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Get ready for virtual digital assistants in the enterprise

Bart Perkins | Dec. 23, 2015
Like smartphones and tablets before them, they’re coming, whether IT wants them or not. Are you prepared?

No doubt some of the new VDAs will include useful features for your organization. Since it will be virtually impossible for IT to prohibit VDAs from most enterprises, IT is much better off evaluating the tools and guiding the rest of the organization toward tools that integrate well with the architecture.

  • Be ready to move quickly. Begin building a business case. While most mobile VDAs in the consumer market are bundled into users’ monthly phone fees, enterprise VDAs typically have a separate charge. Even without a monthly license fee, VDAs are not free when IT staff time is included in the calculation. A large number of IT person-hours will be required to enable existing applications to work with a VDA, to train new users and to resolve problems when the tools don’t work as expected.

In addition to building a business case, gain support from other executives. VDAs have the potential to change job content throughout the organization. If these tools are introduced willy-nilly without a plan or organizationwide support, change management will be a nightmare. Conversely, if tools are not made available as the demand grows, it will be one more reason to label IT as “no and slow.”

In the early days of IT, businesses had better technology than consumers. That shifted with smartphones and tablets; today, many technology innovations target the consumer market first and are only later adapted for the enterprise. Start preparing to include VDAs in your IT architecture very soon. The computer interface envisioned in Star Trek is about to become a reality. What’s next, transporters?


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