Digital Virtual Assistants



1. Boosting Siri's Abilities With A Human Virtual Assistant


Apple's Siri turns an iPhone into a personal assistant that can help business professionals remember appointments, manage goals and a to-do list, make reservations and travel arrangements and find the perfect place to eat lunch with an out-of-town client. With the virtual omnipresence of iPhones and other mobile devices, an increasing number of businesspeople rely on this automated system to manage both company and personal matters. While Siri's benefits are many, they fall short of the type of service a human virtual assistant can provide.


Task and Time Organisation


With a few words, Siri will schedule and remind people of meetings, business lunches, and other deadlines. To-do lists, goal sheets, and other organizational and motivational apps work in concert to provide a clear picture of what has to be done every day. As long as the phone is turned on, Siri informs the owner of every step.


While this takes the problems of poor memory and disorganization away from having a successful day, a human virtual assistant can offer more customization in regard to things that Siri may not know. For one thing, Apple's iPhone helper only knows what the person using it tells it or what can be found online. It will not understand that information gathered at a 2PM meeting may change the need for a 5PM business dinner. An actual person hired to help keep track of appointments can make abstract decisions about the best schedule.


Contacts and Conversations


Other than face-to-face conversations in the office, the bulk of professional contact is done on mobile phones or over other mobile devices through text. Siri's capabilities include address books, contact lists, voice-activated phone calls, texts, and emails among other things. While this assistance helps take care of all the interactive tasks necessary to run a business and a social life, it doesn't save the time or energy required to actually do the calling.


Human virtual assistants do more than keep contacts organized and remember conversations. They can actually make the calls, send the texts and emails for the company. Hiring one frees up a lot of time and ensures prompt and professional contact whether an answer is needed, an appointment needs verification or a reminder should be given.


Design, Creation and Upkeep


Apple's Siri can assist with so many aspects of a business's day-to-day and long term functions. This type of digital virtual assistant offers an unfailing memory, excellent organization skills and answers to almost any question in seconds. Although human virtual assistants cover these tasks too, they also offer so much more.


Each has a particular set of skills to offer, for instance, VAs who specialize in design provide eye-catching graphics, professional websites, social media headers, ebook covers and business cards, or VAs who write bespoke content fill sites, blogs, social media pages and newsletters with search engine optimized and attention-grabbing content. Many virtual assistants also handle marketing, updates and upkeep of the websites and social pages that represent any given company. A virtual assistant like Siri simply cannot offer creative benefits like these.



2. How Microsoft's Cortana Meets Some Virtual Assistant Needs


With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft entered the digital virtual assistance field with Cortana, the helper that turns a PC desktop into a voice-activated knowledge and organization tool. Many of the daily business and personal tasks needed to stay on track can now be handled by typing out a few questions or statements or using a microphone to speak directly to the computer. Although Cortana is convenient, it lacks many of the features that lead business people to hire a human virtual assistant to work for them.


What Can Cortana Do For a Professional Business Person?


When someone speaks into the microphone while using the Cortana application, they can access any file on the computer quickly and find out things like the weather forecast, tracking information for shipments, what the next item is on their to-do list, if there's traffic on route to the office and a particular contact's email address and phone number.


These organization helpers remove the time-consuming little tasks that occur throughout the day and get in the way of forward momentum. Cortana makes it easy to get information about some things while you're occupied with something else.


What Tasks Require Human Virtual Assistant Help?


Microsoft's Cortana virtual assistant has limited help possibilities that only function while it's turned on in the Windows computer. It also requires being trained over time in not just recognizing voice commands, but also based on most common uses and practices. Cortana cannot create, market, contact or organize on its own.


Hiring a live virtual assistant allows a company owner to cross some tasks off their calendar completely. If the VA has the appropriate skills for the job, they can handle things the owner doesn't have any idea how to accomplish. For instance, some do design work and will build a custom website, social media page graphics, professional logos, ebook covers and letterheads. Others are excellent writers and can tackle website content, blog posts, newsletter texts and marketing materials to increase conversions and sales.


Even if the virtual assistant just handles things such as booking travel plans, organizing information, or handling customer emails, the company owner or employees no longer have to take time away from other jobs to do this.


Combining the convenience of a computer-based application like Cortana with the personal expertise of a human virtual assistant makes sense for companies that have limited time and funds to hire new employees, but a burning desire to grow and increase profits. Instead of handling a calendar, emails, and being informed about weather and traffic patterns - all helpful tasks in their own right - a company also needs the type of assistance that only a human can provide.


While Microsoft's new Cortana virtual assistant provides some user-friendly organization on Windows machines, it falls short of tackling all necessary tasks a business person must keep in mind every single day. In order to successfully grow, market, and profit from any type of company, the skills a human virtual assistant provides do more to reach those end goals than any application within today's technology.



