Having recently dropped Cortana for Siri (I’m still mourning that, but I have apps!), I must admit I haven’t integrated either into my life as a habit. I’m a writer at heart, so it still feels more natural for me to type and tap rather than talk to get things done. The next generation have never known a phone without a voice activated assistant though. To them, it’s not a bot, it’s a productivity tool.
The voiceless bots have their place though. Chatbots on web help us find information while feeling like there’s a human replying back. Services like swole.me purely process data and plan meals without us having to make all the decisions.
With Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, our voice activated servants are growing. Except in Australia where you can’t buy either. You can get creative acquiring one though and setting Alexa to a location of Guam, which shares the same time zone.
On their own, these bots are glorified searchers and data entry units – “What time is the game on TV?” “Set a reminder for tomorrow to send James a birthday card.”
Hook them up to connected things in your home and you are entering home automation territory. Combine a Raspberry Pi with Siri for an Apple-esque voice controlled home.
Use Alexa to dim your Philips Hue lights or turn on your Belkin WeMo switch. She will also place your Amazon orders (again, outside of Australia) unless you disable that for the safety of your credit card balance. You can also add Alexa to your If This Then That recipes for access to other online services.
As consumer Cloud services have grown, people are more driven by functionality than by brand loyalty. It doesn’t cost much (sometime it’s even free) to have multiple different service subscriptions, so you’ll find people using Google Calendar and Dropbox instead of Google Drive. Connectivity of these services is another battleground, with bots like IFTTT and Zapier automating routine tasks between disconnected services or even automating tasks in the same product set.
Microsoft recently entered the market, well part of it anyway, with Flow. I say part of it because Microsoft’s small list of connective services are heavily weighted towards business & Enterprise use and less at personal apps. I’m watching to see if that changes. Microsoft has extended this type of service with advanced conditions in its connectors and the ability to add gateways to on-premises data.
Behind all of this, the bots are collecting and processing data. We are giving them information to feed off, that they will hopefully keep private and only use to improve their services (and sometimes their recommendations). Even in our personal lives, we’re connected to the Big Data in the Cloud. Don’t think about that for too long or we’ll get into Skynet territory. That’s another article coming soon.
But it is another driver behind Digital Transformation and what companies are now dealing with. All of these electronic records of usage and purchases are driving how companies create, refine and supply products and services to their customers. All of that has an impact on ultimately what the I.T. requirements are for an organisation.
Do the bots concern you or have you automated your life outside of the office? Let me know in the comments.