Cisco study shows that people around the world are ready to work alongside virtual teammates. In fact, adding a virtual teammate just might make workers happier.

Cisco surveyed workers in 10 countries as they wanted to know how people feel about advanced technologies in the workplace. This comes on the heels of our recent announcement of Cisco Spark Assistant, the world’s first enterprise-ready voice assistant for meetings.

Key themes and findings

The 52-question survey produced lots of intriguing data points. For instance, 94 percent said they dread meetings, yet 45 percent of innovators said they spend more than half the day in meetings. Clearly, anything we can do to make meetings more enjoyable will be a game changer.

Four primary themes predominated. They are:

  • We are optimistic. Most people think that technology advances will lead to more jobs, not mass unemployment. Plus they think that machines will free us from boring tasks and give us more time to focus on the bigger picture.
    Supporting findings:

    • Almost all workers (95 percent) said they believe AI can improve work tasks such as scheduling meetings, taking notes, or typing documents and emails.
    • Six in 10 workers expressed optimism, saying they believe technology advances will lead to more jobs.
    • When asked how a virtual assistant would benefit their team, more than half said it would increase productivity (57 percent) and focus (51 percent).
  • We are OK with machines being part of the team. Bots as co-workers? Bring it on. Across the board, people indicated they are OK with machines being part of the team.
    Supporting findings:

    • Six in 10 people said they want AI to do drudge work such as scheduling meetings and taking notes. Perhaps surprisingly, 39 percent of people who said they don’t trust AI indicated they would gladly hand over their least favorite tasks to AI.
    • More than half the people we surveyed said they have a human assistant at work; 82 percent of them said they would be more productive if they also had a virtual assistant. When asked how satisfied they were at work, half the people with human assistants said they were very satisfied. Only 32 percent of those with no human assistants said they were very satisfied. This suggests that giving workers virtual assistants could boost job satisfaction and even happiness.
    • We described a scenario in which a bot would attend a meeting, discern the topics discussed, and offer its analysis. Nine in 10 people expressed interest in or excitement about the idea. Very few said they were “terrified” or not interested.
    • We asked how they would feel if “the next time you walk into your office, your computer recognizes you, knows that you have a call starting soon, asks you: ‘Would you like me to join you to your call now?’ and then takes the action (assuming you say yes).” Fewer than 1 in 10 described it as “creepy” or “disturbing.” The rest chose terms such as “productive,” “cool,” “smart,” “savvy,” or “awesome.”
    • Eight in 10 people said they want bots to take an active role in conference calls by learning to tell the difference between a barking dog and the presenter and then removing noise.
    • Sixty-two percent of all workers expect talking to virtual assistants will eventually fully replace typing; 3 in 10 expect we’ll toss the keyboards in the next five years. Read more
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