Are you talking to yourself or to your digital assistant? It may be hard to tell at a distance, but more of us are using digital assistants to do everything from controlling the lights in a room to finding favorite music or movies or creating grocery lists without the physical list.
Siri, Alexa and Cortana have achieved pop star status, where no last name is necessary for recognition, which should be your cue that this is an area where you should be focusing your technology development efforts. When did you last touch a technology screen, expecting to interact with it, only to be surprised that you needed to type or click, instead?
Simply put, voice is the new touch. If you’re still struggling to move your customer- and client-facing apps and technologies to touch, you’re definitely behind the curve as touch turns to voice.
Venture capitalist Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has her finger firmly on the pulse of technology. Her annual trend report is a must-read for anyone in the technology industry. Meeker’s most-recent trend report included some interesting facts about digital assistants.
Usage among smartphone owners has more than doubled between 2013 and 2015, with 65% using the technology. Surprisingly, the percentage who said the technology had improved dropped a bit between 2014 and 2015 but still ranks strong at more than 30%. However, awareness continues to rise (32%), along with a perceived need to use digital assistants more to calm a hectic schedule (23%).
Whereas touch is more about hardware and the interaction of finger with screen, voice is about software and the ability to quickly listen, aggregate information and user preferences while returning a useful interaction with the immediacy that users demand. That interaction may involve hardware (the Internet of Things), which only adds to the complexity. When you want the lights in a room turned down, you want it to happen now, not in 15 seconds.
Although Siri is synonymous with the iPhone, other digital assistants can be found in the home. At Christmas, I tried buying the Amazon Echo, but it was completely sold out for months. So was Google Voice, a good indicator of the intense interest in voice-activated assistance.
As your company continues on its digital transformation journey, you must account for user preferences, which increasingly are moving beyond touch to voice-activated features. As your customers and employees become more accustomed to using their digital assistants at home and on the go, they will be expecting the same level of sophistication and quality from your apps and technologies as they get from other providers.
Since voice and the integration with IoT devices are fast-evolving fields, your IT staff may not possess the necessary level of expertise to harness these technologies. IT managers should know both the strengths and the weaknesses of the staff. They should also be aware that outside resources are available to develop these technologies.
To find out more, perhaps you should check with your digital assistant.