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The battle of the smart assistants should definitely include Cortana

By Lulu Chang

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For the time being, it may seem that the battle of the smart assistants rages only between two contenders — Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. But lest you forget, that there are, in fact, other artificial intelligence-based helpers in the running.A new survey suggests that when it comes to smart assistant superiority, you certainly shouldn’t count out Microsoft Cortana. The survey, which targeted IT professionals, was conducted by Pindrop, an Atlanta-based company that specializes in voice technology security. These folks found that nearly four out of five businesses would like to integrate Cortana into their business operations in the next two years. That is the same percentage of folks who said they wanted the same with Google Assistantand, in fact, a percentage point higher than the number of businesses that said they wanted to bring Alexa into their operations (77 percent).

This finding drives home the belief that when it comes to smart assistants, users aren’t necessarily loyal to a single technology. In fact, just last month, Microsoft and Amazon announced a partnership between their two seemingly rival technologies, allowing folks to access either of the two assistants on either Amazon or Microsoft hardware (that is to say, Echo speakers or Harman Kardon Invoke speakers).

Perhaps the largest difference between Microsoft and both Amazon and Google is that the former has focused more on enterprise customers, whereas Alexa and Assistant have been marketed more toward the everyday user. As such, it comes as little surprise that the Pindrop study, which surveyed IT decision makers at companies with more than 100 people, found that respondents had a greater appetite for Microsoft’s offering.

Regardless of which assistant users choose, it’s clear that there is plenty of opportunity in the enterprise space. The study found that only 28 percent of businesses currently use voice technology, but that about two out of three want to use digital assistants for most customer interactions sometime in the next five years.

However, folks are still a bit wary when it comes to the security risks that come alongside these sorts of assistants. As Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO and co-founder of Pindrop, noted, these concerns are grounded in real problems.

“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.”

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