Gartner’s Strategic Predictions Spotlight Digital Assistants

Gartner Strategic Predictions 2016Gartner recently published their Top Strategic Predictions for 2016 and Beyond. Gartner is projecting a substantial role for smart machines and digital assistants in the enterprise over the next few years. Looking towards 2020, Gartner is even more bullish on the market for smart digital devices. At the same time, the research and advisory firm warns of the coming disruption that enterprises and workers are likely to encounter as smart machines become ever more prevalent.  

Out of their top predictions, let’s take a closer look at the following two:

By YE18, customer digital assistants will recognize individuals by face and voice across channels and partners.

Gartner is betting that customer digital assistants will increasingly be outfitted to recognize individual customers. Gartner believes that these assistants will leverage front-facing smartphone cameras to identify customers and use smartphone microphones for voice recognition.

Gartner’s overall predictions for how customer digital assistants will evolve over the next several years are quite ambitious. Their report describes a scenario in which a customer uses her phone so that a retail brand’s digital assistant can recognize her and check her in when she arrives at the store. The assistant picks up the conversation with the customer where it left off when they last interacted.

Another assistant embedded in the dressing room mirror converses with the customer to recommend additional clothing pieces that match her ensemble based on what it knows is in stock and on sale in her size. The assistant even executes the payment transaction so that the customer never has to stand in a check-out line.

Gartner recommends that companies and brands serving customers quickly start adopting customer digital assistant technologies. They note that a tremendous advantage of these technologies is their  “pull” or “opt-in” engagement pattern. Customers can choose to interact with the assistant when and where they need to for optimal service, instead of being interrupted by unsolicited messages they don’t want.

By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40% of mobile interactions, and the post­app era will begin to dominate.

Gartner predicts that our fascination with apps is about to give way to app fatigue and a desire for a simpler, more seamless way to engage with digital services. Gartner sees the coming wave of virtual personal assistants (VPAs) as the new user interface of choice. For one thing, VPAs are easier to interact with via voice or text-driven conversational interfaces.

But the biggest advantage of VPAs is that they will leverage machine learning and rich data models to understand us and predict what we want and need. They will also learn how to execute many of the repetitive and even complex tasks that we perform daily and take care of those tasks for us. No longer burdened with mundane workflows, we’ll have time to carry out more creative pursuits.

Gartner notes that there is still much to explore around the implications for our privacy. But the potential gains in workforce productivity make it imperative that businesses continue to press forward. Gartner encourages businesses to aggressively plan for what they term the “post-app” era. Developing a strategy for VPAs should be at the forefront of that planning.

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