Alexa and Siri, Meet JiLL

JiLL
Commercial real estate giant JLL, in partnership with Google, has developed an AI-based smartphone voice assistant designed for office properties.
The smartphone app, dubbed JiLL, helps employees locate and book spare desks, set up meetings with colleagues, schedule maintenance requests, send messages to coworkers and perform other work-related activities.
While millions of consumers benefit from AI-based home and smartphone assistants at home and on the go, the category of virtual enterprise assistants in the office and workplace had been missing, according to JLL.
“Consumers feel empowered in centrally managing their digital experiences at home and on the go. However, at work, simple tasks are siloed and can be frustrating.  By using JiLL, enterprises can now empower their workforces by providing an admin in their pocket,” stated Vinay Goel, JLL’s chief digital product officer, who led the effort in developing JiLL.
Employees can activate the assistant with the phrase “Hey Jill,” via text, or tapping on options.
Powered by the Google Cloud platform, JiLL can outperform Amazon and Microsoft’s attempts at designing assistants for office life because it comes from a real estate company, according to Goel.
“JiLL leverages JLL’s vast datasets about buildings, user interactions and transactions with physical spaces to provide a personalized and intelligent conversational interface that matches employees’ consumer experiences,” stated Goel.
Goel stated that he expects JiLL to become an essential platform for hundreds of skills that help employees improve their daily productivity.
“We understand that our success is linked to attracting and retaining talent,” said Jim Pazzaglia, director of Global Business Services P&G, which plans to pilot JiLL in the coming months.
“Providing digital technologies that reduce employee friction points and resemble the functionality our employees are accustomed to using outside of work helps grow our organizational productivity,” Pazzaglia stated.
The move is a natural progression from the massive adoption of smart speaker devices. Sales for smart speakers are expected to nearly quadruple to $ 17.4 billion by 2022, from $4.4 billion, according to IDC research firm.
Enhanced occupant experience stemming from voice assistant experiences from home devices and increasing requirements from enterprise customers for creating attractive workplace environment aimed at employee retention are generating significant demand for workplace voice assistance tools.
JiLL is the first of several office assistants for enterprise workplaces under-development by competitors like Amazon and Cisco and others.
Amazon has plans to introduce Echo devices for corporate environments with Alexa for Business, Google has started to integrate its assistant with its productivity and collaboration tools, and Cisco also has a Webex Assistant which can be used to book meetings.
Goel stated that JiLL has a significant competitive advantage over other digital assistants due to the company’s access to data such as office building floor plans.
“We understand teams because we understand where you sit; we understand your cost center; and we understand your organization — who you report to, who works for you,” Goel told GeekWire. “We know the floor plans, and we know where the printers are.”
Unlike Alexa or Echo, JiLL is smartphone-based, and it doesn’t require investment in hardware investment, which makes it easier to adopt at a lower cost.
The smart office assistant is being beta tested in Chicago and Menlo Park and will be available for JLL’s customers via Android and iOS mobile apps later this year.
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