Hey Siri, What will Robo-Advisors look like when you grow up?
As their name implies, AI assistants such as Alexa or Siri already provide services in the homes of millions of Americans. Their commercial success is spurring large investments from their masters to capture the hearts of millions more. In this context, the next generation of robo-advisors, will benefit from more ‘intelligent’ or contextually aware assistant technologies smart enough to make financial transactions on your behalf.
Because AI assistants understand what you say when you talk or recognize patterns, they eliminate the need for you to access the web through a browser or on mobile systems through an app. A simple voice command allows you to order a pizza or listen to your favorite music. Because it is expected that AI assistants will eventually be available in each and every room of your home, the battle for the hearts and souls of consumers around the world have brought Artificial Intelligence into focus.
For Companies providing services, this means that soon, a new way to reach their customers will emerge. In the finance world, it is expected that Alexa and Siri will become smart enough to perform financial advisory duties, connect to your brokerage account, make transfers, pay bills and trade on your behalf.
In the backend, these services will still be provided by your favorite bank or Robo-Advisor but the interface with the customer will be done through voice command through home pods, mobile devices and desktop applications.
AI Assistants' Brave New World
Because voice interfaces provide ease of use, the penetration of the Amazon Echo Dot and HomePod Siri from Apple will soon enable millions of people to access ‘skills’ or ‘apps’ from simple voice commands. These internet enabled voice activated robos already provide a large array of services including getting the latest news or order your groceries from the comfort of your living room.
Voice enabled assistants like Alexa and Siri provide the baseline for General Artificial Intelligence in the home. These AI assistants allow a new generation of apps or skills to be added to the baseline assistant. Once enabled, these skills will add intelligence and context to Siri and Alexa and augment access to a wide variety of financial services.
For example it is expected that Alexa or Siri will be able to have skills to help you manage your bank account. Using voice recognition, the robo will be able to determine that you are the account holder and perform a wide range of services for you such as making transfers, paying bills and trade in your account.
Because there is a wide range of apps already in their ecosystems, Apple and Amazon are poised to offer a very large amount of new skills for their assistants in very short order through their respective developer programs.
Because of its wide ranging availability in our homes, mobile devices and desktops, it is expected that the rapid proliferation of skills will change how we manage our finances and other dimensions of our lives.
Overtime, Alexa or Siri will become smarter and acquire skills to monitor your funds, keep an eye on the market, compare your performance against other clients, suggest improvements and rebalance your portfolio.
An Opportunity for Financial Services Providers
As a developer, and assuming that Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM or Google refrain from taking over your business vertical, you can expect large benefits from building the next wave of skills that will be needed in this brave new world and gain access to millions of customers through Amazon Echo Dot, Google Home or Apple HomePod.
Alexa, Hey Google or Siri in this context are quickly becoming the next operating systems we will use to conduct everyday business transactions and provide personal entertainment to millions of people around the world.
Because of the exponential nature of AI development and high demand for smarter assistants, and if regulations don’t limit the monopolization of information, it is expected that the next battle for conquering the hearts of consumers will be fought between IBM, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.
And because we do not need 5 kinds of the same offering, it is expected that 1 or 2 consumer General Artificial Intelligences will emerge and 1 or 2 winners will emerge on the B2B side.
If we push the analysis further, we can already see who will most likely win this battle. Apple, with its wide consumer footprint and superior engineering, is expected to take a large market share of the US market. Amazon may lose the consumer penetration battle, but because Alexa enables a large set of shopping services, it will continue to thrive in its market segment, possibly through Siri itself. IBM with Watson will continue to grow in the B2B and Government segments while Microsoft and Google may have lost the consumer battle already. They may however still provide excellent technology for businesses and Government and even contribute major breakthroughs and innovations. Time will tell.
If you are interested in investing in Artificial Intelligence Companies and knowing that Apple and Amazon are poised to own the AI consumer market, their stocks have the potential to grow exponentially in the next 2-3 years. IBM, Microsoft and Google, may not have what it takes to win the heart and soul of consumers but they do however have the ears of businesses and Governments who are investing heavily in AI. They should flourish as well in their respective spheres of influence.
As for you financial services providers and robo-advisors, I think it would be wise to look into the benefits that AI Assistant technology provides early and think about starting your Alexa or Siri dev program, so that you can partake in the birth of this new, exciting AI world. That is, if you don't want to lose ground to your competitors.