A third of UK workers would welcome a digital assistant to free up their time

digital assistant

A vision of the present. © Pixar Studios

In the 2008 Pixar film WALL-E, humans have fled the planet they have destroyed in an orgy of garbage-generating mass-consumerism and been reduced to morbidly obese, sedentary lumps living vicariously through screens and whose every need is catered for by the machines around them. Well, they say the best science fiction is really about the present day and sure enough, it appears that many of us are perfectly happy with the idea of suckling at the galvanised teat of a robot overlord. A new survey carried out by ClickSoftware  claims that a third of UK employees would welcome the idea of having a personal digital assistant to help them carry out everyday tasks. Over half (58 percent) hope that intelligent apps will take on at least a tenth of their workload in the future, especially those tasks considered mundane and repetitive such as administration, work scheduling and planning journeys.

According to the survey of 2,000 UK based professionals, Millennials are twice as likely as older workers to welcome into their life a new digital assistant such as Siri or Microsoft’s recently launched Cortana.  There is also a regional split in the UK with Londoners most receptive to the idea while the people of Northern Ireland most resistant.

The authors of the report claim that with potential time savings of up to an hour each day, it’s a matter of time before such technology gains widespread consumer approval. As we reported last week, people are increasingly concerned at the amount of information they have to process each day and are struggling to manage their time appropriately. According to Steve Mason, Vice President of Mobility, EMEA, at ClickSoftware, a digital assistant could be a big help.

“Consumers are already using simple versions of intelligent personal assistants,” he claims. “Very soon, we will be seeing more advanced professional applications offering advice on different aspects of our working lives – from route planning, to appointment booking, even suggesting places to eat based on current locations or our past habits.  While there is still, naturally, a hesitancy towards the concept of smart assistants or AI, these applications are simply a way of helping staff rather than replacing them. None of us like doing admin, and often waste time putting it off, so businesses now have the opportunity to take away one of the least productive parts of our working day so employees can focus on more meaningful tasks.”