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Voice set to project into workplace, predicts Gartner report

AI-powered voice recognition is set to become part of the office environment within two years, according to Gartner

Over the next two years, IT departments should get ready for speech recognition to become mainstream in the workplace.

Gartner’s 2018 Hype cycle for the digital workplace report has placed speech recognition at its plateau of productivity level within the next two years, indicating that the analyst believes it will be ready for wide-scale adoption.

“The effects of speech recognition can be seen on a daily basis. Consumers and workers increasingly interact with applications without touching a keyboard,” said Matthew Cain, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Speech-to-text applications have proliferated due to the adoption of chatbots and virtual personal assistants [VPAs] by businesses, and consumer adoption of devices with speech interactions including smartphones, gaming consoles and VPA speakers.”

Chatbots and virtual assistants (VAs) represent a value-added implementation of speech recognition. Chatbots and VAs use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to assist people or automate tasks. They listen to and observe behaviours, build and maintain data models, and predict and recommend actions.

In Gartner’s forecast, chatbots are two to five years away. While less than 4% of organisations have already deployed conversational interfaces (including chatbots), 38% of organisations are planning to implement or are actively experimenting with the technology, according to Gartner’s 2018 CIO survey.

From an IT perspective, Gartner recommended that businesses start to look at how they can integrate chatbots in app development.

Van Baker, research vice-president at Gartner, said: “App development leaders need to anticipate [chatbot] proliferation as more people and businesses move to conversational user interfaces.

“Businesses that haven’t begun deploying AI to interact with customers and employees should start now, because customers and employees are increasingly expecting conversational interfaces to be available to address help desk and customer service issues.”

Gartner predicted that chatbots are likely to be deployed as application interfaces. Rather than the user having to learn the application’s interface, the chatbot can instead learn what the user wants. This will greatly stimulate onboarding, training, productivity and efficiency inside the workplace, according to Gartner.

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