Gartner has said that chatbots and virtual assistants are between two and five years away from mainstream adoption, while speech recognition will reach that point in the next two years.
The latest Hype Cycle - Gartner's visual tool for showing how close developing technologies are to mainstream adoption - puts chatbots at the early innovation trigger stage, while virtual personal assistants have passed the peak of inflated expectations and are on their way down to the trough of disillusionment.
Despite the gap between them on the Hype Cycle, Gartner forecasts that both chatbots and virtual assistants will reach the mainstream at a roughly similar time, shortly after speech recognition - which they add value to.
"The effects of speech recognition can be seen on a daily basis," said analyst Matthew Cain. "Consumers and workers increasingly interact with applications without touching a keyboard. Speech-to-text applications have proliferated due to the adoption of chatbots and virtual personal assistants (VPAs) by businesses, and consumer adoption of devices with speech interactions including smartphones, gaming consoles and specifically, VPA speakers."
Van Baker, research VP at Gartner, said, "Increasingly, behaviour and event triggers will enhance virtual assistants. App development leaders need to anticipate their proliferation as more and more people and businesses move to conversational user interfaces.
"Businesses that haven't begun deploying AI to interact with customers and employees should start now, because customers and employees are increasingly expecting conversational interfaces to be available to address help desk and customer service issues."
Fewer than four per cent of organisations today have deployed conversational interfaces (which includes chatbots). However, 38 per cent are planning to do so.
Augmented and personal analytics (which chatbots use to provide personalised insight and recommendations) are two more technologies on their way through the Cycle. These democratise the ability to analyse data, and have the potential to turn everyone into a ‘citizen data scientist'.
Gartner predicts that, largely due to the automation of data science tasks, so-called citizen data scientists will pass professional data scientists in terms of the amount of advanced analysis that they produce.
This is the first year that citizen data science has entered the Hype Cycle, making insights from data science and machine learning "more accessible and pervasive in the organisation", said research director Carlie Idoine.
Citizen data science will quickly become part of the way that organisations enable and scale data science capabilities. The trend is expected to significantly enhance data-driven decision-making.
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