Voice technology was always considered something funny and not for real use-cases. That was until it took over in speed and accuracy in 2016 with a Stanford study(1) finding that speech was 3x faster and more accurate than typing on the mobile phone.
This takeover was not a coincidence.
Speech has always been a much more natural way for humans to communicate with each other than typing away on a keyboard on a mobile phone. As such, Speech recognition and understanding has always been a topic of interest of the computer science community. But it was only with the advancements in deep learning that speech recognition became more accurate and near real-time.
Big tech giants (aka. Google, Amazon and Apple) have been investing heavily on speech and audio and with the advancement in the speech recognition and understanding, it was finally time to push voice to mainstream. And so we saw the rise of Siri, Alexa and Google assistant.
You can also observe this with the rise is sales of smart speakers over the past few years and also the rise in voice triggered search queries. Technology adoption life-cycle for voice search is also entering the Early Majority region making it the right time for companies to start taking voice seriously.
With the advancement in technology and widespread availability of voice supported smart speakers, a significant shift from typing to speech is imminent.
It is now time for brands and services to leverage this growing ecosystem. Becoming voice-first may still sound far fetched in an era when companies are still trying to be mobile-first. However, voice-supported is something that customers will soon expect. Brands and services who fail to adapt risk losing customers and worse.
On the other hand, companies have this great opportunity to be first movers and stand out from their competition. Having a voice strategy and being available on smart speaker platforms provides opportunities to increase customer base, monetize free users and increase value proposition to the end customers. Leading services like Spotify are already making their service available through smart speakers and are seeing increased customer retention and higher subscription rates (2).
As is with a new ecosystem, there are initial hurdles (and possible solutions) but we will leave that for another post. Today, it is about being aware of the rise of the planet of voice and start thinking about a voice strategy.