Taking your Voice Assistant to the Office

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Voice assistants have been finding their way into our daily lives. Among at home voice-enabled speaker devices, Amazon has taken a 70% market foothold and sold over 25 million units, while Google trails behind at 23.8% market share and selling 5 million units. These devices, along with their mobile counterparts Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant, have pushed voice into the mainstream, making consumers more comfortable using them as a hands-free way of getting things done.

Still, only 46% of U.S. adults use voice assistants, with the most frequent use cases being playing music, setting alarms, and checking the weather. The remaining 54% of U.S. adults say they don’t use voice assistants simply because they are not interested. And it’s no wonder, as several of the most common use cases for voice can easily be achieved with a few taps on the phone — not to mention Siri and Google’s command and response can be easily bungled, taking more time than just tapping through to the desired app.

Each tech giant is using their own strengths to approach the advantages voice enables: Amazon’s Echo is used for shopping, Apple is launching their own Home Pod early 2018, which doubles down on music, and Google is optimizing their own Home device for search. So far, Amazon seems to be the only one to deliver on the advantages of voice, letting consumers say something as simple as “Amazon order X”, which automatically completes the order and has the items shipped.

Traditional User Interfaces are complex, and completing tasks or performing a search is time-consuming. With voice, tasks can be completed in only a few words. Today for example, if you wanted to find the recent changes to a document, you would first have to open your docs app, search for the document, open it, then click on a separate button to view the recent changes. With voice, you could simply say “Are there any recent changes to the document?” and the result will be spoken back to you.

At work, we often use business applications that require training and practice to use effectively within our organization. These products help us solve complex problems, but shouldn’t require us to jump through hoops. As Steve Jobs said, “the computer is the bicycle for the mind”. Our software at work should be intelligent to help us go faster, not slow us down. With voice, we’ll be able to go faster with less effort. This is the future of voice we’re building at Alan.

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