Voice Assistants for business

Updated: August 11, 2019

2019. The Google Assistant can now finally manage your G Suite Calendar



New Google Assistant feature now can help you manage your work calendar in G Suite. You’ll be able to sign in with your G Suite account and ask the Assistant for information about your work day. This integration should work across all Google Assistant surfaces, including the car and Assistant displays like the Google Home Hub. Right now, this feature mostly focuses on asking for calendar events, though. As far as we can tell, you won’t be able to create an event through the Assistant just yet. Google does note, though, that you can use this feature to, for example, ask about an upcoming event and then send an email to the other attendees. What’s interesting here is that so far, Google has never positioned the Assistant as a productivity tool in the workplace. Names like “Google Home” and “Home Hub” pretty much make that clear. Sometimes, though, work and home life overlap and at its core, the same technology that allows you to turn on your kitchen lights with your voice could also be used to pull interesting data out of a spreadsheet.


2018. Alexa for Business opens up to third-party device makers



Last year, Amazon announced a new initiative, Alexa for Business, designed to introduce its voice assistant technology and Echo devices into a corporate setting. Today, it’s giving the platform a big upgrade by opening it up to device makers who are building their own solutions that have Alexa built in. The update will allow device makers to create products that can be registered with Alexa for Business, and managed as shared devices across the organization. The device management capabilities include the ability to configure things like the room designation and location and monitor the device’s health, as well as manage which public and private skills are assigned to the shared devices. Amazon claims thousands of businesses have added an Amazon Echo alongside their existing office equipment since the program’s debut last year, including companies like Express Trucking, Fender and Propel Insurance, for example.


2018. Zoho's Zia learned to speak like 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.


2017. Amazon Alexa comes to office


Amazon launched its digital voice assistant Alexa for Business. She lets you be more productive throughout your day and stay focused on important tasks. Alexa can help you manage your schedule, keep track of your to-do list, and set reminders. Alexa can automatically dial into your conference calls and make phone calls for you. The push aims to extend the online giant’s wide lead over rivals like Apple's Siri, Google's Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana as competition heats up in a market that analysts say could transform the way people interact with technology. Alexa for Business Starter Kit that includes 7 smart speakers costs $709.


2016. Microsoft redesigned Cortana for iPhone and Android


Virtual assistant Cortana is still not very popular on iOS and Android. So Microsoft decided to redesign it. With Cortana’s makeover, the more popular “quick actions,” as they’re called, have been given a more prominent position. While you still access them with a tap from the main screen, those things you do the most — like viewing your day, viewing or setting reminders, checking meetings and reading the news — have moved to the front of the experience. The black-and-white theme is gone in favor of a very purple one. And, under the hood, Microsoft has made speed improvements so the app feels faster than before.


2016. Google opens Assistant to third-party developers



Google Assistant, the Alexa/Siri-like AI offering is the heart of Google's new phone Pixel, announced today.  And much like Alexa, the company is set to open its smart helper to third-parties. The company’s answer to Amazon’s Skills is the ironically passively named Actions on Google. The program will open Assistant’s SDK to developers starting this December. With it, devs will be able to create two kinds of actions – Direct and Conversation. The former entails simple requests like home automation, while the latter is more of a back and forth interaction utilizing API.ai.


2016. Siri lands on the desktop



Apple released the new version of its desktop operation system macOS Sierra. It’s available in the Mac App Store as a free download. One of the most promising changes is that Siri is coming to the Mac for the first time. The assistant can replace many of Spotlight’s features – like helping you find a file, perhaps, or search through photos. It can also help you interact with your Mac, like turning on or off your Wi-Fi, start FaceTime calls, set reminders, or adjust your volume. Siri on Mac is all about multitasking. So you can be working on one thing, like finishing up a document, and ask Siri to send a message to your coworker saying it’s on the way — without stopping what you’re doing.