Nowadays, it isn’t surprising to hear someone speak to someone that isn’t there. We ask Alexa for the weather and to turn the temperature down on the thermostat. Then, we ask Siri what our schedule for the day is and to call people. We are connected now more than ever using our voice and voice interface technology. I can’t imagine doing things manually anymore! It’s truly the future.
Gartner estimates that 30 percent of our interactions with technology will be through conversations with smart machines by the end of this year. Now, one in six US adults own a voice-activated smart speaker or device—I’m sure that number will continue to rise as well. And although we are already seeing the benefits of this in our homes, what could voice interface technology do for our business?
Voice Interface Technology is the Future of Business
When you think about voice technology right now, you think about the simple tasks. You think about how easy it is to send a text or play your favorite song. What isn’t as commonplace is the way voice interface technology is changing the business world.
Take a moment to think about your next business meeting. What if you could gather recent survey results without ever opening a laptop? What if your voice could connect you to team members at another location? How much more streamlined could your meeting and other projects get? And as exciting as that is, it is only the beginning.
I think in the next five years, businesses will be driven by these tiny machines. Speaking to Alexa for business will be as natural as doing something yourself. Voice interface technology will free employees up to work on more important things like anything that addresses customer’s needs. This new form of communication, in conjunction with other technology, will push businesses further than ever before.
It’s Already Here: Businesses Taking Advantage of Voice Technology
The best part about voice interface technology is you don’t have to wait to use it. Large corporations are beginning to see the benefits of it and are making moves to make it a part of their business. Recently, Microsoft and Amazon formed a partnership to integrate Cortana and Alexa to better serve their customers and enhance their productivity. Amazon already has a current partnership with Logitech, which allows Alexa to be used in various vehicles on the market.
Synqq, a company focused on voice assistance for meetings, introduced an app last year that uses voice and natural language processing to add notes and calendar entries without typing them in manually. Talk about your business meeting productivity! But, these cases don’t stop there. Some companies are creating their own voice-driven software and hardware to meet the demands of the field.
The startup Roxy built its own software focused on hospitality. For companies that don’t want to hand their customer’s information over to Amazon or Google, Roxy allows them to maintain control over their own customer interactions. These solutions empower businesses to take interaction into their own hands, instead of always relying on the big wigs to do it first.
The issues are spread across all industries in the business world. Banking and finance company JP Morgan is using Alexa to provide research and analytics reports to their customers. And Capital One Financial Corporation is the first bank to offer services through Alexa to its customers to assist them with banking from where they are.
The opportunities for using voice recognition and assistance technology are truly endless. Now, we must shift our focus to how businesses will need to prepare.
Preparing for Voice in Business
Businesses will need to make some necessary changes in their processes to take advantage of voice interface technology. Businesses will need to open their mind up to changes in technology in their brick and mortar locations and have a strategy for implementation and transformation. Budgets may need to shift to make room for voice technology to become a part of daily business. Digital transformation requires a strategy that outlines all of this and more, including the purchase of technology and improvements.
In addition to mentally preparing for change, businesses might also need to make some physical changes to offices. Each office will need to be outfitted to handle a voice-activated device. It might be smart to work with an integrator to ensure that devices are placed in convenient locations that can hear all voices. If you have a device in a conference room, for example, you wouldn’t want it to be too far away from people at the table that it can’t hear them. You will also want to ensure that connecting more devices in your office won’t slow down your overall connectivity. There are a few things to consider before jumping into the deep end with this technology.
As a business owner, voice interface technology will open a Pandora’s box of opportunity. Other organizations are already taking advantage and gaining a competitive edge in the market. To keep up, you will need to prepare your business by making room for new tech, working with an integrator to answer all of your questions and adding voice interface technology to your digital transformation strategy. As voice becomes the catalyst of choice for search and communication, your business must follow suit.
The original version of this article was first published on Forbes.