AI Assistants for business

Updated: December 12, 2018

2018. Amazon Alexa virtual assistant now available on Windows 10 PCs as a standalone app


Alexa debuted on select Windows 10 laptops earlier this year – built into a range of newly launched HP, Asus, Acer and Lenovo notebooks – and is now available for download on all compatible devices. Alexa’s presence on Windows 10 is aimed at work productivity and serves to highlight the AI assistant’s rise in office environments – much as the iPhone in 2007 moved quickly from individual users to become a mainstay of the workforce. Amazon is also forging deals with corporate partners. A range of companies, including  Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, Concur, Ring Central and ServiceNow, all plan to integrate their applications with Alexa for Business – the service launched last year to help companies manage large numbers of Alexa devices in the workplace.


2018. Salesforce allows to enter data to CRM via voice


Sales managers love to talk. In fact, talking is their job. But when it comes to entering customer data to CRM system, they have to type. Salesforce wants to save salespeople from such a cognitive dissonance. New feature - Einstein Voice - allows to enter data into the system using natural speech. Imagine, when getting behind the wheel, you simply launch the mobile app and talk to virtual assistant: "I just met John Smith. He is interested in buying, but asked to call him in a week ...". And the virtual assistant gently adds a note to this customer history in CRM. But Salesforce should do something with personality of their virtual assistant. It looks wrong to force Einstein to perform such simple tasks.


2018. Adobe introduced AI assistant for Adobe Analytics


Adobe introduced an AI-fueled virtual assistant called Intelligent Alerts to help Adobe Analytics users find deeper insights they might have otherwise missed. The way it works is the analyst receives some alerts they can dig into to give them additional insights. If they don’t like what they’re seeing, they can tune the system and it should learn over time what the analyst needs in terms of data. They can configure how often they see the alerts and how many they want to see. This all falls within the realm of Adobe’s artificial intelligence platform they call Sensei. Adobe built Sensei with the idea of injecting intelligence across the Adobe product line.


2018. Zoho gets virtual assistant and analytics upgrades


Zoho has unveiled a range of updates to Zoho One, its all-in-one cloud app suite, with new analytics capabilities and access to its Zia AI assistant. Zia was initially available within Zoho’s CRM tool, offering suggestions to sales reps based on customer data. It will now be extended across all Zoho One apps, offering contextual information from a variety of sources. For instance, Zia can pull data from Zoho CRM and service desk tool Zoho Desk to inform users of how many customers in the sales pipeline have an open support ticket. Customers will be able to ask Zia things that cross a number of apps, and get a response back that may have come from Zia working behind the scenes with multiple Zoho One apps to get the answer.


2018. Alexa-Cortana integration is now available


Microsoft now allows Alexa device owners to summon its own virtual assistant, Cortana, through their Echo devices, as well as call for Alexa via Cortana. Initially, customers will be able to call up Microsoft’s Cortana through their Echo devices and enable Amazon’s Alexa on Windows 10 devices and on Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. Later, it will arrive on mobile platforms like iOS and Android. Once enabled, the integration will allow Cortana users to ask Alexa to shop Amazon, manage their Amazon orders, and use some of Alexa’s third-party skills. Alexa users, meanwhile, will gain access to Cortana’s knowledge about productivity features including calendar management, their day at a glance, and their email.


2018. Google Assistant gets custom routines and schedules


Google announced two new features for Google Assistant: custom routines and schedules — both focusing on automating things you do regularly, but in different ways. The first lets you trigger multiple commands with a single custom phrase — like saying “Hey Google, I’m awake” to unsilence your phone, turn on the lights and read the news. Schedules, meanwhile, could trigger a series of commands at a specific time on specific days, without you needing to say a thing.


