Alexa, what’s the future of voice technology?

Krunal Shah

Aug 20, 2020 | 10 min read

future of voice technology

1 in every 6 Americans is now using a smart speaker almost daily. Besides making people’s personal lives easier, voice tech has become instrumental for businesses to come out on top in today’s cut-throat competitive market. Google predicts that 62% of smart speaker owners are likely to make purchases through voice search. No wonder then, businesses and entrepreneurs around the world are constantly ascertaining the top voice technology trends in 2020. In this article, we explore the future of voice and the possibilities of paid voice search in the future.

First of all, what is causing the shift towards voice?

Voice technology is an interesting innovation in itself as it quickly adjusts to the changing user demands. More importantly, the technology is available for virtually everyone as more and more electronic devices incorporate it in the form of voice assistants. With so many brilliant Alexa Skills and Google Actions commands available now, a voice assistant is a temptation not many can resist.

“People like easy. This is the reason Amazon stays on top, and also the reason we like Uber/Lyft. If we can make a process like lowering our A/C while also playing music and asking a question easy, the shift will naturally happen.”
- Shearly Reyes, Director of Digital Platforms, Ferreys & Co.

People love it also because it feeds their innate desire for connection. Voice assistants have the ability to keep the users engaged in conversations and other fun activities.

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Another reason for the increasing popularity of voice is its easy accessibility. Voice assistants and the associated devices can be accessed anywhere and at any time – be it your living room or office conference room.  

On top of that, almost all voice technologies are powered by Artificial Intelligence which helps them understand and learn patterns. This feature automatically makes them smarter and eliminates the need for developing specific custom applications.

Voice assistants are immensely beneficial for businesses too

Voice assistants beneficial for businesses

Voice technology trends are a boon not only for consumers but also for businesses. Some of the most significant advantages of integrating the voice tech into the business organization are as follows:

  • The use of smart devices with voice assistants improves the state of information sharing. Each and every employee is able to easily access the data which makes all the levels of business more efficient.
  • Documentation and note-taking have become easier than ever.
  • Automation of tasks smaller tasks such as sending emails enables employees to focus on more important responsibilities.
  • The use of voice frees up employees from cumbersome administration tasks.
  • A lot of time and resources are saved through the automation of routine processes via simple voice commands such as setting up meetings, reporting malfunction of electronics, etc.

Future of Voice: How are voice assistants being used currently?

Future of voice assistants

We may not notice it right away but voice technology has found extensive application in almost all the aspects of our lives. The future of voice is the integration of voice tech with almost all possible sectors. The following prominent sectors have already adopted the voice tech with an aim to provide the best possible experience to the users:

1. Voice technology in the automobile sector

The automobile industry is often credited as the pioneer to incorporate voice tech into its products. The example of Ford depicts the earliest possible use of voice tech in cars.

Back in 2007, the company released Sync, a communication, and entertainment system. Sync allowed drivers to make phone calls and manage their music while on the move.

2. Voice technology in the healthcare sector

The introduction of voice assistants has changed the way people search queries and taken it up a notch. For instance, Alexa is perfectly able to answer the basic health queries and even describe certain simple treatment procedures along with the effects of drugs.

Kaleo’s AUVI-Q is a notable mention here. The AUVI-Q is an injection used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. It uses voice commands for administering the drug to the patients.

3. Voice technology in the hospitality industry

The hospitality sector has successfully upgraded the user experience with the help of voice. Several hotels offer rooms with Echo devices that allow the guests to use just their voice for controlling certain room parameters such as temperature, lights, music, etc. Hotels are also optimistic in soon providing voice-powered concierge-level services. These services will be a significant part of the future of voice in hospitality.

4. The US is hoping to use voice in the public sector too

At present, various researches are being carried out to assess solutions that will ensure accessibility of government facilities via digital assistants. Moreover, the US government has already started developing skills for Alexa at the federal level.

Future of Voice: Potential of Voice Tech for the Enterprise

Potential of Voice Tech for the Enterprise

In a survey conducted by Capgemini Research Institute, 76% of organizations said they had reaped significant benefits by employing voice and chat assistants at the workplace. It is only natural, isn’t it? If the customer is inclined to use voice tech more and more, businesses have nothing but gains out of employing it wisely.

Optimizing voice assistants to create a more relevant customer experience

It is estimated that the number of digital assistants will rise to an astonishing 8 billion units by 2023. This statistic is indicative of the fact that people are becoming more familiar with voice technology.

It also presents an opportune moment for all businesses to establish strong relationships with their customers. The plan seems more plausible after one realizes that according to Google, nearly 40% of smart speaker owners admit that they view their devices as a friend while talking with them.

With strategic and effective use of the technology, businesses will be able to provide immensely personalized, human-like service while maintaining the speed of chatbots, thereby ensuring more relevant customer experience.

Why should businesses now begin to adopt a mobile voice strategy?

A report by Think With Google in 2018 claimed that 27% of the global internet population uses voice search through their mobile devices.

Mobile phones have tremendous potential to provide a more personalized experience to users. However, a smaller screen size poses a problem for businesses as users find it difficult to search or navigate through the content of an app or a website. In such situations, the use of voice is not only appropriate but also highly beneficial.

With the introduction of voice applications, voice commands in natural language diminish the manual efforts. This helps the users to accomplish their tasks at a quicker pace.

The future of voice is going to be mobile. Brands will soon realize that the best way to enhance the mobile experience for the users is through voice technology. Quick and efficient completion of tasks is at the center of enhanced user experience and it can be achieved by using a voice-led approach.

