Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

State of the Art


Intelligent assistants are an increasingly commonplace class of information systems spanning a broad range of form and complexity. But what characterizes an intelligent assistant, and how do we design better assistants? In the paper, the authors contribute to scientific research in the domain of intelligent assistants in three steps, each building on the previous. First, they investigate the historical context of assistance as human work. By examining qualitative studies regarding the work of human assistants, the authors inductively derive concepts crucial to modeling the context of assistance. This analysis informs the second step, in which they develop a conceptual typology of intelligent assistants using 111 published articles. This typology explicates the characteristics (what or how) of intelligent assistants and their use context (who or which). In the third and final step, the authors utilize this typology to shed light on historical trends and patterns in design and evaluation of intelligent assistants, reflect on missed opportunities, and discuss avenues for further exploration.