Posted: 16 Jul. 2020 03 min. read

Five ways a virtual assistant can help you innovate

Virtual assistants are a popular technology used to direct people to the right information and perform tasks without engaging a human support function. Their potential benefits, including time-savings, intelligent learning capabilities and authentic conversational experience for customers and employees, can lead to better problem solving and innovation outcomes within companies.

In their most advanced form, virtual assistants are an evolutionary leap from simple chatbots. A number of features enable them to provide support to customers and employees in a smart, adaptable and efficient way:

  1. Neural Networks: Virtual assistants are built off technologies which enable them to learn and mature with increased use. Less likely to follow pre-determined responses which require human involvement, they can be significantly more adaptable.
  2. Conversational Understanding: Virtual assistants can have enhanced abilities to understand the likely meaning of phrases, in contrast to only understanding sets of keywords or pre-programmed sentences. Through the power of Conversational AI, the virtual assistant is able to generate its own answers which can then stimulate new conversations, rather than relying solely on a learned set of responses.
  3. Understanding Language Differences: Where simple bots are trained to understand keywords from a set of inputs or conduct basic Natural Language Processing (NLP), virtual assistants use advanced NLP in order to understand real conversations, including the use of slang and other terms that feature in everyday conversation.
  4. Increased agency: The primary role of virtual assistants is to carry out tasks and make decisions, as opposed to simply answer questions. As they process more information and are required to perform a greater range of tasks, they can mature and learn to complete tasks better, making them increasingly valuable.


How do these features fuel innovation?

Through these features, virtual assistants can enable innovation by freeing employees to be redirected to more valuable work, often across a broader set of responsibilities.

  1. Elimination of repetitive, monotonous tasks: With fewer monotonous tasks to be done, employees are better able to use their time to add value in other areas. They can be prompted to use the more empathetic and other human skills that virtual assistants are unable to mirror. The complex nature of problems facing today’s businesses means that having more time to devote to understanding the intricacies of a problem and the people it impacts can lead to innovation which better responds to the needs of customers.
  2. Increase in work satisfaction: Meaningful and non-mundane activities have been found to directly correlate with employee engagement, organisational commitment and lower rates of employee turnover[1]. These are all excellent enablers of innovation as employees that are more engaged with the issues their customers experience are better able to empathise and understand the root causes of those issues and, as a result, implement more effective solutions.
  3. Customer experience: With today’s abundance of digital content, customers can be overwhelmed with the wealth of available information. Virtual assistants can provide targeted answers without obligation, delivering a more tailored customer experience. Companies can better understand the needs of their customers by learning what information is of best use to them and deliver new and more effective solutions.
  4. Monitoring input and content: Conversational interfaces such as virtual assistants open a direct and unfiltered communication channel which can allow companies to learn what is on the minds of their customers and employees. The ability to monitor the questions asked, and answers delivered, can give companies a better understanding of their customers’ priorities and needs.  The analysis, processing and categorising of this information can provide valuable data that mobilises the innovation process and enable the delivery of new and innovative solutions.
  5. More mobilised workforce: By implementing virtual assistants that can reduce taxing tasks from employees and improve work satisfaction, employees have more time and energy to think holistically and collaborate with others. This extra time gained and allocated to collaboration allows the innovation ideation process to be richer, resulting in greater quality outcomes.


Where can people find help implementing virtual assistants?

Implementing virtual assistants can lead to better problem solving and innovation outcomes for organisations. This value is gained through the elimination of repetitive tasks, collection of rich data, and through improving work satisfaction, customer experience, and the mobilisation of the workforce. If you would like to find out more or get in touch with our experts, visit our Virtual Office hub or Virtual Customer Experiences.  

[1] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1523422311431679?journalCode=adha

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Meet our authors

Simon Stefanoff

Simon Stefanoff

Director, Deloitte Digital

Simon is a Director at Deloitte Digital. He has over 18 years' experience building and delivering innovative, customer-focused digital solutions for organisations across Australia, the UK, and Europe. Starting his career as a software engineer in the early days of the web, Simon has helped financial services, retail, media, telecommunications, and public sector clients establish their online presence and service their customers through web, mobile, and in-store channels. Conversational interfaces such as voice, chat, and messaging are a particular passion area for Simon, and as the lead for voice and conversational AI for Deloitte Digital Australia, he is pioneering the understanding and use of conversational technologies in building the customer experiences of the future.

Michaela Curry

Michaela Curry

Graduate

Michaela specializes in innovation capability development and spreading the innovation message across Deloitte. She leads the firm’s internal innovation podcast series, Candid Conversations, showcasing leading innovators speaking candidly about what innovation looks like in their industry.