5 Reasons Digital Assistants will be Ubiquitous by 2020


The AI hype cycle is raging all around us and if your news feeds are anything like mine you’ll be seeing regular updates on the many ways AI is disrupting classic business models.

For the most part the advances in AI and machine learning are helping process “big data” to offer insights into mass behaviour or market trends.  At the consumer layer we are only just starting to see where AI will visibly affect our day to day lives. Over recent years, with the advent of ‘Siri’, ‘Google Assistant’ and the blinding success of Amazon’s ‘Alexa’, natural language assistants have really started to show us the path to the future of where AI really meets the customer.

Use cases have been relatively simple to date but the tide is turning and over the next couple of years we expect to see a tidal wave of ever more compelling digital assistants helping us complete a wide range of tasks.  It is projected that 25% of customer service operations will use virtual customer assistants by 2020 (Gartner) and by 2025, an estimated 95% of customer interactions will be supported by AI technology ” (Forbes). Brands are realising this is a powerful weapon in gaining market share as an assistant improves Net Promoter Scores by 25% (Cap Gemini)

Assistants are gaining market share faster than the internet or smartphones at the time of their launch (see graph below):


Here are what I believe to be the 5 principal drivers of this growth:

1 – Zero barrier to entry

“The best interface is no interface” – Golden Krishna

When you visit a website or an app for the first time you have to work out how do get to your desired outcome. There are 8.3 Trillion SMS messages sent per year and a lot more spoken words.  People know how to use natural language already so this interface takes friction out of any first engagement, delighting the user and making them more likely to come back.

2 – Instant response  Consumers expectations of a brand are that of ‘always on’ service provision.  46% of consumers would prefer to use messaging to contact a business over email. The primary driver for preference of assistants is the immediacy of response.

3 – Market forces  Companies that do not start offering assistants to interface with their product or service will lose market share.  There is a huge imperative to start on the journey to create an assistant and those that do the job well will be able to draw their competitors customers across by offering a better service, a recent report by Cap Gemini states that an assistant improves Net Promoter Scores by 25%

4 – The big 4 The largest tech companies on the planet are driving you towards their assistants and are spending billions of $$ trying to move you to assistant first access of internet provisioned products and services (see the excellent slide below from activate):

5 – The mobile precedence We’ve seen this before, recently.  We are surrounded by a lot of highly skilled technology professionals who saw the rise of the smartphone and the amazing opportunities that delivered for new business models and customer experiences.  The people who made the most of those opportunities have not retired, by a long way, they are in the prime of their career, have the vision to take advantage and will push harder and faster than before.

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