Interactions are fundamental for successful relationships and stable cooperation in a business-to-business market. The main assumption in research on interactions, so obvious that usually not stated by researchers, is that they are set between humans. The development of artificial intelligence forces the re-examination of this assumption. This paper aims to conceptualize business virtual assistants (BVAs), a type of intelligent agent, as either a boundary object or an actor within business interactions.
Reference is made to the literature on business interactions, boundary objects and identity attribution to problematize the process of interpretation through which BVA obtains an identity. The ARA model and the model of interaction process is used to create a theoretical framework.
This paper contributes to the literature on business interactions, and to the core of the IMP discussion, in three aspects. The first provides a framework to understand the phenomenon of an artificial entity as an interlocutor in business interactions. While doing that a new type of entity, BVA, is introduced. The second contribution is the exploration and augmentation of the concept of a business actor. The third calls attention to BVA as a boundary object. These issues are seen as essential to move forward the discussion about the meaning of business interaction in the near future.
This paper conceptualizes the presence of a new entity – BVA – in the business landscape.
The authors sincerely thank the CEOs of the Evie and Kono companies for sharing their knowledge and experience on BVAs. The authors are also grateful for the insightful comments from reviewers from the IMP Forum Seminar in Rennes and the two anonymous reviewers from the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing. This project was financed within grant Regional Initiative for Excellence programme of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of Poland, years 2019-2022, grant no. 004/RID/2018/19, financing 3,000,000 PLN.
Kot, M. and Leszczyński, G. (2020), "The concept of intelligent agent in business interactions: is virtual assistant an actor or a boundary object?", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-10-2018-0291Download as .RIS
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