According to the data released by the Office of Advocacy and Census Bureau there are nearly 29.6 million small businesses in the United States in 2008 and majority of these businesses turned into clients for virtual assistants. The same report states that on an average about 600,000 new businesses open up each year in United States that contributes to the positive outlook for a career as well as business opportunity for virtual assistant services. In a normal sense or parlance, Virtual Assistant or VA is defined as a highly skilled independent professional who remotely provides administrative, technical and or creative business support services.
The office of the virtual assistant consists of remote work environment equipped with the latest telecommunication links and equipment with basic office furniture that too without a fixed office space. These VA’s work from their own offices and have rich experience of working previously in the field of administration, information technology, project management, real estate, event planning and other multiple career/office functions.
The virtual assistants as a business model was first introduced in the mid 90’s by General Magic, which was an offshoot of Apple’s paradigm project led by Marc Porat. Virtual Assistant players are now working on fourth generation virtual assistants that are capable of communicating in an even more human like pattern by not only just understanding the language but also anticipating the user needs. The fourth generation VA’s are now cloud based capable of processing large amounts of data by relying on five technological building blocks such as Speech Recognition or SR, Natural Language Processing or NLP, User Profiling, Search & Recommendation and Avatar Visualization. Therefore, it can be said that VA services are here to stay to help organizations to tackle with their various business needs.