I love that separation of how curated a voice experience is and certainly the risk side of generative AI, I know of no organization that wants to open up an unfettered, highly risky conversation with a customer that they can’t manage.
Q: Pivoting a little bit, a lot of people today think about checking the weather or ordering dog food via Siri or Alexa, but voice is so much more. It’s come a long way. What are some of the more compelling use cases you’ve seen for voice?
Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa all did a really good job of laying a strong foundation of training with human beings about what was possible. So a lot of people are still used to those really rudimentary use cases. And some of them are very useful: turning up the thermostat, turning down the volume. These are helpful things as you’re walking around your house or in your vehicle even. But the business value and the customer value has accelerated well beyond the capability of those domain specific tools
A couple examples that come to mind are Houston Methodist, in Texas, which is actually implementing a voice assistant in their surgical theaters. That is to play into a sterility need that those environments demand. When you speak to a voice assistant or are prompted from a voice assistant to perhaps go through a series of processes and protocols, or to take notes or to confirm that certain steps have been done, you’re necessarily not touching things, which is really important when you’ve got somebody open on the table. They’ve extended that use case into patient rooms, where the assistant can be present on a mobile device of some kind (tablet, computer, phone), where the assistant can be helpful in conversations between doctors and patients both at a very rudimentary level, taking notes, but also in a very helpful way of surfacing information that the parties are speaking about that might be helpful or relevant and in ensuring accuracy of information or accuracy of comprehension by both parties. Obviously, that latter one needs to be opted into by the patient. A really a really great use case in a nontraditional consumer area.
One of the other ones that comes to mind is a client of ours named Odyssey. They’re the second largest radio station owner in the United States. They launched, as part of a rebrand, a new mobile app about nine months ago or so and they put a voice assistant as part of their user interface in that app. This allows them to dramatically cut down on the visual interface demands, the cognitive demands, on the user in order to tap and swipe and click through the interface to get to what they’re trying to listen to, or find out about. Instead, they can use their voice to drill down very specifically to what they’re looking for. And the assistant executes on their behalf in the app to bring that information.
The next one is more of a business use case, but I can’t use brand names in this one. A number of fortune 500 companies who have warehouse operations are seeing a real benefit in bringing a voice assistant into those warehouse environments, where their workers are typically carrying around some sort of mobile tablet or mobile device in order to manage information back and forth to the backend systems that could be doing things from arranging pickup orders from workers, organizing delivery schedules of trucks to the warehouse or simply surfacing information to managers. The combination of a few technologies, voice user interface, conversational AI, even NFC and augmented reality with visual capabilities is bringing a much safer work environment. The business case for these organizations is pretty straightforward. If you can decrease the number of accidents that happen in that environment, your insurance premiums go down. And that’s a real cost when you’re working at scale with warehouses all over the globe.
I really love looking at these institutional applications of voice and how they can help companies either drive increased efficiencies or driving reduced accidents.
When I look at financial services, I see some of the potential pain points voice could solve based on some of your descriptions. I think one area is in customer service and call centers. In looking at how you can handle the ongoing labor shortages combined with the always on expectations of consumers and businesses for 24/7 access, voice will be a fantastic way to both meet some of the labor shortage needs as well as the other stress of the always on expectation.
Similarly, I can see in the wealth management space where you’ve got financial advisors that have expertise and access to a lot of data on their customers’ accounts and investments, being able to provide deeper access and maybe easier access than a traditional web or mobile app might provide. The advisor can ask questions and drive analysis (e.g. what’s my exposure to a particular industry in my portfolio) without having to navigate or expect prepackaged reports. I love where this is going and how it can drive business advantage across domains.
I think some of the same patterns that we see with the big boys of Alexa, Google and Siri, or Apple, putting their voice assistants in market to do general training of society on how they can be used, you’re also now seeing with like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and US bank. They’re doing a lot of use of voice UI and conversational AI, with their consumer banking applications. What they’re doing, whether consciously or not, is they’re training a big swath of their consumer base about this capability. And as those consumers grow older, acquire more wealth, their expectation is not going to dwindle. But this capability should follow them into those maybe smaller but more intimate experiences with their financial services organization.