This report analyzes, estimates, and forecasts the global intelligent virtual assistant industry. An intelligent virtual assistant uses artificial intelligence in order to provide automated assistance to the user, and could be in the form of a fully animated avatar or 2D static character images. Digital humanlike avatars are customizable, and many participants offer services to change its appearance in accordance with the user’s aesthetic preferences. Companies operating in the market also provide voice/text-based solutions which employ effective natural language processing (NLP) capabilities. The need to improve online self-service is expected to be the chief market driver over the next few years. Consumers prefer to be self-reliant and require quick resolutions to their questions. Earlier self-service implementations entailed a static method of customer engagement through tree-based menus or search-based approaches. Intelligent virtual assistants are a considerable enhancement, and are used for fulfilling a variety of purposes, such as locating online information and performing online tasks. Increase in mobility and the number of wireless subscribers is expected to provide impetus to the market in the near future.
In addition to enhancing user experience, intelligent virtual assistants contribute in reducing customer service operational costs. They help deflect costs from costly channels such as technical support telephone contacts, email response, callback, etc. Furthermore, successful implementation of these services aids in reduction in hold times, since high-volume low-value calls can be diverted. Resolution time can also be reduced by transferring conversation content to a telephone agent in case of escalation. Another benefit of adoption of intelligent virtual assistants by companies is the ability to analyze the conversation between the agent and end user, which provides a great deal of market intelligence. With the knowledge of customer sentiment, issues in a product or the website, etc., companies can improve their services. The global intelligent virtual assistant market was estimated to be USD 352 million in 2012, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 31.7% from 2013 to 2020. Sophisticated logic and algorithms based on iterative development helps transfer customer queries to the back-end or knowledgebase, which evaluates customer intent and returns an appropriate response.
Users find it convenient to use virtual assistants instead of traditional navigation channels, and enterprises are benefitted due to faster response times and improved data collection. Large enterprises accounted for over 80% of the overall market share in 2012. These include businesses such as travel, insurance, media, retail, finance, government, etc. Account support, cross-selling to existing customers and availability of vital analytics are among key driving factors for adoption of virtual assistants in enterprises. Next IT Corporation has developed its Alme conversational platform for healthcare, in order for healthcare professionals to deliver personalized interactions. It enables physicians to provide one-on-one care and guide members through complex forms. Nuance Communications’ Nina Web platform also acts as a personal shopper, and helps augment shopper-confidence, return visits, and considerable cost savings. In addition to large enterprises, small and medium enterprises (SME) have been embracing intelligent virtual agent installations in order to drive revenue. The market for SMEs is expected to grow at a CAGR of 32.2% over the forecast period from 2013 to 2020. However, the lack of standardization, coupled with lack of awareness among end users is expected to be a key challenge for market players in the coming years.
Intelligent virtual assistant market revenue share by end-use, 2012
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North America dominated the industry in 2012 with over 40% of the global market share. It is expected to continue occupying leadership position in the market over the forecast period. Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing regional segment in the coming years, with an estimated CAGR of 33.1% from 2013 to 2020. Industry participants have been realizing the importance of providing a multi-modal platform so as to ensure superior customer self-service. Growing penetration of mobility is expected to be the key trend influencing market growth in this region. Creative Virtual’s Global Customer Support Outlook Survey showed that over 80% of the respondents in North America intended to use virtual agents on the customer service section of their website, with a considerable percentage planning on using them in conjunction with live chat. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were the most popular social network channels used for deploying intelligent virtual assistants in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). Measuring customer satisfaction rates and call deflection can be used to gauge the effectiveness of virtual assistants, which have become an important tool for supporting a multi-channel strategy.
Key companies operating in the market include Next IT Corporation, Creative Virtual Ltd. Nuance Communications, Anboto Group and IntelliResponse among others. Next IT’s Alme is a multi-channel, multi-modal and multi-language natural language processing platform. It aims to ensure cost savings, customer satisfaction, and enhance user engagement and revenue generation. Creative Virtual has developed V-Person, which can be deployed through web, live chat, social media and mobile channels using the company’s knowledge management platform called V-Portal. Other major players also provide features including automatic language detection, natural language understanding, continued availability, accuracy, etc. Artificial Solutions, CodeBaby Corp., eGain Communications are among other participants in the industry.