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VOICE ASSISTANTS: WHY THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE

Guest Contributor: Jason Fields, Chief Strategy Officer, Voicify

Being first or early isn’t a good enough reason for many brands to dabble in new technologies or areas of customer experience. What can often be agreed to over happy hour can’t be activated in a standup. The reasons can be political, financial or strategic. Sometimes it's ego, sometimes it's reason. Sometimes it’s both.

But voice is here to stay. 

Like the technologies before it, voice has a business opportunity for every industry. It can be integration into a new product, internal activities like onboarding, recruiting, supplementing in-store staffing or simply having another "always on" channel.

However, the decision to execute in voice is quickly becoming a necessity rather than a moment to showcase innovation. Consider the following widely communicated statistics:

  1. Amazon has a team of 10,000 people working on Alexa
  2. Google has chosen to sell its voice assistant devices at a loss
  3. Smart Display adoption increased 584% in 2018
  4. 89% of people with smart speakers speak to them once a day, 33% multiple times a day
  5. 49% of consumers would prefer voice assistants to human interactions in shops/call centers because it is faster

We crossed the 50M mark with smart speakers in 2018. Smart displays captured significant market share (increasing in adoption over 500%) in 2018 telling us a multimodal experience is desired. And voice assistants are embedded on billions of devices ranging from mobiles to thermostats, cars to refrigerators.

Brands who think a conversation experience and omni-assistant strategy is off in the future will find themselves woefully behind their customers.

Additionally, invocation names (the way users activate your conversation experience) are first come first serve. But here is the rub: whereas back in the day when domain names (URL’s) were being bought up by the hundreds and thousands as a digital real estate play, leading to some very rich people who smartly read the market, invocation names aren’t managed the same way.

The "digerati" learned from that market event. This means in order to secure your invocation name, you must also have content. Great news you think, no one can simply "buy" the invocation, squat and jack the price up when I am ready to activate. That’s true. But its shortsighted.

In reality it means that anyone who wants to put in a day’s worth of work can create a voice experience, name it, deploy it and box you out. And not just box you out but begin to shape the customer experience against your brand name, industry space or area of expertise.

I could, if I chose, go home tonight and create a voice app that is nothing more than 100 reasons I love Fiji Water. Call it "Fiji Water" and deploy it to every assistant out there. Like setting up a blog on fijiwater.com – but in voice.

Brand displacement and disruption isn’t a new concept. The speed with which it can happen, like Moore’s Law, is accelerating and brands need to be their own advocates. In voice it isn’t hard. You just need to start.

Have questions about taking your first steps with voice? Contact Verndale and Voicify.