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Some VPAs Will Be Super-Intelligent, Others Might Actually Be Useful!

by Werner Goertz  |  September 26, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

The development of virtual personal assistant (VPA) technology has thus far aimed at creating an omniscient, omnipresent entity whose anticipation and insight is on par with the Oracle of Delphi. This super-brain would be the agent for scientific research on the human genome or cancer research, or predict complex data patterns such as weather or global warming. More power to that, Professor Watson!

As far as I am concerned, I am just a humble mortal who wants to book a flight using air miles: a seemingly insurmountable task for my VPA today, but one that would save me time and money: value that I’d be happy to share with the maker of my personal assistant!

Watson, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant are going to battle over whoever can come up first with a unified string theory, and personally, I couldn’t care less! As a consumer, I want my VPA to do things, not to spout irrelevant and useless scientific facts and relationships.

There will be a bifurcation in VPA technology, separating scientific applications from commercial consumption. Envision a future when my VPA will drive me to work, drop off the dog at the groomer’s and pick up my groceries. To do that, my VPA will need skills, a big group of friends and helpers (a.k.a. bots), and know me better than my dog does! Spare me the Knowledge Graph if my VPA can’t buy me a Metro ticket in Paris (in perfect French!).

If you are reading this blog and are building an app or a device and you’re wondering with which VPA ecosystem you should partner, you have two choices:

  • Pick the VPA with the biggest Knowledge Graph, get a cubicle in an ivory tower, and die poor.
  • Go with the VPA that has the relevant knowledge as well as the best utilitarian value, clever skills, and digital business connections.

Take option 2) and find a way to share tons of money from millions of transactions that will be effected that way!

If you’ll excuse me now, I have budgeted the rest of this Sunday afternoon to book an airline seat, because none of the VPAs today are smart enough to help me do that!

P.S. – who would you rather have dinner with: Sheldon Cooper or Penny? There – I rest my case!


Werner Goertz
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Werner Goertz is a Research Director within Gartner's Personal Technnologies team, where he covers personal devices (smartphones, PCs/Ultrabooks, tablets/ultramobiles and wearables) and IoT. A special emphasis of his research lies in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and multimodal I/O technologies: voice/speech processing and recognition, facial recognition and eye tracking, biometrics and motion/gesture control. Read Full Bio

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