You may have noticed digital personal assistants starting to be mentioned more in the press, but why are they important and why has Samsung acquired Viv (Siri team's latest start up)?

When we think about the most natural interface for a human, obviously talking with another human is the easiest and most intuitive approach. This is the original and most used interface for humans to communicate with each other, soif you can make a personal assistant interact in this way it can reduce the friction of dealing with a small device or multi-tasking whilst driving, walking, running etc.

However the real value of a personal digital assistant is that once it gets really good at its job (learning your preferences, contacts, calendar, favourite brands, birthdays etc) then it becomes incredibly sticky. Does a consumer want to switch to a new assistant and have to retrain from scratch? If you can also have this knowledge spread across all your devices and apps it starts to get really powerful.

A really well done personal assistant can replace Google for search and become the prime interface to the digital world. For this reason the big players have to take this space very seriously, which is why they are willing to spend significant money on internal projects and making large acquisitions.

While many of these solutions are currently using voice as the mode of interaction, in the future they will be accessible or reach you through, voice, text, email and any other interface you chose. Just like the human equivalent, they will pick the best option for each situation i.e reading texts you receive whilst you are driving.

I believe we are still a generation or two away from really seeing the value these assistants can provide, but you can see the trend and the improvement with each generation. The potential is endless, especially if they can start to automate tasks and provide the user with the information they need, when they need it - like the very best human assistant. When this happens, having the best digital assistant helping you across all modes of digital interaction will become the key differentiator in hardware, software and lead service provider selection. Hence the next critical battlefront for the big internet and device players.