Written by: Jason Cottrell
The marketplace is changing. Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are creating opportunities for deeper insights into customer wants and needs, and the companies that can react to those changes quickly are going to be the ones who capitalize on opportunities as they emerge. But we’re also only just scratching the surface of what these new technologies can do.
Ease of information
Voice User Interfaces (VUI) are one technology that is rife with potential. Already making significant inroads into use in our homes in small but meaningful ways, VUI will continue to grow and evolve as it works with the advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence to make more precise recommendations and provide more specific and tailored information to users.
ML-powered natural language processing (NLP) has come a long way in the past few years and as people become accustomed to interacting with devices through voice, there will be an amplification of those advancements. The systems will get more nuanced and the interactions more seamless (we’re already seeing this — remember Google’s demonstration at I/O 2018?) as we grow more comfortable with using them.
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This provides vendors with invaluable opportunities to meet customers and consumers when and where they are with minimal friction. Instead of complicated information architecture users need to wind their way through in the hopes of finding information they seek, VUI will provide a quick, natural way for them to source their information. And as part of the process, companies will be able to surface related content personalized to the consumer based on insights gleaned through prior interactions, parsed using AI.
As noted above, market penetration on home voice devices is skyrocketing (some estimates put devices at ⅓ market penetration in the US already). Clearly, voice interactions are going to be a big player in how businesses connect with their consumers and with their employees. And that’s great news, because voice interaction opens to door to a more accessible web.
Many of the software and digital experiences available today are inaccessible for large swaths of the population. But with voice, complicated screen interactions can be largely eliminated, creating a more universal experience for everyone. And when we’re forced to think through a different modality, we end up improving non-voice experiences as well, eliminating useless clutter and noise from the experience and focusing on what really matters to and impacts users.
As at-home voice devices continue to penetrate the market, there’s a unique opportunity to build a more inclusive experience that speaks to a broader audience base than ever before.
Personalization comes standard
It was touched on earlier, but personalization is going to be the true bellwether of VUI. As VUI and ML/AI build off of one another, the opportunities to provide personalized, context-driven experiences will grow. And in those encounters, companies will start to see big returns on their investments.
Starting this process early will be important — gathering and parsing data, crafting customization experiments to determine what does and doesn’t make sense for market, and then gathering feedback and iterating off of what is learned takes time. The sooner the process gets underway, the greater the chances for early and, more importantly, lasting success.
Marketers will be able to call up useful strategic analysis with voice interactions in meetings, enabling them to pivot faster and with better information than ever before. And they’ll be able to deliver content to customers that is meaningful and important to them specifically, instead of broad-strokes information that may or may not apply across the board.
Systems managers will have similar opportunities to gather meaningful data in the moment through a natural conversation with VUI, allowing them to make decisions that impact efficiency in the most efficient way possible. And employees will be given the chance to level-up on an ongoing basis through voice interaction modules, retraining on an ad-hoc basis with an at-the-ready teacher that empowers them to stay on top of their skills development with ease.
The opportunities are endless in voice. When paired with the data-driven power of machine learning and artificial intelligence, VUI becomes one of the most important strategic technology shifts of the next 20 years.