Imagine having an electronic device or assistant capable of saving valuable time in your day and able to make phone calls to schedule appointments. Imagine having a computer that sounds like a human making these appointments. Imagine having a computer being able to troubleshoot conversations and transferring calls to a help desk if they cannot provide proper communication or answer specific questions. The Google Assistant known as Google Duplex may just be your answer.
Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998. They were both Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California. Together they built a search engine, first named Backrub, while set up in their dorm rooms. Later, Backrub became known as Google, originating from the misspelled word googol, which is the number 1, followed by 100 zeros. This name was chosen to signify that the search engine could provide large quantities of information (Google.com, 2018). The name also reflected their mission, which was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (Thompson, 2018). Although the domain name for Google was registered on September 15, 1997, it was not until September 4, 1998 that it became incorporated, when Sun co-founder, Andy Bechtolsheim wrote Larry and Sergey a check for $100,000. At this time, the company moved from the dorms to a garage of a friend in Menlo Park, California. This garage was home to large, bulky desktop computers and a ping pong table along with a very colorful, bright blue carpet to complete the scene. Craig Silverstein, another Ph.D. student and friend became the first employee of Google (Google.com, 2018).
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Soon after this, in March of 1999, Google moved to Palo Alto, California. In 2012, Google generated $50 billion in annual revenue for the first time, up from $38 billion the previous year. Today, Google employees more than 85,000 people in 50 different countries. In fact, Google has been ranked first on the Fortune magazine’s list of best companies to work for in 2007, 2008, and 2012 and fourth in 2009 and 2010. With Googles philosophy principles including “you can make money without being evil,” “you can be serious without a suit,” and “work should be challenging, and the challenge should be fun,” it is no surprise that Google also was nominated to be the world’s most attractive employer to graduating students in the Universum Communications talent attraction index (Google.com, 2018). Google is used by billions of people globally. This rapid growth has created a chain of products, including Google search, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, Gmail, Google, Google Drive, Google+, Google Allo, Duo, Hangouts, Google Translate, Google Maps, Waze, Google Earth, Street View, YouTube, Google Keep, Google Photos, Google Chrome, Google OS and most recently, Google Duplex, which is still in trial.
Google’s diversity report in 2017, reported that of the over 85,000 employees, 31 percent are women with the predominant ethnicity being white and Asian. Within leadership roles, 25 percent were held by women. Google uses a hierarchical system when hiring employees. They are split into six hierarchies based on experience. Positions range from entry-level data center workers to managers and experienced engineers. To motivate employees, Google implemented the Innovation Time Off policy, which encourages engineers to spend 20 percent of their work time on projects that interest them. Some of Googles products originated from these individual activities (Google.com, 2018).
Google’s headquarters, often referred to as the Googleplex, due to being made up of a complex of buildings, is designed to engage the employees. With the lobby decorated with a piano, lava lamps, old server clusters, and a projection of search queries on the all, to hallways full of exercise balls and bicycles, Google is sure to please. In addition, the campus houses a workout room, locker rooms, a massage room, washers and dryers, video games, table football, a pool table, and ping pong. In addition to activity rooms, there are snack rooms filled with various foods and drinks, with an emphasis on nutrition (Google.com, 2018). Having followed their mission and vision since their start up, Google has become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Googles mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” while its vision statement is “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.” By following their mission and vision statements, Google uses strategies that support business growth. Using such a generic strategy keeps Google just one step ahead of their competitors (Thompson, 2018).
Google uses Porter’s Model, also know as the differentiation generic strategy along with the intensive growth strategies of market penetration, market development, and product development which has allowed for their continued growth. This generic strategy aligns well with their intensive growth strategies. Google’s generic strategy allows them to offer products to almost everyone throughout the world. Being a highly innovated company, Google is able to produce unique products, keeping the company competitive. Google’s intensive growth strategy is dependent on being the market leader with unique products (Thompson, 2017). They can keep up with worldwide demands by being wholly dedicated to innovation. Google’s latest invention comes with some skepticism.
Many companies have a long-standing goal to create human-computer conversation that mimic human conversations. In recent years, companies have found some success in computers having the ability to understand and reply with natural speech. Google has had the most success with this. They recently announced the Google Duplex, a virtual helper which conducts natural conversations to perform real world tasks over the phone. It uses complex artificial intelligence to dial a phone number, conduct a voice conversation, and also sound convincingly human (Rawes, 2019). Although this program is limited to specific tasks and can schedule certain types of appointments right now, it is bound to grow and be able to do more over time. This program can carry on natural, human-like conversations in specific situations with a human being who cannot tell that a robot is on the other end of the phone (Crooks, 2018).
