What is an AI Virtual Assistant?

AI virtual assistants are the future of the workplace - what are they, what can it do for you, and how is it going to affect your life both in the office and out?

The race for the smartest, fastest and most valuable AI-driven virtual assistant has been on for a few years as major companies have raced to engage and gain users. The competition drives faster progress, which is potentially great for consumers – but does the experience live up to the expectation?

You've used an AI assistant before - think Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Samsung’s Bixby - but probably, you've never asked it anything beyond tomorrow's weather forecast. Well, it's 2018 folks, and virtual assistants are just a little bit smarter than that. Advances in AI fields such as natural language understanding (NLU) and machine learning have enabled virtual assistants to adapt to, respond to, and learn from their environments. And while it won't be able to fill bowls with colorful candies on the front desk (yet), likely many executives will be willing to deprive their sweet tooth in favor of increasing efficiency, improving communication, and cutting costs in the workplace.

How do we use AI virtual assistants?

We have smart speakers in our cars, our homes, in some stores, and of course – in our smartphones. That’s great when you are the only one interacting with the virtual assistant to get tasks done or get instant information, but what about the times when you need your assistant while you're communicating with another person?
Take the following scenario as an example.
John is driving to a lunch meeting and is speaking to his co-worker Alex on the phone.

Alex: Hey John, I wanted to check in with you before your meeting this afternoon. Did the Jones order get processed and fulfilled, or is there still an issue with the manufacturer?
John: Hey Alex, I'm not sure about that - I'll have to check on that and get back to you once I'm out of the car.
Alex: Okay let me know please, Jones has been calling me and I'd like to get this done as soon as possible.
John: Sure, I understand. I'll try and remember to give him a call later this afternoon.
Alex: Okay. Is there any update from the accountant regarding the closing of the Smith account?
John: I was expecting an email from him today, I'll look through my inbox before lunch and will let you know.
Alex: Okay John, talk to you soon.

Now - take this scenario, and add in a virtual assistant:

Alex: Hey John, I wanted to check in with you before your meeting this afternoon. Did the Jones order get processed and fulfilled, or is there still an issue with the manufacturer?
John: Hey Alex, I'm not sure about that - let me check. Hey Omega, what is the order status on the Jones order?
Omega: The Jones order is on hold, the manufacturer appears to have delayed the order.
John: Thanks Omega, please remind me after lunch to give Ben Hanson from the factory a call regarding the order delay.
Alex: Great, let's take care of that as soon as possible. Is there any update from the accountant about the closing of the Bast account?
John: Omega, have I received any new emails from Kyle Smith?
Omega: There are no unread messages from Kyle Smith in your inbox. Would you like to hear the last message you received from him?
John: No, that's okay. Please send him an email with the following message: Hi Kyle, just wanted to check in with you and see if there's anything new with the Bast account. Please let me know.
Omega: Message recorded, sending now.
Alex: Omega, when Kyle Smith replies, please forward me the email as well.
Omega: Sure Alex.
Alex: Great, good luck with your meeting John.
John: Talk to you soon!

Doesn't that sound better? By adding a virtual assistant onto the line, both parties are able to get the answers and information they need quickly, while controlling their schedule and communications as effectively as if they were both staring at their phone screens. Whereas in the first scenario, John is too distracted to be able to answer any of his co-workers pressing questions, in the second, he is able to both answer them and execute follow-up actions with ease.

An AI-driven virtual assistant like Omega can improve a multitude of workplace and everyday scenarios, in everything from setting meetings in the middle of conference calls to checking inventories while driving your kids to school.

"Omega, please set a meeting with Bill for 3 o'clock on Thursday afternoon"
"Omega, please check how many red t-shirts are in stock in the east warehouse"
"Omega, please give me directions to the nearest gas station, and call Emily Baker"

With no interruption to your conversation, no distractions, no stress, you can multi-task and operate business functions – all on your phone line.

This type of situation, along with many others, can be made into your reality using Over.ai’s “On the Line” feature. Thanks to Over.ai’s advanced telephony integrations, our personal assistant can be triggered using a keyword and wait for your command during a phone call, 24/7/365.

Raising efficiency in the workplace

So how else is an Voice AI virtual assistant going to optimize your workday?
Unlike a human, your Voice AI agent is available 24/7/365. It never needs a coffee break, never takes a sick day, and certainly isn't hopping to Hawaii for two weeks. No, your virtual assistant is the perfect employee. It will never be rude to you or a client, and you can always rely on it to be professional and consistent. Your assistant will learn about your business and gain knowledge rapidly, accurately answering many of the day to day questions and concerns that employees and customers may have. When new employees are on-boarded, instead of having your HR representative go through the repetitive process with them, your AI assistant will be able to help them work through the kinks of a new office and environment. The uses of assistants like Omega are already vast and ever growing - and will soon put outdated systems to shame.

Learning skill sets

Everyone is different, every office is different, and every virtual assistant is different, too. That's why with Over.ai's virtual agent, Omega, you can visit Over.ai’s Skill Store and train her to do, well, a whole lot of things. Think of a big app market, but instead of apps, you can find new skills to add to your personal assistant with a click of a button.

Want to order pizza?

Let your assistant take care of that.

Need somebody to read you the last email from your boss?

Leave it to your virtual assistant.

Arguing with a friend about which country scored more goals in the World Cup?

Your VA's got the answer.

The possibilities are truly endless, and with hundreds of skills waiting in the Skill Store, your personal assistant will get really smart, really fast.

As a developer, you can design, deploy and distribute a skill in a matter of minutes.

So what are you waiting for? Speak with us and learn more about our in-meeting, on-the-line, AI-based personal assistant and how we can help you and your business integrate into the age of AI.