How Intelligent Virtual Assistants are redefining the boundaries of conversational AI

Guest Column: Niraj Ruparel, National Head - Mobile, Mindshare, shares his predictions for Voice Technology in India

e4m by Niraj Ruparel
Published: Jan 6, 2020 9:02 AM  | 4 min read
Niraj Ruparel Mindshare

2019 has been a landmark year for technological advancements. While chatbots had already been incorporated in most online business verticals, they have come a long way from the era of stilted conversations and limited responses. Through the incorporation of Intelligent Virtual Assistant solutions (IVAs), the AI world is being driven by greater levels of capability building, opening the doors to new avenues of service offerings. The immense efficiency displayed by this technology has made businesses look toward it as a necessary driver of better ROI, improved customer engagement, operational efficiency, productivity booster and an active facilitator towards achieving more organisational objectives.

In the coming year, IVA solutions are all set to push the boundary of the technological space, with advancements that will aid in better adaptation and customisation in order to make interactions or transactions more seamless. The idea behind it is to replicate human behaviour and encourage users to engage with the brand through its use. Dynamic digitisation of e-commerce retail organisations have changed the way people buy and sell things. With smartphones becoming the biggest transactional touchpoints, the consumers are actively looking for someone to guide them through the purchase experience, without being overly intrusive. To fulfil these needs conversational commerce has been adopted by many, as it acts as a Digital Sales Assistant with supplementary benefits of round-the-clock accessibility, the capability of handling large transactional volumes while offering a consistent engagement experience. This helps the brand become available to its consumers as and when they need it, making it omnipresent in their lives.

Voice Technology predictions for 2020 in India

Increased functionality

Instead of staying within a specific environment of skill or AOG, developers will be able to create integrated solutions and source information from one to another giving users a more holistic and connected experience on voice. 

Contextual voice solutions

With voice assistants reaching more devices, the penetration and overall occasions of humans interacting with machines through voice are increasing. This is going to lead to a rise in situational content. For example, the rise of smart earbuds with Alexa built-in could help the users with public transport navigation, replying to texts, listening to music and be a travel guide, all through voice.

Brand presence to become strong on voice

Earlier, brands were hesitant in joining the voice revolution but now, there’s a growing awareness and understanding that voice is not just a viral trend, it is a necessity. Companies must now include voice in their annual budgets and explore engaging use-cases to explore the space.

Data collection and Privacy

As more services and brands make their presence known on voice, users will have increased questions around data and their privacy. Security would take the centre stage in 2020 and Service Providers would need to be clear in terms of what is required and how it is collected.

Inclusive shopping experience

The combination of voice technology, increasing user penetration and brands joining the voice revolution is guiding shoppers as they conduct their transactions through voice. From discovery to selection to checkout, users would expect the shopping journey to remain on Voice without having to access apps or other platforms.


Specific requirements of users would need to be fulfilled as users speak their demands, which is both, easily expressed and widely adopted. It would be imperative for brands to provide these personalised requirements for continued success.


For the earbud generation, not only music but also podcasts as a source of audio entertainment would see a rise. A larger audience will consume content across genres in a language they love. It would be interesting for companies to explore telling their brand stories in this new format.

Arrival of NBU on the Internet

Voice is the most natural form of communication and as it surpasses barriers of literacy, Voice will adapt to more regional languages to welcome users on the internet. In a country like India which has 22 official languages, brands would have to build solutions in local languages that make technology useful for ‘Bharat’ as well.

Siri breaks the iOS boundaries

Siri, the first voice assistant, launched in 2011, has since been within a contained environment of iOS devices. As Apple seeks to relax the reigns on Siri, it is possible to see Apple’s voice assistant powering devices in homes. This might bring in a significant impact on market dynamics.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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