The Google Duplex can save you time and take tasks off your plate when you don’t have the time. This program can make restaurant reservations, schedule hair appointments and retrieve holiday hours of business operations. All the user must do is provide a date and time for the reservations and this assistant will do the rest. If a business has an online reservation service, the assistant will use that to book your reservation, if not, they will call the business on your behalf. The Google Duplex can understand long sentences, complex sentences, and fast speech and then is able to respond naturally, as any human would do. This allows for those on the other end of the phone to carry on a phone conversation naturally as they do with any other person. There is no need to adapt to a machine or robot.
The Google Duplex can carry out difficult and sophisticated conversations with the ability to complete most tasks fully autonomously, without human intervention. The computer is so human-like, it even adds ums and uhs during conversations. Google Duplex has been very successful in test domains, completing 4 out of 5 attempted calls (Nieve, 2018). If the program recognizes the task on hand cannot be complete autonomously, it signals to a human operator to complete the call by reverting the call to a Google call center (Dwoskin, 2018).
Benefits of Google Duplex can be seen for businesses and users alike. Businesses who rely on appointment bookings not yet supported by online programs can benefit from Duplex by allowing customers to book with this Google Assistant. There would prevent the company from having to purchase an online booking program and there would be no training necessary as the program would make it seem as if the employee is talking to another human. This could also reduce no shows for the company by reminding the customer about their upcoming appointment. The Duplex is also able to get business operating hours and post them on Google which could dramatically reduce calls for this information. Users find Duplex beneficial in saving time by not needing to make the phone calls themselves. The Google Duplex can also benefit users who would otherwise have accessibility issues due to language barriers and the hearing impaired (Rawes, 2018). Following is a sample conversation with Google Duplex making a restaurant reservation.
Human: This is Oren’s Hummus.
Duplex: I’m Google’s automated booking service and I’ll be recording this call.
Human: Wait, who are you?
Duplex: I’m Google’s automated booking service, calling on behalf of a client.
Human: Okay. So, what do you need?
Duplex: Do you have an available table for Sunday, um, at 7:45 p.m.?
Human: At 7:45?
Human: How many people?
Duplex: It’s for three people.
Human: For three people. Do you want a table outside or inside?
Duplex: I’m actually booking on behalf of someone else, so I’m unsure what their preference is, uh, whatever you think will be nicer for dining is fine.
Human: Okay, outside works. What’s the name?
Duplex: The first name is Jason; the last name is Smith.
Human: Okay. Is that it?
Duplex: Are we set for Sunday at 7:45 p.m.?
Human: Yes, for three people, and that will be outside.
Duplex: I really don’t know, uh, whatever you think is nicer.
Human: Okay, sounds good.
Duplex: Okay, awesome, thanks a lot (Bell, 2018).
Some have criticized the use of Duplex and expressed concerns about it. They worry about privacy, security and ethics. They question the security of have a computer calling a business and speaking to live people on the behalf of others. They question the privacy of having the call recorded without knowledge. They question the ethics of businesses thinking they are talking to a human when they are speaking to a computer. However, Google ensures that Duplex identifies itself as an automated service, recording the call on a client’s behalf (Crosman, 2018). In fact, during testing, when a business refused to be recorded, Duplex agreed to call back on an unrecorded line (Phelan, 2018).
Following its mission and vision statements through strategies that support innovation and business growth, Google has remained a competitor against others, such as Apple, Amazon and Facebook. Naming users as a major stakeholder, Google is effective in delivering value to online users by offering innovative products. Despite the company’s growth, Google’s mission and vision statement has remained the same over the years. It is recommended that their mission and vision statement should be updated to reflect the diversity and variety of their offered products.
- Bell, K. (2018). I talked to Google’s Duplex AI on the phone: Here’s what I learned. Mashable.com
- Crooks, D. (2018). Google Duplex. Web User, (451), 38.
- Crosman, P. (2018). Um-hmm, got it: The pros and cons of Google Duplex’s gift for gab – will it be bankers, or hackers, who find this humanlike voice assistant to be most useful? American Banker Magazine, (128), 7.
- Dwoskin, E. (2018). “I’m Google’s automated booking service.” Why Duplex is not introducing itself as a robot assistant. The Washington Post.
- Google.com. (2018). From the garage to the Googleplex. Retrieved fromhttps://www.google.com/about/our-story/
- Nieva, R. (2018). Google opens its human-sounding Duplex AI to public testing. Cnet.
- Phelan, D. (2018). Why Google’s Duplex phone-call bot is exciting, but needs to change. Forbes.
- Rawes, E. (2018). What is Google Duplex? Digital Trends.
- Thompson, A. (2017). Google’s generic strategy & intensive growth strategies. Panmore Institute.
- Thompson, A. (2018). Google’s mission statement and vision statement (an analysis). Panmore Institute.
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