Trends in Voice recognition and Voice Activated UI – 2018

Adoption of voice activated technologies has been advancing at a fast pace, both in consumer and corporate applications.

Widespread adoption of Interactive voice response (IVR) at call centers, CRM based solutions are improving customer experiences and responsiveness.

Smart Voice and Digital Assistants

In recent times, users have been pleasantly surprised by the convenience of voice recognition, when they speak to mobile devices and Alexa, Siri or Google Now ‘understands‘ and seamlessly executes the request. Devices with voice activated user-interface like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home have become popular among consumers, and so have voice activated ‘digital assistants’ like Siri, Alexa, Cortana. Major search engines like Google and Bing have also enabled voice activated search.

Highlighting advances in the technologies, Tim Tuttle of Expect Labs explains (link)

“Siri, Cortana and Google Now won’t be the only intelligent voice assistants. As computing devices of all shapes and sizes increasingly surround us, we’ll come to rely more on natural interfaces such as voice, touch and gesture. In the past, developing an intelligent voice interface was a complex undertaking – feasible only if you had the development team of a major corporation like Apple, Google or Microsoft. Today however,  due to the emergence of a small but growing number of cloud based APIs like MindMeld, it’s now possible for developers to build an intelligent voice interface for any app or website without requiring an advanced degree in natural language processing.”

Why this matters to Business Leaders

Voice activated systems,  enhanced by other technologies like AI and chat bots are attractive to business leaders looking to improve efficiencies and employee productivity.

In a Technology review article, Vlad Sejnoha, CTO of Nuance Communications says “We’re at a transition point where voice and natural-language understanding are suddenly at the forefront. I think speech recognition is really going to upend the current [computer] interface.”

A recent market analysis by Grand View Research (link)  estimates the global voice recognition market size at USD 51.09 billion, and expects it to expand at a CAGR of 11.0% over the next 10 years.

The industry is predicted to witness a high growth with the rising popularity of voice-activated devices and appliances such as lights, thermostats, and other voice-enabled devices. Additionally, the rising demand for home automation and home security products, such as door lock systems and camera systems, is substantially contributing to the industry expansion and the trend is likely to continue over the forecast period.

Automating Customer Centers

Businesses are encouraging customer-self-service to reduce their operating costs to remain competitive. IVR systems can respond with prerecorded or dynamically generated audio to direct users on how to proceed.

Voice technology is commonplace in call centers. IVR systems, aided by bots and AI enabled databases are trying to address customer-calls at the first point of contact. These are designed to let users navigate through voice-activated menus,  and try to identify ‘irate’ customers who should be handed off to a real customer service representative.

A well designed IVR system should sound intelligent, conversational and recognize the user, and contain sufficient context to take basic actions just like talking to a live agent. Such systems are striving to address the majority of caller issues using IVR without ever handing over to human operators. These systems are popular  in customer-service management in industries like Airlines, Banking and Financial services where 80-90 percent of calls are of repetitive nature asking for basic information like “flight schedule,” “booking status,” “account balance,” “transaction fee” etc.

Smart Voice enters the Workplace

Employees who have used voice activated systems as consumers are more inclined to adapt to the technology at their workplace too. Recognizing such increased consumer adoption, Amazon recently announced “Alexa for Business service,” a move that tries to get Alexa into the corporate world.

Companies like Amazon are hoping that the ‘cool’ factor and consumer adoption will convince corporate leaders to bring Alexa enabled virtual assistants to their employees. They have visualized a variety of ‘user stories’ to engage and enable corporate users:

  • Help users at their desk –  Smart voice-based digital assistants can help users manage their schedule, keep track of to-do list, and set reminders. Voice activated Alexa can automatically dial into your conference calls and make phone calls for you.
  • Simplify conference rooms – Dilbert-like jokes on office workers struggling to start meetings and fiddling with conference room settings loose their humor in real-life. Voice activated digital assistants can help here and users can prompt the system by saying “Alexa, start my meeting”, to get started.
  • Add voice to products and services – Voice enabled systems can be designed to let users add their products and services to provide a rich, personalized voice experiences for their customers.

These systems could be used to make or receive calls,says a recent Wall Street Journal article adds:

Amazon and Google are part of a broader race among tech giants to create and install digital assistants in everything from cars to homes. Adding phone capability is a way to tack on more functions, which could lead to greater adoption and more frequent use.

Voice recognition in machines is getting really good and likely to change the way humans interact with their computing devices. As consumers get more comfortable with voice UI, we are likely to see a lot more innovative business applications.


Links and References

Edited and compiled by: Mohan K | Reproduction with permission only | Contact