I was recently interviewed for an interesting article in CEO Magazine titled Virtual PAs: Are they the ideal helpers for today’s business elite?
The article delves into the emerging range of AI-based virtual assistants such as x.ai and Evie as well as related offerings such as personalized chatbots.
The title of the article is misleading, in that any AI-based service that provides sufficient value to users will almost certainly be offered to broader markets than just the ‘elite’. One of the boons of consumer technology is that it is highly democratic. Even a relatively low-income person in a developed country can buy and use exactly the same smartphone as the richest person on the planet. If services are provided online, the scalability and extensibility is even greater.
The highest potential value of AI-based assistants will very simply be in becoming users’ portal to everything. If AI assistants are entrusted to help people with everyday tasks, they will also be be the first port of call to access almost any purchasing decision. Thus the extraordinary potential value of this space.
The article quotes me:
For futurist Ross Dawson, the rise of super-intelligent VPA is inevitable, given their enormous money-making potential. Dawson, who is Founding Chairman of Advanced Human Technologies Group, tells The CEO Magazine that while start-ups are doing interesting things, the real value will be in building a digital helper that everyone can use.
“The reality is that the value in creating a very functional VPA is going to be greater in providing it for everyone than to a limited audience. “These VPAs become people’s primary interface to everything. You could ask them things like ‘Can you book me that restaurant?’, or ‘Can you buy me that book that I would like for my upcoming trip?’, and they will be able to provide those functions.”
Therein, according to Dawson, lies the reason why the tech giants are in this market.“It will become your primary interface to commerce,” he says. “That is extraordinarily valuable and why each of the major technology companies all have significant play. Arguably this is the future of almost all commerce.”
It is quite possible that there will be a significant market for business-specific virtual assistants, but this is dwarfed by the opportunity to be everyone’s assistant for everything.
Image: Fernand De Canne