3. The Teneo Platform: Taking Digital Virtual Assistance To The Next Level


The digital virtual assistants on the market today function well when asked simple one-part questions. What is the weather like today? What time is my appointment with Joe Smith? As capabilities increase though, people want to interact in a more natural way with these devices. The Teneo platform transforms digital-human communication from a series of simple questions and responses to a more complex integration of meaning and function.


Teneo is not a virtual assistant in itself. Instead, it's a functional, natural language platform that allows people to create helpers on websites, blogs, through email and phone apps that specifically work for their business needs. Not only can developers get a high-powered verbal processing tool, but they can do so in record time.


What makes Teneo more powerful than other digital voice-recognition assistants?


Digital virtual assistant apps created with Teneo have increased functionality, more in-depth recognition and understanding and function continuously across separate devices.


Teneo understands more and can handle more natural language usage than other VA platforms. Instead of asking, "What terminal does Flight 28 leave from?" and then have to ask additional questions about delays, rental cars, etc. users of digital assistants created with Teneo's amazing natural language protocol can ask, "What terminal does my flight leave from, is there a rental car place nearby, about how much will it cost and will I have time to drive to my sister's house before dinner?" and be understood.


If the enquiry starts at the home desktop computer, it can be picked up on a smartphone or tablet once the user is on his way to the airport as well. Teneo was the first system that seamlessly synced conversations from one device to the next.


Not only will the user be understood, but Teneo's system will access all known information about every aspect of the question and combine these at lightning speeds to give the best and most complete answer. It can identify when the sister's dinner is on the user's schedule, calculate drive time from the airport to her home, identify the most convenient or affordable car rentals and make sure the user catches his flight as well.


If the user has two sisters and there are multiple possible routes from the airport to each one's house, the app asks questions of its own in order to determine precisely what's wanted. It can also make logical determinations from past experiences, usage, and information to determine the most likely meaning of a question.


While this is very useful for personal purposes, the utility when it comes to business applications is astounding as well. Imagine the ability for customers to actually have a purposeful conversation with a digital virtual assistant who can help market and sell, field questions, handle concerns and build a greater rapport between the company and the consumer. And it can do all of this in 35 languages, with more to be added. Teneo goes far beyond, "If you have a question about your order, please press 2."


Teneo's digital helper applications created by company programmers on the quick and intuitive platform are second in function only to human virtual assistants. The natural language technology allows users to interact on a more conversational level. Not only does this help personal users who need to stay organized and on track, but the business applications are numerous as well.



4. Denise: Virtual Digital Assistant That Offers A Personal Touch


Science fiction stories have been filled with lifelike computer programmes that serve and sometimes become friends with human characters that populate the same world. The Denise digital virtual assistant brings those imaginative ideas closer to reality. She offers not only voice recognition and the ability to follow commands but a pretty face to look at and an ever-increasing knowledge base so her usefulness strengthens over time.


Although people can use Denise as a personal helper, she's equally skilled at organizing and increasing productivity in professional or business settings. Available for PC, MAC and Android, this digital assistant uses natural language recognition and interaction so talking and listening to her is intuitive. The end goal for Denise is for her to be an indispensable alternative to human virtual assistance.


What Gives Denise That Personal Touch?


When this computer helper is turned on, a high-quality graphic appears on your screen. The basic one is an attractive brunette woman. Other options include a sexy secretary, Hal from 2001 Space Odyssey, a cartoon Albert Einstein and a skeleton among others. No matter what avatar is displayed on the screen, the same assistance is rendered.


This programme uses the highest quality female English voice, although other TTS voices can be added if the user prefers something different. For example, a male voice can be used with the included male avatar.


Besides voice commands, Denise also uses a facial recognition programme to identify the user and load all learned information about their habits and repetitive tasks so she's ready for action. This also adds a layer of security.


Her artificial intelligence engine means adaptation and education is possible, to some considerable degree. She will not only learn the best way to serve the user but can also be manually customized to accomplish particular tasks or give specific responses to general comments. Denise has a wide selection of pleasantries and conversational skills to draw from.


Although the Denise programme is no longer being updated, the developers at Realbotix are now actively working on incorporating the Denise system into a robotic, human-like body!


Denise vs. Human Virtual Assistant


Pretty much any freelance assistant a company hires probably won't put their picture up on their client's computer screen. Denise does offer a graphic to look at while working, but it may be obtrusive for some people. However, the personal attention received from any type of virtual assistant has little to do with seeing a human face.


Using Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking's ultimate voice recognition technology, Denise not only understands basic commands but can read texts and emails to the user, fetch information from the Web, schedule appointments and report on the news of the day. All of these benefits can provide productivity boosts during the workday, but may not go far enough above any other voice recognition programme.


As helpful as a digital assistant maybe, a human virtual assistant brings more options to the table, for instance, the ability to inject new ideas, formulate new plans, compromise, and bring intelligence to the table that's not already available to the client. While the Denise application provides day-to-day assistance, the human touch simply can't be replaced by a virtual helper confined within computer software.


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