How the next-gen online assistant will shape our work and everyday life

By Saideep Gupta July 9, 2020

By Saideep Gupta, CTO at WingAI

There is a problem. We are too busy. At work, in the house, while driving, whether it’s meetings, lunches, classes, driving back during rush hour, even calling your bank to dispute a charge, we are all just too busy. We would rather be doing things that matter the most to us with the ones who matter the most to us. Could we strike a better balance with some assistance? Maybe someone or something to help do all those mundane tasks in your life?

A personal assistant could cost upwards of $30k a year, which unfortunately most of us can’t afford.  However, as citizens of the digital society, maybe a personal assistant on your phone or on a smart speaker could do the trick? What if there was an online personal assistant that could actually be the help you need, the tool to strike that balance, and at a fraction of the cost? 

 Maybe you’re thinking Alexa? Siri? Or Google Home? But they don’t fare too well do they? Can they tell you a joke? Sure. But can they walk your dog? Or get your bathtub fixed? Or do any of the million other things that you could rely on a personal assistant to do? Probably not.

Instead, think about the next generation of online assistants, a hyper-active and intelligent system, powered by the most cutting edge AI technology, ready to cater to your every need, ready to help you take control of your time. Many established companies and upcoming Silicon Valley startups are promising to offer their customers such a service in the near future.

A day with these online assistants could be very lucrative and productive. Your assistant would wake you up in the morning with the highlights of your day – your important meetings, the emails you need to reply to, the people you need to call back, and major news. While you get ready for work, your assistant places an order for your favorite morning coffee at the local coffee shop. As you cruise down to your office, your assistant briefs you and gets you ready for that upcoming event, making sure to also remind you that you have to pick up the kids from the school, while also adding a gas stop on the way as it knows you are running low. The assistant has also already made dinner reservations for tonight for your anniversary, asked to reserve a bottle of that wine you love, blocked your calendar for the evening, and made sure that the dry cleaning is picked up and delivered to the house before evening. 

At work the assistant takes care of mundane tasks while making sure your lunch arrives on time. As you are about to leave work, your assistant makes sure the anniversary flowers are delivered to take home and surprise your significant other. As you are getting ready to head out in the evening, your assistant makes sure the babysitter arrives well in advance.While you enjoy dinner, your assistant orders your groceries, confirms the plumber’s appointment for the next day, books the dog’s vet visit next week, and emails you the report for your meeting with your boss. 

This is not science fiction. It’s real. And it’s here, closer than you would expect. Tech giants like Google and Amazon have invested billions to ramp up their voice technologies and to bring the assistant of the future into the palms of millions of customers, who are now able to enjoy the comfort of having a human-like assistant, available 24/7. A quick Google or YouTube search yields millions of results on how the target demographic (primarily Millennials, accounting for about 60% of all smart speaker users), has adapted to these devices and allowed them to become a part of their lives. 

It was reported earlier this year that Alexa users spend a total of over $2 billion every year on Alexa skills.  The Alexas and Siris of the world have progressed at lightning speeds, breaking down the barriers of what is possible and enriching the lives of their users. Silicon Valley-based venture backed upcoming startups are lending their technology to the pool as well. More than 200 million smart speaker devices have been sold to date, and the voice assistant industry as a whole is projected to have a 40% year-over-year growth rate. The potential for next generation devices to more effectively assist users is huge and a closer reality than we may realize.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company