2018. Alexa gets smart meeting scheduling


Amazon's Alexa has made it easier for business users to manage personal schedules via voice commands, adding the ability to move appointments and schedule meetings based on participants’ availability.  While it was already possible to create and cancel appointments with Alexa, the Smart Scheduling Assistant feature gives users more control, cutting time and effort. To schedule a one-to-one meeting, a calendar must first be linked to a user’s Alexa account.


2018. Zoho's Zia learns to speak. Takes on Cortana


Zoho CRM 2018 update added voice to its AI-powered sales assistant - Zia. Zia can now interact with you through both voice and chat messages to perform any action inside Zoho CRM.  Want to know your schedule for the day? Just ask Zia. On the go and want to check if you have enough inventory of a particular product before your next customer visit? Just ask Zia. Want to quickly mark a deal as Closed-Won after hanging up with the customer? Just ask Zia to do it for you. You interact with Zia either through the voice interface in the Zoho CRM app in iPhone or Android, or through the chat bar in Zoho CRM in your desktop web browser. Recall that Microsoft embedded voice assistant Cortana into Dynamics CRM almost 3 years ago.


2018. IBM unveiled voice assistant for business and it's called ... Watson


In "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" people always asked super-intelligent robot Marvin to fulfill only simplest tasks, that's why he was always depressed. The same thing can happen with IBM's AI Watson. The company will make him working as a voice assistant and answer simplest questions about weather, traffic and schedule. Even worse, people won't know that they are talking to Watson, because it is white labeled service. Any company can now create own voice assistant on Watson Assistant platform and call it Ivie for example. In fact,  Watson Assistant already works in a bunch of spots, including the Munich Airport and the Royal Bank of Scotland.


2018. Google Assistant arrives on iPad


Google Assistant has launched on iPad to allow customers to control their smart home, make calls, send texts, set reminders and more, from their Apple tablet. It’s offered on iOS in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil) and Spanish, Google notes. The arrival on iPad offers a similar experience as on iPhone, the only real difference being the larger screen and support for iPad-only features, like multitasking with a split screen. While there’s a lot of talk of the growing traction of smart speakers, like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple’s HomePod, voice assistants have the potential for even broader reach by way of mobile devices. Of course, neither the Alexa app nor Google Assistant are as accessible on iOS devices like iPad, compared with Siri, which can be activated with a press of a button or the voice command, “Hey Siri.”


2018. Microsoft Teams will integrate with Cortana


Microsoft Teams, the company’s team collaboration software and challenger to Slack, announced a suite of new features that will roll out to the software throughout 2018. This includes features that will allow users to record, transcribe and save meetings to the cloud, integrations with voice assistant Cortana, inline message translation and several others. The added integration with Cortana’s voice assistance could give Microsoft an edge in its battle with Slack, given the increasing importance of voice-based computing in the workplace and within business productivity applications.


2018. Google Assistant adds Routines and location-based reminders


Google Assistant is getting two new features: Routines and location-based reminders. With Routines, you can create personalized commands and responses – for example, saying “OK Google, I’m home,” could turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat, and play some music. It’s a feature that rival Alexa announced in September 2017. Location-based reminders is another new feature set to roll out in the near future. This option is already available in Google Assistant on smartphones, but it will now be integrated into Google Home devices, as well. Besides Google announced forthcoming Google Assistant’s multilingual support and the addition of more languages this year, Google also announced this morning its smart assistant


2017. Zoho CRM gets AI assistant


Zoho has introduced Zia - the Artificial Intelligence-powered Sales Assistant for Zoho CRM. Zia lets you know when something is going extraordinarily well –or wrong- in your sales operation, knows what you want to do – and helps you do it faster and bring the end of voicemails and unread emails. Zia is capable of learning, over time, the most frequent actions a particular user takes on Zoho CRM. Besides, Zoho introduced Blueprint, a sales process automation platform and upgraded two features to platforms: Zoho PhoneBridge, which connects a customer's PBX system to the Zoho CRM system, and SalesSignals, which provides real-time information about the activities of customers and prospects.