While 2022 gave us the metaverse, 2023 will likely go down as the year of AI. Applications like ChatGPT took the world by storm and an increasing awareness of AI’s current capacity and future potential have transformed the way business leaders, educators, and everyday consumers think about the way they can and will interact with technology.
One of the most noticeable manifestations of AI in our day-to-day routines is the increasingly ubiquitous AI personal assistant. Rather than envisioning an AI assistant as a one-size-fits-all form of software, it’s more useful to imagine AI as a new type of utility (e.g. water, electric, internet) that can support our everyday household and business “appliances” through multifaceted personas.
Over the course of this article, we’ll explore six of the most common types of AI personal assistants on the market today and see who they are best equipped to serve.
1. Everyday Virtual Personal Assistants
Everyday virtual personal assistants, like Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Google Assistant, are perhaps the most well-known AI companions. They use conversational AI to assist users across a wide range of tasks, from setting reminders and sending texts to answering questions and controlling smart home devices.
In the case of Siri and Google Assistant, they work hand-in-hand with your smartphone to provide on-the-go assistance. Amazon’s Alexa has carved out a niche as a leader in the home automation space. With millions of Echo devices sold, it’s commonplace to activate lights, music, and more from the comfort of your living room couch.
These AI assistants all use natural language processing (NLP) to understand and respond to user voice commands, making them incredibly versatile. They are suitable for just about any consumer who’s seeking to simplify a few workflows in their everyday life.
2. Customer Service Chatbots
While customer service chatbots have been around for over a decade, they’ve only recently begun to offer more intelligent capabilities that can actually help customers resolve their questions and challenges.
These AI-powered chatbots are programmed to handle customer inquiries, provide information, and even complete transactions. They're available 24/7, with the potential to enhance customer support and save businesses time and resources when done properly.
Effective use of customer service chatbots (also known as conversational agents) might include the ability to link out to appropriate help articles, be directed to a human representative, and demonstrate awareness when a question falls outside of the chatbot’s capabilities. Most businesses with a sizable customer base may consider incorporating a customer service chatbot as a way to support timely and effective support engagement.
3. Generative AI Assistants
While the first wave of AI assistants primarily dealt with connecting you to the right tool or setting up a simple workflow (e.g. setting an alarm for 7:30am), the latest wave of AI tools has given everyone the ability to be a creator.
Content creators and bloggers are increasingly turning to AI assistants to generate written content from tools like OpenAI's ChatGPT. Similarly, designers are utilizing tools like Dall-E and Midjourney to create visual art. While these AI assistants aren't capable of replacing high quality human writers and illustrators, they're powerful aids that can help everyday knowledge workers save time and provide inspiration.
4. Educational AI Assistants
Educational AI assistants, such as Duolingo or Coursera's AI-powered tutors, can provide personalized learning experiences. They adapt to individual student needs, offering recommendations, explanations, and tracking progress. These AI assistants are reshaping the way we learn, making education more accessible and effective.
Experts anticipate that AI-tailored curriculum will move beyond niche adult-based learning and continue to advance across age groups and subjects to become a standardized best practice learning modality (Stanford, 2023). Just as a modern warehouse manager might be prompted with AI-based suggestions about how to manage inventory or staffing, a teacher of the future may work hand-in-hand with an AI assistant to curate the right learning materials and cadence for their class.
5. AI Financial Advisors
Managing finances can be daunting, but AI financial advisors are here to help. Companies like Betterment and Wealthfront use AI algorithms to analyze financial goals, risk tolerance, and market trends to provide investment advice and manage portfolios. These AI assistants aim to optimize financial decision-making, helping users grow their wealth efficiently.
Legacy brokers such as Fidelity, Schwab, and Vanguard are increasingly adopting AI assistants as well in order to stay competitive and ensure that their customers have the proper support they’re looking for. In some cases such as Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio, a robo-broker may help tailor a personalized portfolio. In others such as Fidelity’s Adviser Solutions, a broker may take a human and AI approach by providing Ai assistance to certified financial advisors who can then work directly with clients.
6. AI Chief of Staff / Executive Assistant
While many of the aforementioned AI assistants perform admirably in service of everyday consumer usage, a new breed of assistants are providing unparalleled value to the business world. The primary means of support is task automation (i.e. handling tasks on behalf of the user).
Xembly’s AI Chief of Staff is leading the way in delivering scheduling, note taking, and priority management assistance alongside users in Slack, email, and calendar. Collectively, these efforts result in substantial time savings as well as greater clarity and focus for a knowledge worker.
One differentiator between modern AI Assistants and legacy software tools, is that the latter typically exist to meet one business need from a reactive standpoint. For example, if I have a scheduling need, I can use a scheduling link to schedule my meeting. An AI assistant would not only be able to schedule a meeting but can also proactively suggest when a meeting needs to be scheduled or when a workday seems busy and may need time blocked off for focus time or rest.
AI assistants have come a long way in reshaping the way we live, work, and interact with technology. Whether you're seeking help with daily tasks, looking for educational support, or managing your finances, AI assistants are here to assist you, making life more convenient and efficient.
10 years from now, we may look back and laugh at the primitive capabilities of the assistants from 2023. But for now, the future is here, and the opportunities are endless for forward-thinking individuals and teams to explore new technologies and find the right AI assistants to support their journey.
For knowledge workers seeking to elevate the way they work with everyday support, you can get started with Xembly’s AI Executive Assistant at xembly.com/signup.