A virtual digital assistant (VDA) can come in many forms, from a relatively basic text-based assistant to a full-fledged, multimodal digital assistant. VDAs are automated digital systems that assist the human user through understanding natural language in written or spoken form. The assistance can be delivered in many ways, from enabling self-service through a backend database of frequently asked questions (FAQs) in a search tool as found on many enterprise websites, to a conversational speech-based interaction with a VDA to facilitate scheduling, calling, dictation for emails, or text messages as found on many smartphones today using familiar names such as Cortana, Google Now, or Siri.
According to a new report from Tractica, by 2020, VDAs will penetrate more than 3.3 billion consumer devices including smartphones, tablets, smart watches, PCs, smart home devices, and automobiles, up from 821 million in 2014. The market intelligence firm forecasts that annual enterprise VDA system shipments will also more than triple during the same period.
“Virtual digital assistants represent the fusion of speech recognition, natural language processing (NLP), and artificial intelligence (AI) and hold the potential to have a transformative impact on consumer and enterprise user interfaces,” says principal analyst Peter Cooney. “The market is at a stage where the underlying technology is capable of delivering a very robust solution, but there are advancements still to be made across the board to improve digital assistants and drive further market growth and customer acceptance.”
Cooney adds that notable areas for improvement include lower power processing, advances in NLP, seamless handover, and consumer education.
Tractica’s report, “Virtual Digital Assistants”, examines the market and technology issues surrounding VDAs for consumer devices and enterprise applications. The report covers VDAs used in the smartphone, tablet, smart watch, PC, smart home, and automotive markets as well as application segments including banking and financial services, education, government, healthcare, retail, travel, utilities, telecom, and other enterprise markets. Detailed profiles are included for 10 VDAs as well as 26 key industry players. The report also provides market forecasts for embedded and third-party VDAs for the period from 2014 through 2020. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.