It is being said that voice is the next wave after mobile, but actually, it is already here. If you are in the digital industry space you definitely need to understand the way voice will impact your business.
Let’s start with some interesting statistical facts and predictions:
- In 2019 39% of internet users are using voice assistants, which in turn represents 34% of the total population
- According to Google, in 2020, 50% of all searches across the internet will be voice-based
- By 2022, voice eCommerce sales are expected to top $45 billion in the US and UK
- Today 72% of people with voice-activated speakers use them as part of their daily routine
To avoid any misunderstanding we should start with a clear definition of voice assistant. A voice assistant is a digital assistant that uses voice recognition, speech synthesis, and natural language processing to provide a service through a particular application. It is a personal helper that lives in your phone, tablet, speaker or other internet-connected devices. The most popular voice assistants are those from Google (Google Assistant), Amazon (Alexa), and Apple (Siri). Smartphones and smart speakers are the devices of choice for most voice assistant users. But the voice assistants are also finding their ways into cars, wearables, smart TVs and other connected gadgets. The heaviest users are Millennials. But the use of voice assistants is growing among all age groups, including children, teens, and seniors. Voice assistants are no longer a gimmick, remember the Italian grand-mother trying out Google Home? If you don’t, please watch the video, I promise you it’s worth it. Fast forward to 2020, they have become a routine part of everyday life in particular to ask basic questions, search, request information and listen to music.
Battle of the voices
The market for voice-enabled smart speakers has grown rapidly over the last two years and is still mainly controlled by two tech giants: Amazon and Google. Both voice smart speakers are search engines, driven by AI and made available by voice. Amazon released Alexa in 2014 and was the first to produce a voice assistant embedded smart speaker. But globally Google Home beats Alexa with a market share of 32%. To get a quick overview of what Alexa and Google Home can do, you might want to have a look at these demos: Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. We have put the question-answering ability to a rigorous test and tried to determine who takes home the cake. The below table sheds some light on their differences.
If we are being real though, the test kind of sucked. To put it in numbers, only Google Assistant can answer more than 75%, while Alexa answers just over half of the questions. Most people who interact with virtual assistants realize this shortcoming pretty quickly. That is why both actually fail to retain users. But, they are getting smarter over time. One day they will actually prove to live up the potential that they have promised.
Google and Amazon paving the way
But what Google and Amazon actually did here is paving the way for any business to explore the development of an artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant. Two big advances have been happening, both voice and speech recognition took a giant leap in functionality and intelligence. The quality of recognition has gone through the roof thanks to the artificial intelligence market. Secondly, text to speech moved towards natural voice sounds. Horrible mechanical voices are history now.
Moving forward, the design of applications for customer services will really propel voice. Think of eliminating things like interactive voice response telephone systems (IVR) and touchtone menus. The value proposition is that it saves a lot of time, manpower, it is productive and it significantly improves customer experiences. Voice AI is going to be a game-changer.
Voice AI part of your digital transformation roadmap
So what should you do? We talk 7 times faster than we write, meaning there are enormous efficiency gains by enabling voice. The numbers indicate that consumers are ready to embrace Voice. Just like Google and Amazon are doing, why not start now entering into a deeper connection or service with your customers?
If you are interested to kick-off your very first test project, make sure to check out “Voice Assistance - How to integrate voice into your digital transformation roadmap”.