active devices in 2016, most of which use Google Now and Apple Siri. However, the use of AI in conjunction with other devices greatly increases consumer engagement and is set to unlock new opportunities, particularly in the home.
The concept of virtual assistance has been in consumers' mind for more than half a century, first introduced through Sci-Fi movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) featuring virtual assistant HAL and infamous quote "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." Portrayed as a must-have feature by the consumer tech industry, our research at Ovum shows that digital assistants, in fact, fall short of consumer expectations and can't do what they want. A survey conducted by Ovum in the UK and the US in May 2017 revealed that more than 50 percent of consumers don't find digital assistants useful (see Figure 1). The digital assistant population will equal today's human population in 2021. Instead, Google Assistant will dominate the native (i.e.
Not all voice assistants can handle the same requests. We put Siri, Alexa and Google to the test. Personal digital assistants – the voice-based interfaces that started with Apple's Siri – were supposed to enable entirely new and significantly more intuitive ways of interacting with our devices, but they ended up being so frustrating that many people gave up on them. Thankfully, we're starting to see some significant advances in phone-based digital assistants, and recent developments from both Microsoft's Build and Google's I/O (and likely from Apple's upcoming WWDC) developer conferences all highlight the important progress that has been made. These conferences, primarily intended for software developers to learn about new advances in the host company's technology platforms, also serve as a great guidepost for consumers to understand how technology is evolving.