As business leaders become more comfortable with artificial intelligence, we will begin to see more voice-activated technology in the office. Used to aid key business processes, soon Alexa and other voice-activated AI could be an integral tool in contract management, business process management (BPM), and even in legal technology such as litigation and case management. But what will voice-activated tech in business look like? Here are some voice-activated AI capabilities to look for in the short-, medium-, and long-term future:
Happening now(ish): accessing information for routine tasks
As voice-activated technology matures, we see this used more and more as the primary interface for accessing information. This will start small with routine tasks. For example, rather than clicking through to a report or dashboard managers will be able to simply ask the voice bot to bring up the report or the relevant statistic, such as "Alexa: what is the total value of contracts up for renewal?"
Happening soon: AI-aided analysis
The next stage will be more sophisticated analysis using voice-activated technology, such as "Alexa: what are the differences between our NDA and that of a potential partner?" The advantages are efficiency and productivity, as it eliminates manual handling of a lot of routine tasks. This capability could also be useful for BPM systems or tracking regulatory compliance, because managers could ask the AI to list the differences between current processes and workflows compared to upcoming regulations.
Happening later: AI negotiations and risk reduction
While still at least several years away, eventually voice-activated AI will help contract managers negotiate contracts or suggest alternative language that helps reduce risk. Today, companies can establish a set of parameters that are used to score new contracts based on the level of risk they present. AI could take this further by proactively suggesting alternative clauses, terms, and edits to reduce the risk score. With great potential to streamline vendor and contract management, this capability will only be brought to life by organizations that invest heavily in AI and acquire the large data sets required to train machine learning algorithms.
Can we really trust Alexa?
Even in the near-term there are major concerns about voice-activated AI in business that must be addressed. First off, it will take a while before these systems learn the nuances around business language, especially when you toss proprietary language and sensitive information into the mix. More importantly, there are a lot of security and privacy issues that will need to be worked through before we give Alexa access to our most valuable business data. For example, if it records conversations in meetings and sends it back to the cloud, who owns that information? What happens if it's compromised? In the next few years, business leaders and policymakers must develop forward-thinking processes and rules to govern this emerging business technology.