Windows 10 Cortana: Your Ultimate Virtual Assistant?

Wikipedia defines a virtual assistant as a "self-employed [person] that provides professional administrative, technical or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely". With the launch of Windows 10's Cortana and Apple's latest updates to Siri, the term "virtual assistant" has shot into the mainstream. Google has also entered the fray with Google Now.

The artificially intelligent (AI) virtual assistant

LifeHacker describes what you can ask Windows 10's Cortana. These include:

  • What's the weather like?
  • What's on my schedule?
  • What's the status of my flight?
  • How long will it take me to get to [place]?
  • Show me directions to [place].
  • Create an appointment.
  • Set an alarm.
  • Show me my alarms.
  • How long is Age of Ultron?
  • What is one US dollar in Japanese yen?
  • What time is it in California [or Perth]?
  • Show me Indian restaurants nearby.

The creatively intelligent (human) virtual assistant

Entrepreneur.com describes what you can ask a human virtual assistant. These include:

Bookkeeping
With the advent of cloud services such as Xero, it's relatively straightforward to engage an outsourced virtual assistant to process invoices and receipts as well as reconcile bank transactions.

Online research
Common searches include finding relevant information on corporate websites, investigating new products, vetting employees or business contacts as well as digging through blog posts such as this one.

Database entries
Entrepreneur.com highlights converting business cards to digital contacts as a painful and repetitive task best suited to an outsourced virtual assistant - for obvious reasons.

Data presentations
Businesses today are swimming in data and statistics that bolster their business case - why not engage a someone to put it into a succinct presentation using PowerPoint on PC or Keynote on Mac OS X. There's also tablet-optimised versions for cafe and elevator pitches. 

Managing email
With "inbox zero" proving to be a worthwhile habit, virtual assistants can filter through the most important emails and can the spam.

Social tasks
This is where an empathetic human really shines, as opposed to a cold and calculating AI. Sending thank you notes, holiday cards and condolences are something you definitely want to get right the first time, all the time.

Conclusion

To paraphrase MasterCard -  There are some things Cortana, Siri and Google can do. For everything else, there's a (human) outsourced virtual assistant. Real-life Team Wired Virtual Assistants can help you with day-to-day operational tasks and sensitive personal tasks that go well beyond what's in today's gadgets and gizmos. Speak to us today before Cortana does.

Photo credit: Halo/YouTube/ImaDrum. Research credit: LifeHacker/Eric Ravenscraft, Entrepreneur.Com/Alina Dizik.