As if there wasn’t enough confusion out there regarding virtual assistants, along comes the iPhone 4S. The S, I’m guessing, stands for Apple’s version of a virtual assistant and ‘her’ name is Siri. Articles and blog posts have been singing her praises, absolutely amazed at the way she answers their questions and requests. I suppose some virtual assistants might be irritated. After all, we’ve spent a lot of time trying to distinguish ourselves as high level professional administrative support and now a scrap of artificial intelligence gets added to an iPhone and appears to muddle the issue once again.
Or not. I think it’s a chance to set ourselves apart even further.
Siri is artificial intelligence and as such is limited by both the questions asked of her and the answers her developers programmed into her. As helpful as she may be and as witty as some of her responses may appear, she can’t think for herself. Nor does she possess creativity and initiative. There are just some things that you’re never going to get from a programmed piece of software that you get from a living, breathing, thinking human being.
While Siri may return the three closest locksmiths to you when you’ve locked yourself out, she isn’t going to call them for you, explain your situation, get price quotes and send the best deal to your door. She may give you directions to the hotel you’re booked at, but she isn’t going to be able to call the hotel and set up the shuttle service to pick you up at the airport when your flight arrives.
Siri holds no loyalty to you or your business. Or anyone else’s for that matter. She’s simply not real.
Although I don’t have Siri, or even an iPhone, I’m pretty sure she’s not capable of pulling your PowerPoint presentation together. Blog assistance, e-book creation and website creation aren’t on her list of services either. Sometimes as fallible as we humans can be, the human touch is just what we need most.
Rather than be irritated by Siri, I’m embracing her. She’s giving me a great way to set myself apart. You see, when a potential client mentions her in the same breath as me and my services I have the perfect response.
“No, I’m not Siri. I’m so much better than that.”
P.S. As of this writing Siri is still considered beta. I’m not.