Voice assistants have slowly entered people’s lives. Advances in natural language processing have made this technology increasingly available to all people, but are companies prepared to take advantage of this new technological trend?
Currently, one in five Google searches is performed by voice, according to data from the same company. This figure could reach 50% by 2020, according to the forecasts of the digital consulting firm ComScore. The popularity of voice assistants will grow in the coming years, to the point that it is estimated that there will be 7.5 billion devices that have an assistant integrated, according to a study by the telecommunications consultant Ovum.
Artificial intelligence expert David Dias says that voice is the new interface. David Dias is the director in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Advanced Analytics for Latin America of the multinational technology consultancy Accenture.
David Dias, Director of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Advanced Accenture Analysis for Brazil and Latin America, does not like to talk about the future. But when in front of everyone’s eyes, the executive does not doubt pointing out: the voice is the new user experience. From the hand of artificial intelligence, the time has come for voice technology.
“Anyone who is not in this business for the next two years will be out of the game. The voice will be the new shopping and relationship channel,“ says the expert, taking out his mobile phone and connecting to the voice services of Bradesco, Banco do Brasil, Luiza magazine and Accenture’s My Holidays.
Contrary to popular belief, this game will not only involve large companies. “This is happening very fast. There are already many cases in the country,” says Dias, in an interview for the Brazilian digital magazine NewVoice.
Today, companies are increasingly digital and use different channels to talk with consumers. Artificial intelligence can enhance the capabilities of chatbots by analyzing user conversations so that they can serve as inspiration for new products and services. In real-time, it is possible to identify when a product is not working in the market.
In this way, companies can act much faster when problems are evident, all in real-time. Before, it could take three months to a year to take action on an issue that the customer started saying earlier this year. Through AI, both large companies and startups can listen to their customers. This shift leads to the relationship beyond a mere service, and companies can create a relationship with the customer.
Artificial intelligence is already helping to improve bots, finding what the best dialogue and conversation sequences are. The devices can automatically detect the problems that the customer asks, and in this way, the customer service can automatically detect what the issues are and see what their interest is. Companies now have the opportunity to move towards customer focus.
The voice is the new user experience. In this, Google Assitant has an immense advantage. In a test of 800 questions conducted by Loup Ventures, Google’s voice assistant obtained a success of 88%, while Siri (Apple) gained 75%, Alexa (Amazon) achieved 73%, and Cortana only received 64%. For David Dias, the applications will disappear shortly, and the interfaces will be by voice.
This affirmation is a risky forecast and remembers when they predicted the disappearance of books in a few years. Although, without a doubt, people will feel more and more comfortable using voice commands.
In any case, it is a fact that voice assistants will be an essential business channel in the next two years. David Dias says that who is not there, will be outside.
“The voice will be the new channel of purchases and relationships. So I only give two years for everyone to be inside.”
The use of this solution is growing in large companies and also in small ones. After all, the voice is our most fundamental and primitive communication tool. However, user adoption is still missing, a minor problem for David Dias. “We adapt to technology. Before I had to find the keyword to search on Google, now the voice is the new interface, and it will have a fast adoption speed because the voice is basic. It will be the end of the keyboard. The computer dies due to the mobile. Anyway, the voice is portable,” says Dias.
A growing business with few competitors
The business will increase. According to the IDC think tank, companies invested $ 24 billion in artificial intelligence systems during 2019. Currently, the most famous attendees are Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Bixby (Samsung).
The popularity of the Android operating system has given Google a considerable advantage over its competitors. In January 2019, Google Assistant was already available for 1000 million devices around the world. In less than a year, this figure has doubled.
The Amazon wizard integration does not include mobile devices, only other home devices. Even so, the company has managed to distribute 100 million devices that are compatible with Echo speakers.
Alexa is the most popular device among technology manufacturers. Currently, 20,000 devices are compatible with this assistant, twice as many as 10,000 devices compatible with Google Assitant at the end of 2018.
Bixby, from Samsung, has the most limited language availability. Until a few months ago, it had only been available in Korean and English. However, it has integrated Spanish, Italian, French, and German in these devices recently.
Prospects for the coming years
According to the forecasts of the global research firm Gartner, virtual assistants will also leave the house to be part of the work tools. In 2021, 25% of workers will use a virtual assistant daily, while 25% of employees’ interactions with applications will be through voice commands in 2023, although this year the figure has not reached 3 %.
Financial services and insurance have shown the most significant interest in voice assistants so far.
Sales of smart speakers saw a boom last year. These will increase by 197% during the third quarter of 2018, representing an amount of 22.7 million units, according to Strategy Analytics data. At the end of 2018, there were already 100 million speakers that were in homes.
These devices will be an increasingly important sales channel. By 2021, people and businesses are estimated to spend $ 3.5 billion on these products. In terms of sales, Amazon beats Google. By Q3 of 2018, the eCommerce giant controlled 32% of the quota, while Google was in second place with 23%.
China is the country that leads to speaker sales. The eMarketer market research company expects that by the end of 2019 in China, there will already be 85 million speakers installed. The United States follows the Asian giants with a forecast of 75 million devices in 2019. The same consultant calculates that by the end of 2019, one in four users will have one of these devices.
The typical user of voice assistants is a man between 20 and 29 years old with a full-time job.
Why consider voice assistants?
Voice assistants have become everyday devices inside homes. 71% of users use their tools at least once a day, while 44% do so several times during the day. 76% have increased the frequency of use in the last year.
The GFK consultancy calculates that these assistants have had an increase in use by 30%. This increase is mainly due to the compatibility that these devices have with household appliances such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, ovens, or light bulbs.
Seven out of ten users use their voice assistants to listen to music, while a similar portion uses them to check the weather forecast. These are the most common uses, according to Adobe Digital Insights. However, users are increasingly confident to delegate other tasks, such as reminders or reading news.
Challenges for marketing campaigns
Voice assistants also represent a challenge for new marketing campaigns. The maker of Philadelphia cream cheese obtains an example of success. The brand partnered with Amazon to realize that American consumers loved cheesecakes. With this in mind, a voice command was created that showed fifteen simple cheesecake recipes that users could follow while cooking. The strategy was a success, and the company increased its sales by 95%.
Companies should think about SEM campaigns that can answer the most common questions of consumers, who seek more complete statements than those offered so far by the most common search services.
These changes will mean a field of opportunities for outsourcing companies that have the knowledgeable and creative staff to develop applications for voice devices, as well as campaigns that increase sales without being invasive.
Companies also should consider compatibility with the most used assistants; in this case, Google, Siri, and Alexa. This competition will be a battle to get the word first.