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The rise of digital voice assistants and how it impacts your business.

By: Damian HamerTechnology Sales

While voice technology is still considered to be in its nascent stages, it is already apparent that it is a force to be reckoned with in the near future. With tech vendors launching their voice-based assistants, consumers now have an option to use voice commands to perform actions that would usually require touch. The rise of voice-based technologies such as Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, Siri, and Bixby is causing a shift in consumer behavior, and companies would do well to adapt if they want to remain relevant.

Deloitte Global notes that smart speakers, or ‘internet-connected speakers with integrated digital voice assistants,’ are the fastest-growing connected device category worldwide in 2019 with total industry worth valued at US$7 billion, compared to just US$4.3 billion in 2018.

“The big technology companies are competing hard to be the “voice of the consumer” by making their digital assistant the main way people do everything: play a song, find a movie, buy groceries, and turn down the heat in their homes. While digital assistants are not quite there yet, they may be very soon,” said Jeff Loucks, Deloitte Executive Director.

This paradigm shift entails massive adjustments for businesses that want to get ahead of the game. McKinsey suggests that companies should figure out how best to ‘voicify’ their business, and consider the technology’s four main value propositions: voice as digital identity, hands-free controller, service aggregator, and source of insight. However, to ‘voicify’ a business is no small feat. “The hardest part of enabling voice capabilities is that you’re actually building a product, service, and content platform — for that you need to think like a tech company,” said Nelee Sim, McKinsey Digital Labs Executive Design Director.

Growing demand for voice-enabled systems is opening up doors to new customer experience (CX) technologies that can help businesses understand and connect with their customers on a deeper level. “Emerging technology like neural text-to-speech leverages machine learning tools to turn customer interactions such as contact center calls or virtual assistants into engaging and human-like experiences designed to reflect a brand’s persona. With KPMG’s latest Annual Experience Excellence Report revealing Australians rank personalization as the key driver of brand advocacy, organizations should be thinking seriously about how they can invest in this next-generation technology to create memorable customer connections,” said Phillip Zammit, AWS’s Head of Cognitive CX for APAC.

Voice holds so much potential for any business, but just like any new technology, it comes with challenges, one of which is in the area of human capital. We’ve seen waves of digital disruption affect jobs and introduce new skills necessary for a role, and the advent of voice technology is no different. 

“UI/UX designers, front-end engineers and, in some cases, mobile engineers have been trained to think and work visually, but these skills will not necessarily transfer to an aural and conversation-based space...Companies can immediately tune their HR departments to screen applicants for relevant experience and training: conversation-based strategy, voice logic and audio design. Look for AI problem-solving and psychology backgrounds. Consider the emerging voice-consultancy sector to partner on a voice strategy, or to advise on hiring forward-focused talent,” said B.G. Fisher, MagicCo’s founder and Chief Executive Officer. 

Needless to say, building voice capabilities entails great intricacies in terms of creating and modifying a company’s technology, product offerings, overall strategy, and human capital. It is a tedious task, but one that will most likely pay off if done right. “What matters right now is for companies to test voice-first technology for themselves and begin to learn what works for their business and what doesn’t. Start by assigning an internal champion or hiring an external partner to develop a pilot voice experience for your organization. That initial experience can then be discussed internally, shared externally at conferences, and built upon for future growth,” said Bradley Metrock, Score Publishing’s Chief Executive Officer in a Harvard Business Review article.

Voice is here to stay for good, and turning a blind eye to it is like setting your business up for failure. The technology is promising, the industry growth is undeniable, and the market is ready. Companies that lay the groundwork now will definitely reap generous rewards in time. After all, we all have to start somewhere.                                             


Sources:
https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/technology/technology-media-and-telecom-predictions/smart-speaker-voice-computing.html
https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/technology/digital-media-trends-consumption-habits-survey/summary.html
https://medium.com/digital-mckinsey/how-to-voicify-your-business-c393b54759db
https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2019/11/14/what-the-rise-of-voice-technology-means-for-your-business/#1d438c011022
https://hbr.org/2019/04/your-company-needs-a-strategy-for-voice-technology-2


​​Damian Hamer has a strong understanding of niche skills required across the UC, collaboration, datacentre virtualization and cloud computing space. He specialises in executive search at leadership level, particularly in the recruitment of CEO / MDs, COOs, sales directors, services directors, and senior commercial roles. Connect with Damian.