Mobile shopping will increasingly be done through virtual voice assistants, according to new research from Gartner.
The technology research firm predicts that, by 2019, 20% of all user interactions with the smartphone will take place via virtual personal assistants (VPAs).
Voice assistants such as Apple Siri and Google Now are currently used for simple tasks such as setting the alarm or retrieving information from the Internet. But the technology is developing fast and in the near future these systems will be able to deliver more complex tasks such as completing a transaction based on past, present and predicted context.
Gartner’s annual mobile apps survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2016 among more than 3,000 consumers in the US, the UK and China found that 42% of respondents in the US and 32% in the UK had used VPAs on their smartphones in the last three months. More than 37% of respondents (average across US and UK) used a VPA at least once a day.
“VPAs’ usage is bound to accelerate as they add many new features, including integration for business services, further language support and appear across more devices,” said Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner.
Gartner also noted that voice is not the only way of interacting with VPAs.
In fact, Facebook Messenger allows users to interact with businesses to make purchases, chat with customer services and order Uber cars within the app. Tencent’s WeChat generates over $1.1bn in revenue by offering its 440 million users an all-in-one approach, letting them pay their bills, hail cabs and order products with a text.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s integration of Cortana into Skype will allow users to chat with their VPA. Cortana will then facilitate the interaction with a third-party bot to get things done, such as a hotel or flight booking.
“We expect AI, machine learning and VPAs to be one of the major strategic battlegrounds from 2017 onwards, and make many mobile apps fade and become subservants of VPAs,” commented Gartner research director Annette Zimmermann.
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