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Get Ready for Voice-First Apps

                Manoj Agrawal interviews Gartner Research Director Marty Resnick

One frequent asked question is – what is the best way to reach customers. Voice will not be the only way you are inputting info into the apps. Blackberry users were resistant to iPhones because of the superior typing experience of Blackberry devices. With laptops and phones, the user is expected to learn how to use the device. That is now changing, claims Marty Resnick, Research Director at Gartner. Now the interface will be responsible for learning the user. So, voice is the next disruptive tech. Voice helps us interact with watches, head mounted displays, etc. The core is speech recognition. Better the speech recognition, better the experience. The lift in accuracy from 95% to 99% is a huge leap.

“We have rapid growth of voice first devices like Alexa, Google Home, etc. The cost of these devices has gone down substantially. Question now is how to use voice in the enterprise,” says Marty. Several manual tasks can be done faster and easier, such as opening a particular file, finding a particular file, etc. For voice first devices, people still have to follow a script rather than communicate in natural language. Some of these scripts can become complex. How can existing processes and workflows be better, questions Marty. Virtual Personal Assistants like Siri, Cortona will proliferate in the enterprise. By 2018 end, at least 50% of new versions of enterprise software products will include some conversational capabilities, especially SaaS and cloud based applications, says Marty.

Voice can help user go directly to the needed information, without going through complex login and navigation. Voice is useful for setting reminders. The biggest challenge of voice is understanding different accents, dialects, speech defects, distractions, etc. It can be frustrating to ask the same thing repeatedly, and the user might prefer to go via keyboard or screen. 69% of voice apps earn just 1 star on their respective app stores. It is better to do one thing well rather than throw lot of functionality at voice, avers Marty.

Due to higher security issues, customer grade VPAs cannot be used right away. Alexa, etc, are coming as OEM on devices from HP, etc.

Marty’s Recommendations: (i) Start with highest impact areas and do proof of concept. (ii) Use hosted AI services. (iii) Select vendors as tactical investments, as the market will change significantly over the next year. (iv) Choose vendors that support multiple chat platforms. (v) Don’t underestimate the time for developing decision trees and maintaining them. (vi) If a tech is frustrating to adopt in initial phase, people will tend to drop it.

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