We’ve heard a lot last month about how hackers are targeting voice, but it doesn’t seem to be deterring consumers. Gen Z and younger users in particular are huge adopters of voice and view voice as a primary means of interfacing with technology.
We decided that, with likely millions of voice-enabled devices being bought (and being used for shopping) this holiday season, it was a good idea to explore how companies have used voice and where things are going. A number of SVSG clients are actively using or are planning to use voice as part of their technology strategy for 2020.
Voice? The market’s all ears
Voice technology is in a historically unique place as an Internet-era consumer technology. It has been around for a long time, has been adopted by a large swathe of consumers, and yet it still hasn’t developed very many use cases beyond the ones it launched with.
Voice entered the consumer-tech market nine years ago in the form of Apple’s Siri (originally a 3rd party app which Apple acquired). This is just three years after the iPhone itself. Nine years. Think of the massive growth that smartphones — and, following them, tablets — saw in their first nine years. While Siri captured the imagination upon launch, it never fulfilled its promise, and is still to this day racked with problems, including acting like your drunk uncle.
The less said about Cortana, the better. Although props to Microsoft for naming it after a Halo character.
The real push in voice adoption came two years ago during the 2017 holiday shopping season, with Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo speakers, when the company sold “tens of millions” of these devices.
Fast-forward two years, and over a quarter of Americans now have a smart speaker in their home, a number that will shoot up even more after this holiday season. (Of those smart speakers currently in American homes, 61 percent are Amazon, while 24 percent is Google Smart home.)
But, despite the fact consumer interest and adoption is very high, users are still mainly using voice tech to play songs or check the weather, despite the more than 10,000 skills in Alexa’s library.
While consumer adoption has been fast, the amount of new use cases coming out has been minuscule in comparison.
But 2020 could be the year this all changes, as a number of other recent moves can help voice find its true place in enterprise and the home.
Other major moves
- Enterprise. Two big players recently announced major moves into the enterprise voice space. Both Salesforce and Oracle announced voice-assistant initiatives. Here’s Salesforce’s view, in their own words, and here’s Oracle’s.
- Cross-product integration. The Voice Interoperability Initiative, announced in September, is an agreement between 30 companies — including Amazon, Microsoft, BMW, Intel and Orange — that will allow consumers to use multiple voice services on one device.
- Internet of Things. Perhaps the most significant recent announcement in voice is that Alexa will now run on devices that have only 1MB of RAM (the former requirement was 100MB). This will significantly increase the number of voice-enabled objects in the home, enterprise and manufacturing.
More pertinent misc.
- Offline voice control is not far off (staceyoniot.com — her whole site is a great resource on voice and the Internet of Things)
- Global speech and voice market expected to reach $26.79 billion by 2025 (Business Wire)
- Using voice interfaces to make products more inclusive (Harvard Business Review)
- Voice-enabled smart speakers to reach 55% of US households by 2022 (Techcrunch)
- 7 key predictions for the future of voice assistants and AI in 2020 (dzone)
Other things of interest
- The Google Cemetery is a fun look at the average product lifespan of Google products before It kills them
- Trust this article. Top 10 IT & technology buzzwords you won’t be able to avoid In 2020 (datapine)
Voice is another technology disruption. Don’t risk getting left behind. If your company is interested in exploring voice solutions as part of your customer interactions, data analytics or hardware offerings, SVSG is here to help. Contact us here to schedule a consultation or email me at [email protected]
PS – If you are getting this newsletter from a friend, why not just subscribe?