The Evolution of Intelligent Virtual Assistants

November 1, 2013 Marijah Adams Cleek

Scottish Stained GlassIntelligent Virtual Assistants are quickly moving from a luxury commodity to a must-have for every business providing web-based services.

According to Gartner, “[Virtual Assistants] do not take a leave of absence, and never get sick or demand a pay raise.”1 These points speak volumes to companies trying to thrive in marketplaces where customers have 24/7 access to a plethora of options, all at the click of a button. Having an assistant available to answer consumer questions at 3:00 AM could be the difference between acquiring consumers and being passed over. The economy of the 21st century is a big, honking question mark most of the time; companies can’t afford to lose business at any point, and virtual assistants help seal the deal while telephone operators are dreaming. These assistants didn’t just pop up overnight, though. They’ve been in action for nearly two decades while companies continually try to upgrade and produce the best possible experience. But only one company can reign as king of the hill, and that company is CodeBaby.

The Evolution of Virtual Assistants

In the beginning, there were first-generation virtual assistants (VA). Arriving in 1995, these VAs were static, low-quality graphic images that functioned off a knowledge base. They were frequently terrible at providing quality customer service or turning out any decent search results2. Obviously not incredibly helpful, designers moved onto creating the second-generation VAs, which included limited movement, text, and speech. Though the graphics weren’t a major step-up, this generation was able to kickback significantly better search results than the first-generation. And then there was the third generation; these VAs provided minimal tone replies, response accuracy measurements, and analytics.

Research from Gartner suggests that the majority of merchants using VAs operate within the first-generation to third-generation range3. But as with all things technological, these characters continue to grow and evolve. Fourth-generation VAs offer considerably better graphics and a highly precise knowledge bases. Fifth-generation VAs deliver 3D characters with human movements. They come equipped with the ability to respond to tone. And then there was the dawn of a new day, giving rise to the sixth-generation. Building upon 3D characters with human movements, these newest generation VAs are also able to go mobile and provide geo-location, such as CodeBaby Interactive Virtual Assistants (CIVA).

The road to 6th generation virtual assistants

Enrich the Customer Experience

In 2010, Johan Jacobs, an analyst at Gartner, projected that VAs would be the standard technology used to provide a competitive edge for customer interactions over the following three to five years4. Now, three years later, it’s clear that he was spot-on. Gartner determined that in order for a VA to be considered “great,” they should “enrich the quality of the customer experience and assist the customer throughout the online interaction5.” They also determined that investments in 2013 are likely to continue focusing on loyalty-driving technologies that increase satisfaction and revenue growth, regardless of the ambiguous global economic environment. Markets are likely to continue shifting towards the adoption of software as a service, and CRM revenue for the software market is predicted to perform 1.5% over the AGR during the next half decade6.

CodeBaby: A Step Above the Rest

Employing a virtual assistant can do wonders for a business, including: reducing costs, increasing revenues, improving marketing, enhancing customer satisfaction, and boosting business intelligence7.  It‘s for these very reasons that Gartner selected CodeBaby as a notable vendor8. CodeBaby is one of the few providers of VAs with fifth and sixth-generation capabilities. CIVAs are 3D characters incorporating human movements with socially expressive features that use conversational scripts and/or a natural language database. Another sharp feature is the installment of a star-rating system for customers to rate the accuracy of the answer provided by the VA. And CIVAs are fully capable of integrating with website elements, can go mobile, and provide dashboard analytics to help companies accurately track their customer/VA interactions. They are complete with a plethora of visual features, as well, like motion capture capabilities, age and skin-tone options, and apparel selection. And CodeBaby continues to evolve, always looking for the next step in improving online customer interactions and web-solutions, a must according to Gartner9.

The difference between us and them

If you’re interested in learning more about the Gartner findings, click here to get a copy of “The Gartner CRM Vendor Guide, 2013.” You can also click here to check out CodeBaby’s company overview.

1 Jacobs, Johan. 2010. Gartner. “Key Considerations for Virtual Assistant Selection.”

2 Jacobs. “Key Considerations for Virtual Assistant Selection.”

4 Jacobs. “Key Considerations for Virtual Assistant Selection.”

5 Davies, Jim et al. 2012. Gartner. “The Gartner CRM Vendor Guide, 2013.”

6 Davies. “The Gartner CRM Vendor Guide, 2013.”

7 Feldman, Ross M. 2011. Hewlett-Packard. “Personalize Your Automated Customer Interactions.”

8 Davies. “The Gartner CRM Vendor Guide, 2013.”

9 Davies. “The Gartner CRM Vendor Guide, 2013.”

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