A Deep Dive Into The Evolution of Virtual Assistant

Technology

The business world wouldn’t exist without an assistant. Assistants were always present in the business world, even in the ancient world. They existed in a different form or under a different name but were always there. 

When everything migrated online, so were assistants. After all, this made sense; an assistant can answer an email from their home, and they do not need to go to the office. They can also schedule your meetings and handle all the outreach this way.

Even people who use assistants to brew themselves a coffee, get their lunch, or pick up their clothes from dry cleaning have a myriad of delivery services that their assistant can ring up. Still, how did we get here, what is the current state of the virtual assistant industry, and where do we go from here? Let’s find out by taking a deep dive into the evolution of virtual executive assistants.

Why Do Virtual Assistants Exist?

An assistant always supports a specialist, administrator, celebrity, or entrepreneur. Each of these people has a unique talent that allows them to rise above the rest of their industry, but, at the same time, they sometimes don’t get to do this as much as they could because they spend too much time on their day-to-day tasks.

Everything’s more difficult when you’re a high-value professional.

  • You get more calls.
  • You have more meetings scheduled.
  • You get more paperwork.

An assistant handles all of this and allows you to focus on what you do best. 

There’s also the question of cost-effectiveness here. For instance, imagine a programmer getting paid $100 per hour or a movie star getting paid millions, wasting their time responding to emails daily. What company would find this cost-effective?

Instead, all of these tasks are handled by assistants. 

Person vs. Bot

Before we continue any further, getting one thing out of the way is important. A virtual assistant is either a person or a software. If we’re talking about a person, the bottom line is that this is an assistant working remotely.

You can hire them directly or find a virtual assistant via an agency. The latter streamlines the process and allows you to find a person who’s already vetted and trained to be an assistant. If they have to leave, the agency will help you find someone new who fits the criteria.

Another thing worth mentioning is that this agency usually has specialists in various industries on its roster. For instance, they may have a virtual assistant specializing in social media or email marketing. They may also have an assistant specializing in an industry like real estate. 

Chatbots

The first step on this journey came in the form of chatbots. At first, these were specialized in providing customer support. Think of them as an interactive FAQ page; however, there’s more to it than that. These early chatbots served as a sort of filter. Namely, they tried to resolve the issue; if this weren’t possible, they would direct the person making a query to an operator. This sort of triage saved a lot of work. 

In time, these chatbots became so sophisticated that most online businesses either started using them or fully intended to do so. Even before this year’s major boost in AI and NLP technologies, some of these chatbots could pass a Turing test.

AI and NLP

AI and NLP are incredibly programmable, especially those designed to act as virtual assistants. These platforms are so capable of passing a Turing test that you would have difficulty telling the difference between them and a human assistant you’ve never met.

The NLP stands for natural language processing, meaning machines can finally understand and interpret human language. This enables you to communicate with them either via voice or text.

They can be highly personalized, and through the concept of machine learning, they can master any task that is put in front of them. The longer they do it, the better they become; however, unlike humans, this doesn’t depend on the time on the job but on the data fed into the system.

Just remember that the majority of the unreliability of this system comes from the unreliability of data. There’s a lot of misinformation, and it’s hard, even for sophisticated software, to tell the difference sometimes. 

Reasons To Hire Virtual Assistants

There are so many reasons why people hire virtual assistants. For instance:

  • Lower training costs: Even if you’re hiring human virtual assistants, the costs are much lower. Even if the operating costs are the same (which is not true), training costs are considerably lower. 
  • Boosting efficiency: The most efficient team is the one where everyone’s doing their best job. This is the setup that a virtual assistant has with any professional/specialist that they work for.
  • Freeing time for creative tasks: By delegating administrative tasks to someone else, virtual assistants are giving you more time to focus on the creative aspect of your work. This yields incredible results. 
  • Scalable business model: Hiring more virtual assistants is easier than hiring regular employees (even conventional employees). This means you can easily hire more when needed (especially if you go through the agency). 
  • 24/7 customer service: If you’re working with software, 24/7 customer service is implied. Even with a real employee, some virtual assistants are from different time zones, making delegating the night shift easier. 
  • Avoiding burnout: Simply put, delegating some tasks to your virtual assistants minimizes the chance of burnout. This also allows you to establish a healthier work-life balance.

Remember that all of these apply regardless of whether we’re talking about human or bot virtual assistants. 

Wrap Up

In the end, virtual assistants are a growing industry. With the advancement of NLP and more and more people working remotely, this trend is bound to pick up even faster. Since an increased interest ensures exponential growth, this already dominant industry will grow in some of the most unexpected ways. The benefits are numerous, and with the help of AI assistants, even human assistants will become more potent and accurate. 

Frances

Frances

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