By Laurence Minsky, Eric Turkington, Colleen Fahey and Will Hall

One of the important market disruptions taking place today is the ascent of voice technology. In this article, the authors argue that business enterprises should start developing their strategy for integrating voice-first technology into their operations, and propose the key steps business leaders should be taking right now in order to make voice a competitive advantage for their business.

 

“It’s okay – we’ll be fine.” These words, reportedly uttered by BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie upon the iPhone’s unveiling in 2007, did not age well.1 The iPhone’s subsequent dominance in the consumer market rapidly permeated the business world as users became accustomed to using touch keyboards, gravitated toward Apple’s superior user interface and app ecosystem, and decided they simply did not want to carry multiple devices to manage their personal and professional lives.

This now-classic tale of market disruption exhibits striking parallels to another one taking place today around the ascent of voice technology. The adoption rate of smart speakers outpaces other technologies2 even that of mobile devices largely due to low barriers to entry in pricing and the inherent usability of natural language interfaces (no manual required)3. Even if usage regularity trails the speed of device proliferation, many users are embracing voice as a daily behaviour4 and are beginning to use voice technology for increasingly complex interactions like shopping, gaming, and smart home controls. Voice tech is rapidly permeating the car, perhaps its most obviously useful context, as automobiles boast even more monthly active users (77M) than voice technology users in the home (45.7M)5.

Adoption has fueled a cycle where more data drives better performance across automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language processing (NLP) within voice AI, enabling humans not only to be better heard, but to be better understood as well. 

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About the Authors

Laurence Minsky is Associate Professor, Columbia College Chicago; his most recent book co-authorships include Global Brand Management, Audio Branding, and The Activation Imperative.

Eric Turkington is VP of Strategic Partnerships at RAIN, a pioneer and market leader in Voice & AI. Prior, he worked in product innovation and, earlier, in communications and digital strategy for leading companies.

Colleen Fahey is U.S. Managing Director of Sixième Son, the world’s largest audio branding agency, and a coauthor of Audio Branding: Using Sound to Build Your Brand.

Will Hall is the Chief Creative Officer at RAIN. He also serves on multiple advisory boards on voice and emerging technology and is also an adjunct professor of Design at NYU (New York University).

References
1. McNish, Jacquie & Silcoff, Sean (2016), Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, New York: Flatiron Books
2. XAPP Media (2019), “Smart Speakers Are Showing the Fastest Technology Adoption in History,” Consumer Adoption, xappmedia.com https://xappmedia.com/consumer-adoption-voice/ Accessed: 28 July 2019
3. “Activate (2019), Activate Tech & Media Outlook, activate.com, https://www.slideshare.net/ActivateInc/activate-tech-media-outlook-2019/1 Accessed 3 August 2019
4. Voicebot (2019), Voicebot Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report, March 2019 Voicebot.ai,  https: / / voicebot.ai / wp-content / uploads / 2019 / 03 / smart _ speaker _ consumer _ adoption _ report _ 2019 . pdf Accessed 3 August 2019
5. Voicebot, (2019) Voicebot In-Car Voice Assistant Adoption Report, January 2019, Voicebot.ai,  https://voicebot.ai/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/in-car_voice_assistant_consumer_adoption_report_2019_voicebot.pdf
6. Research Briefs (2019), How Big Tech Is Battling To Own The $49B Voice Market, CB Insights, https://www.cbinsights.com/research/facebook-amazon-microsoft-google-apple-voice/ Accessed: 7 August 2019
7. Blue Horseshoe Solutions, Inc. (2019, Warehouse Voice Enablement, Microsoft AppSource,https:appsource.microsoft.co/en-usproduct/dynamics-365-for-finance-and-operations/bluehorseshoe.48b0b380-5ccf-4cbf-9051-8a39a7321aaa?tab=Overview Accessed: 4
8. Ross, Casey (2019), Wired into the walls’: Voice-recognition system promises to automate data entry during office visits, STAT, https://www.statnews.com/2019/03/04/voice-recognition-automates-data-entry-during-office-visits/ vAccessed: 4 August 2019
9. Zebra Technologies (2017), Quality Drives a Smarter Plant Floor: 2017 Manufacturing Vision Study, zebra.com, https://www.zebra.com/content/dam/zebra_new_ia/en-us/solutions-verticals/vertical-solutions/manufacturing/white-papers/2017-manufacturing-vision-study-en-emea.pdf Accessed: 4 August 2019
10. Bort, Julie (2019), Amazon’s Alexa for Business reportedly earned less than $300,000 in its first year as customers worry about privacy and struggle with functionality, Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon – alexa – business-first-year-revenue-2019-7 Accessed: 7 August 2019
11. Warren, Tom (2019), “Microsoft unveils new Cortana app for Windows 10,” The Verge, https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/26/8931954/microsoft-cortana-app-windows-10-features-announcement Accessed: 4 August 2019
12. Santos, Jerome (2019), Apple May Offer SiriOS Soon, Analysts Say, International Business Times, https://www.ibtimes.com/apple-may-offer-sirios-soon-analysts-say-2807817 Accessed: 4 August 2019
13. Peter, Spiceworks (2018), “Data snapshot: AI Chatbots and Intelligent Assistants in the Workplace,” spiceworks, https://community.spiceworks.com/blog/2964-data-snapshot-ai-chatbots-and-intelligent-assistants-in-the-workplace?utm_campaign=item&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=blog Accessed: 4 August 2019

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