Some Thoughts About the Enterprise Market for Digital Assistants

Digital assistants(DA) are becoming an important part of our everyday lives and are steadily becoming part of out business life as well. Recently, I was watching some examples about how devops are using Amazon Alexa to automate the provisioning and management of AWS assets via voice commands and couldn’t avoid thinking about the market potential for this type of enterprise DA solutions in the short term.

Don’t take me wrong. If you read this blog you know I’ve been actively exploring the technical and, let’s say, somewhat philosophical aspects of DA voice interfaces in the enterprise. However, being bullish about the technology and understanding the avenues that will guide the evolution of that market in the short term are two different things. Following that train of thought, I would like to explore some ideas about the challenges and opportunities of DA solutions in the enterprise.

Can DAs Become a Relevant Runtime in the Enterprise?

Following the web and mobile movements, DAs and messaging platforms are called to become the new runtime of choice of the new generation of applications. For people actively exploring this space, the more interesting question is to try to determine whether the trend will translate into a large enterprise market.

To illustrate my point, let’s look at the two most immediate predecessors of DA runtimes: mobile and web. Web development completely transformed the enterprise by creating an entire generation of successful companies and multi-decade technology movements. However, we can’t quite say the same thing about enterprise mobile solutions. While mobile apps are certainly relevant in the corporate world, the promise of the mobile-first enterprise didn’t quite materialize. From the market perspecitve,even though some movement within the mobile space such as security and mobile device management(MDM) were certainly successful , the number and market capitalization of enterprise mobile companies is certainly a fraction of its web predecessor.

Using that analogy as a reference, we should question whether DA solutions are going to become as transformational as the web or as, let’s say, semi-transformational as mobile apps in the enterprise.

5 DA Opportunities in the Enterprise

Having discussed the challenges, I would now like to explore some key opportunities for DA solutions in the enterprise:


Bring your own digital assistant(BYODA) to work could become the next evolution of the BYOD movement in the enteprrise. Qs DAs become more prevalent in our lives, it is expected that employees will discover and start using their own bots for business scenarios and organizations will need to remain responsive to those requirements. Platforms that automate the onboarding, security and management of multi-DA work environments are an interesting opportunity in the enterprise.

2 — Business Bots & DA Business Skills

Similarly to mobile business apps, there is a market for bots that automate common business tasks. It is also expected that SaaS platforms will start providing bots and DA skills as part of their distributions.

3 — Multi-DA Platforms: Can you imagine the nightmare of building different versions of a DA solution for heterogeneous runtimes such as Alexa, Cortana, Google Asisstant or Siri (at some point) ? I believe there is an opportunity for development platforms that enable the implementation of bots across different DA runtimes.

4 — DA Analytics

Without a doubt, enterprise DA solutions will require a new type of analytics that factors in aspects such as sentiment analytics, language session, engagement and many other relevant metrics that have no equivalent on the current generation of app monitoring platforms. DA analytics could become a very strong trend in the enterprise

4 — Security: Voice-based authentication to corporate systems, access control, SSO, identity management, data privacy are some of the security capabilities that might be required in enterprise DA solutions. Security is a robust are of opportunity in the enterprise DA space.

These are my top five opportutnies in the nascent enterprise DA space. Other interesting segments include: integration, testing, discovery and distribution. Certainly the enterprise DA market is very young but is already showing strong signs of excitement.

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, I write The Sequence Newsletter, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.

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