back to article Virtual assistant backlash imminent so buy them anyway

Gartner has predicted a backlash against voice assistants like Siri – but recommends that businesses deploy them anyway. This we learn from its "Hype Cycle for the Digital Workplace 2017" report, which positions virtual assistants right at the top of the "Peak of Inflated Expectations", and about to embark on a dizzying ride …

  1. Steve K Silver badge

    Hmmm

    I love the new diagram and hope that Gardner picks it up for their next report.

    On Gartner's own diagram I am surprised that Speech recognition is so far along the Productivity plateau.

    From a business perspective i am struggling to think of a case where productivity would be truly improved by that. Call centre call routing maybe, but real productivity?

    Can anyone list instances where they have gained business productivity from Speech Recognition?

    Genuinely interested (Alexa shopping etc. does not count here)

    1. vir

      Re: Hmmm

      I particularly like the automated voice-operated "customer support" lines that have you say the name of the item you want instead of just pressing a button:

      "In a few words, please tell us the nature of your problem. You can say: 'track a package', 'manage my account', 'purchase shipping supplies', 'get information concerning service delays or disruptions', 'listen to our corporate vision statement', ..."

      Which invariably ends with:

      "I'm sorry, I didn't understand your request. Goodbye."

      1. jMcPhee

        Re: Hmmm

        On most systems, responding with "I'd like to blimpfizz an ugglephumps" has usually been the quickest way to a human.

        1. Martin Summers Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          Shame on you! You should only do that if you really want to blimpfizz someone.

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          On most systems, responding with "I'd like to blimpfizz an ugglephumps" has usually been the quickest way to a human.

          ....Putting your call through to Rick and Morty Fan chat line.....

    2. wayne 8

      Re: Hmmm

      Businesses may have found some gains from Speech Recognition, but customers might have a different viewpoint.

    3. Rob F

      Re: Hmmm

      I support a number of Legal firms and speech recognition has revolutionised the dictation and transcription processes they have to run through. The product of choice appears to be Nuance's Dragon Legal. I asked out of interest what the accuracy level they were having and they said it was in the high nineties and doing a clean up at the end wasn't too time prohibitive.

      I can't remember if Legal admins could bill for that time, so if they couldn't it has allowed them to up their billing hours or be more productive.

  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Hang on a sec

    I'll just get out my WAP phone so that I can read the report.

  3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    "Trapdoor of Truth"

    This has now entered my lexicon.

  4. John Doe 12

    Shut Your Trap (door Of Truth)

    "The truth will set you free - but first it will piss you off!!"

  5. ma1010 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Gartner, getting far away?

    I wonder if at least some of the Gartner people are riding New Horizons. Their "logic" seems to be getting farther and farther out there somewhere.

    I mean "These things are crap, so be sure to spend the $ and deploy them quickly." People actually pay for this "analysis"? I'm in the wrong business.

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Real life examples would be genuinely interesting.

    Part of the difficulty so far seems to be getting speech recognition to handle the full range of real voices in real situations. And even then, the words need to be accurately understood as 'commands'. Clearly enunciated numbers on the phone don't count. Dictation software is one thing (not tried it recently, but ages back Dragon Dictate wasn't bad). But there's a world of difference between trying to transcribe "Get the Fire Brigade now" into a document that can be corrected, and a helpful assistant saying "Did you want me to order a Furbie now?", rather than dialling 999.

    And Gartner talking about the Hype Cycle? Can we have an icon for "something quite like iron"

  7. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Gartner has predicted a backlash.

    Dear Gartner. It started years ago

  8. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Crapner at it again

    So they are hyping something that might be marginally useful in most contexts if it is at all useful and very rarely useful as the next thing to spend on money on(TM). I would like to know where a VA is so tremendously useful that I must have it now. Is that crickets I am hearing?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Gartner predicts a backlash...

    ...so continued popularity guaranteed.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Winner of the Gartner Thought Leadership Award for his work on the digital workplace"

    My word, even the awards are crap, what the hell is a "Thought Leadership Award"?

    I tried to think about it but I can't fathom it, guess that's why I've never won it.

    Has anyone sat down and worked out as a planet collectively how much people spend on bullshit per annum?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > ... a planet collectively how much people spend on bullshit per annum?

      ~80%

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        No way - more like 86.4837445% and rising fast.

        1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          And our research indicates that it will reach 88.265498% by the end of the next century. Or possibly 123.66598%.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Well, Sturgeon's Revelation states that ...

            ... 90% of everything is crap.

            I've observed that up to 99% of everything seen and/or read online is crap.

            Shall we split the difference and say 95%?

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      My word, even the awards are crap, what the hell is a "Thought Leadership Award"?

      Has anyone sat down and worked out as a planet collectively how much people spend on bullshit per annum?

      - Sum one obviously, maybe that was what led to the creation of the Thought Leadership Award - what else would you call it? monetizing bullshit award doesn't sound like an award anyone would be able to brag about (or at least isn't very C.V able).

  11. J.Smith

    I want an assistant that will tell me to mind my own business sometimes, and tell me to go f&*k myself on occasion, and even to call in sick some days. I need more reality, to feel at home with technology.

    1. LoPath
      Coat

      For extra reality, the virtual assistant might even have a go with your wife!

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        "For extra reality, the virtual assistant might even have a go with your wife!"

        Reality? You've never been married have you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Jack off

      misplaced words

    3. jake Silver badge

      Sounds to me like ...

      ... what J.Smith wants is not virtual. What he/she wants is a spouse.

      Works for me, anyway.

  12. DagD

    next generations robocaller

    I've been saying for some time now that the next wave in tele-scams is coming in the form of not only voice recognition, but voice recreation. As in the ability to come up with a customization algorithm that will allow an attacker to use voice samples to create a convincing likeness on the phone of someone the victim knows.

    Armed with "hacked social media knowledge of the target", the attacker would then be fairly effective in duping the mark into believing they are talking to someone they know.

    Think CEO/CFO wire scams, Western Union wires, etc.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: next generations robocaller

      This could be interesting. If I scream an insult will it call me back and scream like the live ones do? I'd like to buy one so it could scream at the scammer VA and then both could start yelling at each other while I go get a fresh cup of coffee.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: next generations robocaller

      > Armed with "hacked social media knowledge of the target", the attacker would then be fairly effective in duping the mark into believing they are talking to someone they know.

      Damn. Given a few years, that does sound like a workable attack vector.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    BINGO!!!!!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish my assistant looked like Cortana.

    A woman and computer combined, I couldn't ask for more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wish my assistant looked like Cortana.

      Personally, she also needs to feel like that Cortana looks.

      Kind of useless if it's all looks and no er... substance.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speed it up

    Since all these late-capitalism ideas are so terrible, I prefer to skip the inflated expectations step all together, and jump straight into the pit of dispair.

  16. GX5000
    Big Brother

    Speech Recog is Dystopic

    Been on Dragon Dictate since WIN3.11 and I can tell you one thing, after talking to a PC for thirty minutes you realize that typing is a lot less effort.

    A keyboard and mouse are silent and a better tactile experience.

    Once they get us talking we'll neglect the ability to compose in a worthwhile manner and slowly lose the power of reading and words.

    1. Dave Bruce

      Re: Speech Recog is Dystopic

      "talking to a PC for thirty minutes you realize that typing is a lot less effort"

      Not necessarily so for those with pertinent disabilities, esp those who "train" their VR software.

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