Voice assistants provide answers from the Web, digital colleagues resolve issues

Voice-based assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, or The Google Assistant are some of the hottest trends in consumer technology. A recent Pew Research study found that 46% of adults use these virtual assistants as part of their daily routines, and this number is certain to rise.  While these name-brand products are very good at broad consumer applications like returning Web queries, sending texts and setting reminders, industry-leading digital colleagues like Amelia are redefining business processes at a fundamental level. Here are three advantages a cognitive agent like Amelia has over a consumer-grade voice assistant.

Amelia is designed for prolonged, complex interactions

In a recent post, we detailed the difference between a cognitive-powered digital colleague and a chatbot. Specifically, we highlighted a digital colleague’s ability to handle “context switching,” a feature that allows users to deviate from the flow of an interaction without affecting the rest of the process. For example, if a customer in a restaurant provides their order to a waiter, and they decide at the very end to make a change (e.g., “Actually, I’ll have a Coke instead of root beer.”), the waiter can simply make that one substitution without having to begin the whole order over again. The ability to jump around in a prolonged process is a struggle for many general-use chatbots and voice assistants, but something that a digital colleague like Amelia can handle with ease.

A voice assistant can drive you to your financial, insurance, or healthcare provider’s virtual door, but she doesn’t have the keys to get inside.

This ability to navigate users through a potentially lengthy procedure is vital to automating complex processes like applying for pre-approval on a mortgage. This is a task involving numerous steps and questions, and users need to have the ability to change/skip/amend previous answers without having to begin the whole process over again (e.g., “I just got a new mobile number and need to update my application.”).

Voice assistants can be very useful for answering one-and-done questions such as “How long will it take to drive to Pittsburgh?” but it takes a digital colleague like Amelia to lead users through complex, multi-step processes and transactions.

Amelia offers deep integration

Users can ask Siri to execute simple tasks such as transcribing and sending an email, but she can’t sign customers up for auto insurance. Amelia’s back-end integrations into enterprise systems empower users to independently complete complicated end-to-end business tasks, such as helping a bank customer schedule a recurring transaction, or to securely acquire personal data, such as account balance information. A voice assistant can drive you to your financial, insurance, or healthcare provider’s virtual door, but she doesn’t have the keys to get inside.

Amelia has specific industry knowledge

As Amelia is developed for specific use cases, she comes with knowledge about specific industries, roles, or businesses that a voice assistant could never match. When paired with her aforementioned backend integrations, Amelia can readily answer a user request such as “Am I covered if my vehicle slips on black ice?” or return verified information when a medical patient asks “How long before my procedure do I have to stop eating?” A voice assistant would perform little more than a Web search query with potentially low-quality results.

While general-use voice assistance will surely continue to grow in popularity and ability, they will never match the utility of an integrated and industry-ready digital colleague such as Amelia. When it comes to generating business value, only a digital colleague can automate complex processes requiring deep integration and business-specific knowledge.

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