Hoglund said that outside of call centers, companies typically begin using AI for internal employee-support functions.
Avanade helped a large mining company roll out new Microsoft Office 365 technology to its 60,000 employees. Knowing that internal IT support calls would spike with so many end users experiencing a new system, the client had Avanade create an AI-powered bot to answer questions about the new technology and resolve problems without human intervention.
"The AI was able to handle over 20 percent of the incidents that arose and 80 percent of the service requests," he said. "We have created a similar bot for our internal use at Avanade, which covers much more than just IT support and have found that it is helping with employee engagement as they get their questions answered at any time of day and not just when the IT, HR or other departments are open."
Within a few years humans and AI will become one collaborative intelligence team, said Dr. Cheemin Bo-Linn, co-chair of Women Corporate Directors of Silicon Valley and CEO and president of Peritus Partners, an analytics-based marketing IT consultancy. "Our DNA programs us to want to put people on problems. We need to widen our focus and accept that machines are better at some things."
A Microsoft spokeswoman said digital assistants for consumers and enterprise use are still in the early stages of innovation and development, and the technology will continue to evolve and get better over time.
"We see great value and promise for digital assistants in the workplace, and that is what drives a lot of our product decisions and vision for Cortana," she said. The spokeswoman said imagine a scenario where a client is meeting with a sales team to discuss how to make sure they finish strong that quarter. Cortana can provide insights into deals that are at risk and then reach out to a nearby human expert with the expertise to help.
"At the start of the 20th century, silent black-and-white filmmaking was cutting-edge," Gartner's Sicular said. "Those involved in its earliest days could not have imagined that film would have sound and color in the 1930s. The future of AI will be different than what we can imagine now, but sound and color are coming."
Those sounds and colors hopefully will not make it to the office bathroom stall, but watch out for your desk and conference-room console.
—By Joe D'Allegro, special to CNBC.com