In an increasingly crowded space of Artificial Intelligence (AI), there is yet another category rearing its head. While you may heard of Siri, Cortana, Facebook’s assistant M,; virtual scheduling assistants Julie, Evie and Amy Ingram have entered the fray too. How are these two categories essentially different? Is Siri, Cortana as intelligent as new-age Julie or Amy Ingram? The former is dubbed as being horizontal AIs, good for conversational tasks and don’t just concentrate on one job only, which is scheduling meetings.
According to Dennis Mortensen, CEO & Founder of x.ai who gave a peek into the makings of an intelligent assistant at a Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco, “An intelligent agent is something I used to have to do yesterday and I don’t have to do tomorrow. Hence, the employees of tomorrow will have their productivity measured on their ability to bring in technology rather than using it”.
Mortensen, the maker of Amy Ingram, AI-driven personal assistant that is built to help schedule meetings underlined a major difference between Apple’s voice based assistant Siri and scheduling bots is that they are more vertical-focused.
Need for scheduling bots
There are already a host of scheduling software in the market such as Appointy, Acuity, TimeCamp and even one from Salesforce. Since AI’s potential goes beyond simply taking menial tasks out of hands to lending competitive edge, scheduling assistants are the new normal. Scheduling assistants are in line with the AI wave that has ushered in an era of offloading repetitive, mundane tasks to machines at a fraction of cost. They also take into key factors such as timezone gaps, location availability and cut down on administrative hours.
A PwC survey points out that as move into the AI era, artificial intelligence will be increasingly leveraged for competitive and business advantage and has the potential to surpass big data and mobile. The findings reveal that while AI shall not phase out jobs completely, it will herald the era of Humans 2.0, assisted by AI and will enable humans to lead more fulfilling lives. Insights from the survey point out to the rise of cyborg concierge, used by 72% business executives. It is a must have tool for the C-suite with 67% senior executives seeing a real potential in it to automate and optimize business processes and 34% have already put it to work.
Popular scheduling assistants in the market
Besides taking the pain out of organizing meetings, AI personal assistants are essentially enterprise grade solutions that are a) speeding up sales b) reduce administrative burden by speeding up tasks efficiently c) cutting down costs on human resources d) improve organization productivity significantly.
In fact, Amy is not the only one. Clara from Clara Labs is like a virtual employee that has already earned rave reviews from users across the globe with 97.3% accuracy. From back and forth scheduling to managing meetings effortlessly, Clara does it all. Starting at $99 per month/per user, Clara Professional comes at 199 /month/user. The advantage of Clara is that it is powered by human and machine intelligence with a backend staff for verification but it comes at a steep price tag as compared to Amy that starts at $39/month.
There is also Caramel that is designed exclusively for recruiters to schedule candidate interviews and comes with customized templates. Another popular AI scheduling assistant is Evie from Singapore-based Mimetic, and leverages natural language processing to power smooth email interactions.
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Virtual assistant showdown
Siri paved the way for conversational searches but the interface can only perform limited functions. Besides limiting choices, it also offers basic functionality such as hailing a cab or playing a song. Scheduling assistants on the other hand are seen as a means “virtual workhorses” that can free up time which can be used for other productive work. And when it comes to specific sophisticated tasks, scheduling assistants execute with more accuracy.
Why the tech world is betting big on bots?
Microsoft’s Satya Nadella is betting big on bots, claiming the technology will be the next big thing surpassing apps, just the same way apps took over desktop search. However, there is also a rise of app fatigue with research showing that apps downloads have gone down significantly. And that’s why tech giants such as Facebook, Microsoft are bullish on bots to make a connect with the smartphone user. One of the major announcements to come from the recent F8 — Facebook Developer conference was bots becoming a bigger part of the Messenger gaming experience. And Virtual Assistant M, will now be open to businesses through an API that would allow them to make bots that can answer basic FAQs via a FB page.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.