The term “Rise of Machines� should bring you memories of the movie “Terminator� series and Skynet.

Virtual digital assistants (VDAs) are rapidly gaining traction in both consumer and enterprise markets. So, what are these VDAs? Virtual digital assistants are nothing but automated software programs or platforms that help the user through understanding natural language in written or spoken form. Going by the current trend, virtual digital assistants are poised to digitally transform the user experience.

Apart from smartphone-based virtual digital assistants which are widely popular, VDAs are also beginning to enter other device types like smart home systems, fitness trackers, PCs, and automobiles. This rapid proliferation of virtual digital assistants is due to the accelerated innovation and scalability of associated technologies like AI and NLP (natural language processing).

In future, you will be able to chat with your car about the best locations to visit. Your car will display the best possible route after analyzing driving time and getting your preferences conversationally. All these advancements will be due to the tremendous power of virtual digital assistants.

From the consumer-oriented virtual assistants like Siri, Amazon Echo etc., to dedicated software for business use cases, virtual digital assistants are going to digitally transform the customer experience. Thus, it is crucial for an enterprise to build a VDA in order to stand out from the crowd. Here are some of the steps to build an effective virtual assistant.

Step 1: Build a flawless speech-recognition system. This process requires acoustic modeling, voice modeling, and a speech-recognition engine

Step 2: Enable Natural Language Processing (NLP) which is the basic intelligence required to process semantics of a user’s speech input.

Step 3: Integrate machine learning or AI to improve the intelligence of the virtual digital assistant. This allows VDAs to learn, understand and adapt based on the information available.

Step 4: Since responses should be instantaneous, VDAs need large scale systems that provide the power required for processing large amounts of data.

Step 5: Finally, all these modules should be secured by means of an API gateway to interface with several other systems. It is worth mentioning that, VDAs should be designed for a mobile-first and cloud-based environment.

How could VDAs impact the customers and business?

VDAs would soon lead the era of high customer satisfaction. With VDAs, there is tremendous opportunity to better engage customers and employees alike.

Customer services will become more proactive. Virtual assistants will learn more about you from your texts, searches, emails and it will start suggesting or predicting what you need, even before you ask.