Thus, It is safe to say adopting a voice strategy for mobile is the best way forward for businesses.

Use of voice assistants in making the workplace more efficient

Voice technology makes working life a lot easier by streamlining the manual process and routine tasks. As a result, employees are able to multitask with fewer efforts and more time in their hands.

The automation of simple tasks such as taking notes or sending memos allows employees to concentrate on more important strategy and brainstorming sessions.

The current COVID-19 pandemic situation only accentuates the importance of voice technology at workplace. While businesses adopted the work from home model in the initial stages of lockdown, markets are gradually opening now as we adjust to the post-pandemic life. In such a situation, voice devices can help employees complete their tasks safely.

One of the simplest ways of practically applying voice technology at workplace is through voice-assistants. Since most people are familiar with them and have a basic understanding of their functions, they are easy and efficient to use. Alexa for Business and Microsoft Cortana are two of the most popular voice-assistants for professional use.

Additionally, companies can take advantage of conversational voice bots to add to the overall productivity of the entire operation. Personalization offered by voice assistants is great for building custom CRM software. Employees will experience a boost in their morale as they will be able to send vocal updates instead of manually updating the information.

“Voice technology allows businesses to reduce the number of operations necessary to satisfy customers’ requests, obtain the loyalty of potential audience, and better management of administrative tasks. Customers, in turn, make their contribution to the shift towards voice assistants because they can cover their daily needs in a fast, convenient, and more user-friendly way.”
- Maxim Ivanov, CEO & Co-Founder, Aimprosoft

Future of Paid Voice Search: Will it be a reality soon?

Future of paid voice search

Paid voice search has been a controversial and hot topic of debate in both the software and marketing industries. Considering how quickly voice search is advancing, why would businesses not want to monetize it?

Search behaviors are changing

Recent years have seen the concept of voice search gather a lot of momentum. A recent report by Gartner revealed that voice search is the most rapidly growing mobile search type. According to Google, voice search already accounts for 20% of all searches.

This implies that in the near future, the patterns of search behaviors will experience a major change.

“Search is now leaning towards a conversational tone. Instead of searching with one or two words, users are now searching for full sentences and questions.”
- David Galownia, CEO, Slingshot
“We can easily see that the future of SEO is shifting toward voice search as people are speaking to voice assistants using a conversational tone, questions, and long-tail keywords.”
- Rameez Ghayas Usmani, Digital Marketing Strategist, Pure VPN

Apps with voice search will soon dominate the mobile phone app market. As voice continues to grow its market share, the listening points are gradually overtaking the touching points. Consequently, brands will have to rely on organic search for visibility.

Location-based searches can especially be lucrative

When we talk about the future of voice, we can’t not mention the importance of location-based search. Location-based voice searches carry huge potential, particularly for the commerce sector.

The real-time location of the potential customers opens up space for the companies to advertise their products. However, this requires businesses to create and curate content in such a way that it is triggered by the current location of the users.

If effectively managed, such voice advertising campaigns can massively improve a brand’s existing mobile presence.

For instance, suppose you own an automobile repair shop and garage. So your business will have to put in efforts in such a way that a voice search query, generated by a user in need of vehicle repair within your shop’s area, shows your shop as the top search result.

Voice search monetization

The major distinguishing feature that has made people trust voice search is its ad-free nature. Therefore, attempting to monetize voice search, particularly with ads, can be quite a rickety experiment when it comes to the future of voice. There is a strong possibility that users will be put off if they have to listen to ads while searching for stuff.

“Ads on a speaker are just not as non-intrusive as normal ads are online. Even YouTube allows you to skip ads - most of the time. Listening to ads is the worst, as any Spotify user with a free account will be able to verify. On one hand, it’s a great way to get people to pay to not get ads. On the other hand, it may kill an industry that is destined to be big before it really even started.”
- Heinrich Long, Privacy Expert, Restore Privacy

So marketers are looking for ways to monetize voice search in a way that wouldn’t harm the engaging user experience. Some potential ways in which voice search can be monetized are:

In-market voice search ads

If the voice app has access to the user’s search history, marketers can target them with voice search ads for the products or services the user has been already searching for on other platforms. However, this would mean increased risks of security.

“If we’re now providing this technology with sensitive information, such as credit card details, we need to be sure that it’s going to be safe. There are risks involved with storing your information online anywhere, so this doesn’t mean don’t use voice technology to buy products. However, if you intend to make users make purchases through your voice app, security should be your number one priority.”
- Carla Diaz, Co-founder, Broadband Search

Voice ads for events-based searches

This seems like the safest form of voice search ads. Whenever a user asks their voice assistant about future events like a concert, the assistant can play an ad to sell tickets for the same.

Voice ads for repeat commodities

Voice ads for repeat commodities

Again, if a voice assistant has access to a user’s purchase history, they can leverage it to target ads for commodities like toiletries, groceries, etc. Alexa has already been doing that as it has access to the user’s Amazon search history.

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Future of Voice: The Bottom Line

The future of voice is bright and the voice tech trends are pointing towards paid voice search as the next mobile revolution. At this point, a lot of people are skeptical about the desirability of paid voice search. However, if implemented the right way, voice search monetization techniques can actually lead to more enhanced user experience. If marketers are able to understand user expectations accurately, paid voice searches can not only be less off-putting but also desirable by consumers.

For now, the two voice giants Amazon Alexa and Google Actions are focusing on expanding their user base. More users would fetch them more consumer data which in turn will be helpful in figuring out effective voice advertising strategies.