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Intelligent virtual agents predicted as first point of contact in 2014, reports - Virtual assistants & virtual, the leading business and research community on humanlike conversational artificial intelligence, welcomes a new forecast from independent analyst firm CCM Benchmark that virtual agent implementations will be an industry standard in 3 to 5 years.

CCM Benchmark surveyed 57 global ecommerce leaders in Q1 2011 on their plans for deploying virtual agents as part of their customer service strategy. This group predicts a 100% increase in virtual agents in 2011, with that number skyrocketing to 400% by 2014. Virtual agents are services such as an automated, intelligent, virtual human on a website, assisting consumers during purchases or for customer service in natural language, therefore also often referred as virtual assistants.

In addition to the growth predictions, the majority of respondents cited use of the virtual agent for “right channeling” purposes as the most promising emerging application. Integration of the AI avatars with live chat (66%) and use of the virtual assistant as the point of first contact for all online customer interactions (56%) gained the most interest.

This study meets findings from VirtuOz 2011 user conference, at which 75% of respondents agreed that virtual agents will be used as the first point of contact for online sales and service by 2014.

Additional value drivers highlighted in the study include:

  • 67% note eDeflection from higher cost customer service channels as a key benefit of VAs.
  • 51% believe that VAs will increase their “customer requests” handling capacity.
  • 36% believe virtual agents will provide insight into user trends to determine and optimize new service issues as they arise.
  • 33% believe that VAs will address search limitations.

“Ecommerce vendors serve on-line savvy consumers who are demanding more sophisticated self-service tools that offer a richer and more satisfying customer experience,” said Steve Adams, CEO and president of VirtuOz, a leading provider of virtual agents for online customer service. also noted a steep rise of interest in the application of virtual assistants in customer services. The website lists all implementations of virtual humans across the world in three main categories: customer services, e-learning and gaming. The application in the customer service area is growing fast; in 2010, 95% of registered implementations were related to customer service and e-commerce.

According to Erwin Van Lun, Futurist, CEO and Founder of, “This research matches both a report lately published by IT analyst firm Gartner and our own market growth forecasts. The population of virtual assistants is growing fast, and aside from their numbers, we expect that the nature of VAs will change. We anticipate that any virtual agent will evolve gradually into a brand agent over the next decade. It starts with assisting, but they will gradually grow to be first points of contact. Large corporations are now taking the lead, but small and medium enterprises are expected to follow.”

An intelligent user interface growth will tremendously change our interaction with computers. Instead of us learning how to operate a computer, a computer is now learning how to operate us. Computers will transfer their knowledge in natural dialogues, sometimes even without written text, just like before the invention of the alphabet where all knowledge was transferred through spoken language. The world of 2020 will just feel more natural.

For more information on virtual agents, visit the page at:

About is the leading community on humanlike conversation artificial intelligence, such as virtual agents, virtual assistants, virtual humans, chat bot and avatars. With more than 10,000 members, academics, businesses and individuals, it helps to advance the exciting field of developing virtual humans.

For more information, please visit:

For media contact, please contact:
Erwin Van Lun, CEO and founder,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands Tel: +31 621 567 657
Sydney, Australia Tel: +61 28007 4744
Blackthorn House
Northminster Business Park
York, YO26 6QW
United Kingdom

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