The digital assistant and voice search market is heating up, and there are quite a few players vying to be “Google Search” of voice. These include not just the commonly known names of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Cortana by Microsoft and Google Assistant, but also other players such as Bixby by Samsung, IBM’s Bluemix and Watson platforms and other smaller players like Hound.
Digital assistants will be device agnostic
Amazon’s Alexa is already available for android. And with Google’s move into making Google Assistant available on Apple’s platform, the competitive pressure is likely to drive other players to do the same over the next year or so. Voice assistants will be device agnostic. That is, they will be available across multiple devices, such as home systems, TVs, phones, the car and on the web, regardless of the parent ecosystem.
Smart speakers will be a mix of branded and open source solutions
As the voice ecosystem has evolved, smart speakers and home devices, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo are seen as the drivers of commercial success in the category. For the tech giants, smart speakers in your home serve as a platform to make money in other ways. But consumers may not see it this way. These same devices will be opened, hacked and modified, with or without permission from the tech giants. Firmware players are likely to bet on an open market strategy.
Voice assistants will become part of the value delivery
The availability of Software Development Kits for voice solutions has led to third party apps appearing on the marketplace. While voice assistants provide basic search services and resort to serving web results or triggering an app instead of having a complete interaction, the SDKs present opportunities in thinking of voice as not just a channel but a core part of the value delivery.
Integrating within the core value service will require defining, developing and testing how to interact with voice and manage customers all the way through to delivering a service. While each player in the digital assistant market evolves its ecosystem to improve third party integrations, service providers such as Starbucks are already experimenting and discovering what this evolution means for their industry. By looking into “skills” and “actions” for each assistant, it is possible to understand the impact for your industry.
Ads in voice will be closer to the Customer Journey
The advertising landscape is also likely to change – users don’t want to listen to ads as part of their voice enabled product or service. But while using voice services, users are also likely to ask for products that deliver better value than their existing choice, in turn creating new opportunities to vie for customer attention and dollars. The takeaway is not that there is a known path to running ads, but rather that the customer journey needs to be explored in the voice content to discover new advertising opportunities.
New players will emerge, and brand loyalty will depend on matching customer needs
Different brands have different strengths and weaknesses. Google is relying on its search dominance and product integrations, Apple, its early mover advantage and brand value, Amazon, its product and e-commerce infrastructure, and IBM, it’s AI platform. Even smaller players have opportunities. For example, by accessing the multiple strengths of each ecosystem, catering for unique use cases for smaller niche market segments, or creating new ways interpreting and modeling information.
At the end of the day, however, who becomes the preferred choice of digital assistant will be dependent not just on discoverability, but on brand loyalty built by meeting customer needs and expectations as well as building seamless experiences. To win, businesses will also need to ramp up quality of service delivered. For business with locations, taking insights from reviews and responding by solving known issues might mean the difference between being a preferred choice and just another player in the market.
Ultimately, if you are not paying attention to voice, you are already falling behind.
Voice services use existing services to provide context and intent
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