Recently, it seems as though Microsoft has eased off the gas on marketing its digital assistant Cortana. Not too long ago, Cortana was being heralded as the omnipresent interlinking user input that would mesh all of the company's varied hardware, software and services. Microsoft's digital assistant took center stage at several hardware unveilings, developer conferences and TV and YouTube spots.
Then, relative radio silence.
The team behind Cortana appeared to have retreated into the shadows and the products that leveraged Cortana evolved without the digital assistant. Microsoft seemingly slammed the brakes on the consumer facing development of Cortana and instead pivoted on a dime, to have Cortana host more business oriented task, and according to a new survey by Pindrop, specializing in the IT industry, Cortana is now more desired than ever.
Just when it seemed that Cortana was being pitted up against industry staples such as Google Assistant and Siri, Microsoft prophetically shuttered its consumer feature list and almost unwittingly enabled Amazon's Alexa digital assistant to take its place.
However, the 78 percent of businesses participating in the Pindrop survey, are looking to implement and use Cortana as their prefered input for some operations.
|Voice assistant technology||Voice assistant enterprise investment in next 2 years|
|Microsoft Cortana||78 percent|
|Google’s Assistant||78 percent|
|Amazon’s Echo||77 percent|
|IBM’s Watson||69 percent|
|Apple’s Siri||68 percent|
|Samsung’s Bixby||62 percent|
|SAP’s Co-pilot||64 percent|
Perhaps, the new focused feature set that includes Cortana's ability to sort and read aloud emails, messages and documents, is part of the reason Microsoft's solution is able to edge out Google and Amazon for the enterprise market for the moment.
While Amazon, Siri and Google go back and forth chasing consumer wants and needs of a digital assistant, Microsoft appears to be going after an increasingly interested business market, that has, to date, shown that 27% of the Pindrop survey group are using digital assistance, however, another 70%+ look forward to implementing a digital assistant input layer to their workflow.
Other Pindrop survery notes:
Ambitious Enterprise Voice Plans
- 94 percent of managers see voice technology as an important driver of customer satisfaction
- 88 percent believe they’ll gain a moderate or strong competitive advantage
- 57 percent believe it will increase operational efficiencies
- 57 percent also believe it will reduce the cost of each customer transaction
Perhaps, Microsoft's move towards slowing the consumer facing features down for Cortana is part of a long con that could help the company sell the more data secure business aspects of its digital assistant. With fewer consumer facing features to carry out, Microsoft is now free to focus Cortana on retrieving data that is already inherently encrypted by businesses such as documents and big data sets on secure servers or desktops.
“The proliferation of voice technologies will continue to put consumers’ security and identity at risk. Currently, fraudsters can easily get around existing authentication methods. As businesses adopt the latest voice technologies for the majority of customer interactions, there will be a parallel need for top-notch security.” - Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO and Co-founder, Pindrop
While it's not sleekest use of Cortana's Azure backed powers, they are the ones that will help Microsoft potentially flourish in the growing digital assistant powered enterprise market.
The vertical integration alone, should make Cortana a no brainer for most adoption scenarios that include the use of either Office 365, Azure, Power BI, Windows Server, Visual Studio or all of the above.
So, in the end, Microsoft's continued march toward becoming the next IBM is proving to be the strategic bet that's paying off best for the company. Cortana may not be making any appearances on latest YouTube battle vids or TV commercials, but it has the potential to be the default voice interface for business, the same way Office did back in the day.
Boring, yet convenient.