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One V.A’s thoughts on the growth of AI assistants and if they are worth it.
With where we are in our current world of technology, I’m sure you’ve heard of Siri. If you have then I bet you’ve also heard of Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Homepod. I know of all these systems too. What I didn’t know is that these systems are called virtual assistants. If you’re looking at it from an unbiased standpoint then it makes sense. A virtual device that assists you whenever you need it to by the sound of your voice. But, when I view it from a biased, comical perspective I came to a different realization. These little guys are trying to come for my job. Today, we will be diving into the differences between AI virtual assistants, and human V.A.’s. (And why humans reign supreme).
Before we start… Let’s get some definitions out of the way. The definition of a virtual assistant is as follows: ‘A person, as a freelance office assistant, who works remotely in an administrative role.’ (1) Or, ‘A device or piece of software that can perform basic tasks and answer some questions in response to spoken natural language, often following a command or prompt.’ (2) With these definitions in mind, we can move forward into the differences between the two types of VAs.
Resistance to Technology People inherently resist new technology that seems too out of reach. At this point, a new phone being released is no surprise to most people but, the start of AI virtual assistants is a big change for a lot of people. For example, Baby Boomers will have a tendency to resist these changes more than Millenials and Gen Z’ers. Alternatively, there isn’t resistance to people in the workplace. There may be suspicion of the new hire in the office until we get to know them. But there isn’t as large of pushback because interacting with a new person isn’t new to us.
You Can’t Fire a Device Having to let someone go or getting let go from your job is never enjoyable for either party. Unfortunately, it is at times a necessary part of our lives that we have to deal with. Even if these conversations are tough, there can be some relief. If you are letting go of someone particularly painful, you don’t have to be around them any longer. This isn’t the case with AI virtual assistants. This is the employee, you can never be rid of. Sure, you could toss it out but then you’ve wasted money and added to the already large amount of waste created each year. Additionally, what lessons does AI learn from you ‘firing’ it? At least with people, you have the chance to teach them something by letting them go. Their time with you will be an experience they can reflect on. Although it doesn’t benefit you, your time with them wasn’t completely wasted. Whereas if it doesn’t work out with AI, you’ve lost on time, money, and no one walks away with any lessons learned.
Employment Differences To be fair, AI can have its benefits. Alexa and Google Home don’t need to take holidays or sick days. They won’t ask you for a paycheck every week, and you never have to worry about employee burnout. Rather, technical problems will be your concern if something goes wrong with the device. The scope of employment is also different with AI. AI requires more micromanaging and can’t complete tasks on their own. Human VAs can do many tasks at once and often look for ways to help improve their productivity.
Constructive Criticism We all have moments in our careers when we are challenged to improve. This can come from a mistake or a yearly review with your employer. Constructive feedback can be difficult at times, but it motivates you to improve. This is an area where AI technology fails. The devices can get to know you better but if you come across something that the device is doing that you hate, you can get stuck. This employee won’t be able to take your feedback nor try to do better next time.
You’ll Never Work Alone Again If you end up having an AI virtual assistant, your employee will always be with you. In the office, it will always be there with you, waiting to help, and listening to everything you say. If you work from home, then you will never work, or be, alone again. The technology will assist you and be able to listen to everything you say on or off the clock. Using AI for work can also make a home tool be a reminder of your work life when you are trying to disconnect and relax.
Customer Service There is nothing more frustrating than having an issue and calling customer service. Customers complain that automatic systems misunderstand them and can’t help. You want to talk to a person. See any similarities? AI virtual assistants are the same. Although there are benefits to the use of AI technology, sometimes you just want a person. There is someone you can communicate with who will give you a thoughtful, creative answer and can help you to resolve your problems.
AI technology is slowly integrating itself into every aspect of our lives. It will eventually crowd our workplaces too but there is still a special touch that having a flexible, human V.A. can provide you that tech can’t. AI in the home to make our lives easier sounds convenient and fun but AI in the workplace? This V.A. will pass.
Footnote Links: (1) https://www.dictionary.com/browse/virtual-assistant Footnote Links: (2) https://www.dictionary.com/browse/virtual-assistant Like the article? Follow for more! Interested in becoming a VA or hiring a VA? Reach out to us at www.myvirtustaff.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Written by: Jordan Basham