06 Nov 2018
By Tom Sime, Managing Director, Exchange Communications.
Voice technology has undoubtedly proved to be a huge success in the consumer market.
It’s driven a significant behaviour change for brands with a growing number of Brits happy to use voice-operated devices – from Amazon Echo, to Apple’s Siri, and Ask Google – for the likes of shopping, checking the news, listening to music, and more.
Stateside, more than 43 million Americans now own a smart speaker, and the odds are that if you don’t own one here in the UK, then you know someone that does.
In fact, it’s thought that 50 per cent of searches will be voice-powered come 2020, and marketers have had to seriously consider how best to utilise the potential of what has been dubbed ‘the next major disruptor in advertising’ with its power to significantly shape consumption patterns.
However, while voice may be increasingly ubiquitous in the UK consumer space, is it really the next big thing? I’m not fully convinced.
One issue with voice-activated search, and it remains unresolved, is that the result is a solitary answer and not the endless list of ranked options that traditional web searches elicit. As a society, we rarely want a single answer – we want options, particularly when it comes to locating the best deal online, and accusations surrounding fair competition will inevitably rear their head.
There are undoubtedly also risks presented by voice. Security is a constant challenge with manufacturers’ security protocols having to be continually updated as hackers are able to attack these products in a very sophisticated manner.
Where I believe voice excels most is in enhancing customer service offerings. In the business space, it can help drive heightened customer service levels through simple to use self-service options that are quick, efficient, and accurate.
We use voice technology across all of our telephony solutions currently so are already invested in the technology and benefits for businesses and customers.
Voice-activated technologies will be at the heart of the smart office where Internet of Things devices will transform how enterprise environments are managed and controlled.
On a day to day basis, it’s thought that voice technology will enable intelligent smart products to actually participate in meetings, while performing such tasks as interjecting facts and answering questions. It will also be able to record meetings, before actioning agenda items and sending meeting summaries.
So what does business need to do to maximise the technology? Companies must increase customer adoption and buy in to voice technology in order to reap the full benefits.
There’s also much more to come in terms of its potential.
The natural evolution of voice technology is in the smart buildings arena where it could become one of the main communication methods, in turn underpinning smart cities.
Voice technologies will certainly be a big part of all our futures, but perhaps not quite in the consumer-orientated ways that we think.
Instead, its greatest influence will be on the enterprise space, transforming how business people communicate, interact, and share data.