The growth of the speech and voice recognition market is expected to reach $26.8 billion by 2025. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the core technology comprising voice, estimated to add $5.8 trillion in value annually. This is no surprise when you consider how companies across almost all industries invest in a connected future through speech technology. According to Amir Hirsh of Audioburst, an audio search and delivery platform, we’re at the beginning of an era of content consumption centred around audio.
“Research has shown that when we interact – even between two human beings or a crowd, and definitely with a brand and their target audiences, that audio works way better than video,” says Hirsh.
The conversational tech industry is ripe for growth, particularly as its adoption is vast.
Here are 5 areas where we can expect voice recognition explosive growth
Travel & Customer Service
The travel industry has suffered from long waits at the counter and on the phone waiting for a human customer representative to help with our needs. Hong Kong-headquartered Cathay Pacific has put a new chatbot experience into play, helping with higher efficiencies across the business. The airline flies passengers to 80 destinations in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Since implementing the chatbot, it’s reduced the unnecessary contact with the customer so that the agent can handle more complicated cases, more complex cases.
“Our chatbot can deflect 40% to 60% of the chats. So I think that actually implies 40% to 60% of cost-saving because of the number of human contacts, human handle chats that we’re able to adjust,” said Gordon Chu, assistant manager, Digital Products and Technology of Cathay Pacific Airways.
Pharma and Healthcare
The global pandemic has caused accelerated adoption and integration of conversational design into healthcare, especially in pharma. According to Shwen Gwee, VP and head of Global Digital Strategy at Bristol Myers Squibb, voice tech is leveraged to engage patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.
“There had to be a lot more emphasis and a lot more priority given to doing things virtually, leveraging digital to do all the things that, traditionally, we could’ve done in a face-to-face environment,” said Gwee with regards to voice tech being used during the pandemic.
Before COVID 19, a 2019 consumer study conducted by Voicebot.ai and Orbita found that 52% of consumers were interested in voice technology for health. In fact, many consumers already Google their symptoms — a trend that now also includes asking voice assistants about illness symptoms and medication information.
Payments and FinTech
Mastercard leverages AI and voice tech to take customer orders from A to Z for quick service restaurant customer questions. Another is AI-powered frictionless payments for retail. Combining AI with computer vision means you could literally walk into a shop, select an item, and pay for it without ever reaching for your wallet (or your phone).
Meanwhile, Visa uses AI-powered voice technology that focuses on user identification for customer service, order-taking, and, of course, to enable payments. In all of these scenarios, identifying the customer is critical. Visa sees vocal assistants as providing better identification less intrusive than the traditional questions and answers paradigm.
Senior Citizens and Boomers
Newer technologies such as voice are not just for youngsters. Paulo Narciso of the AARP Foundation says that voice-enabled technologies can advance the needs of older adults. Narciso’s role is to create new products and services for the foundation that serves the needs of vulnerable older Americans, who benefited from the combination of video and voice-enabled technologies when tackling the challenges related to isolation, inclusion, and quality of life during COVID.
“Once seniors learn how to be able to use a device like Alexa or being able to use voice on your phone, we find that it becomes their preferred medium of communication and being able to interact with technology,” said Narciso. Text is too small, for instance, to be able to use on their phone. It is effective in many ways, but a voice is certainly freeing from a screen perspective,”
Smart speakers are already being explored as companions in nursing homes to reduce loneliness, with 34% of U.S. senior households with broadband use smart speakers or smart displays.
The Philadelphia Eagles are leveraging deep conversational tech and development expertise to embrace this emerging technology and to share the messaging developed by its content team each week. The team makes it easy for fans to connect via Alexa and Google Assistant through a series of simple commands. They can receive daily news, hear players’ updates, follow the draft, hear the Eagle Insider podcast, create conversations, and more. The team’s secret sauce for building greater engagement? “incorporating the players and coaches” voices in place of the voice of Alexa or Google to help bring the personalities directly into fans’ homes.
Voice tech is still an emerging field with lots of room to grow, and there’s so much more to learn and experiment with, but its future is bright. As TuneIn CEO Richard Stern states, “The thing with conversational audio is that you want to interact with it, you want to join the conversation. And voice technology provides us with a tremendous capability in that regard. So much listening is happening on connected devices with voice assistant capabilities. I think there’s lots of room to explore and innovate together using voice technology.”
Whether trying to play a game or learn a new language, voice is the perfect tool for people of all ages.
What other industries and individuals are benefiting from voice? Check out the award-winning monthly VOICE Talks internet talk show to hear from industry experts, developers, and marketers about how they are incorporating voice into their brands.
About Pete Erickson
Pete Erickson is the founder of Modev, a network of technology enthusiasts, marketers and event producers committed to building voice tech and AI communities. The company organizes VOICE Global, virtual speakers from consumer tech, healthcare, entertainment, travel, and other industries. As the producer of the regular monthly, award-winning internet show, VOICE Talks, he welcomes the opportunity to hear from both established companies and startups innovating in the space. So be sure to reach out.