Voice – the next disruptive technology?

Voice technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years. My first experience of dictation software a few years ago was not good. It needed time spent “training” – it certainly learnt swear words- and never really worked.

A recent newspaper article picked up on a report that indicated voice activation accuracy rates were 30% in 2012 and 95% in 2017. 15% of the British population are currently using voice-activated technology – some 7.4m people.

Amazon Alexa and now Google Home have tended to be recognised as devices for use in the home.  However, business applications (or skills) are appearing all the time as companies recognise the benefits it can bring.

At home, the Christmas tree lights both inside and outside are voice controlled via an Alexa compatible smart plug and I have also linked Alexa to the TV – so the TV can be turned on and off, volume and channels changed, etc. However, controlling SkyQ is an unsolved challenge as yet. This technology could equally be used to control the TVs in the office.

A very simplistic practical example of Alexa in use – go into a meeting and a calculation is needed a gross profit % for example – 47,092/242,537 as an example – no calculator to hand – so you either have to go out and locate a calculator or fire up Excel on a PC. How much easier and quicker is it to just ask Alexa?

At a higher level, it is reported that Alexa has been linked to integrate Financial Force software and Salesforce to perform tasks such as updating project statuses or booking vacation requests.

An Alexa skill - Salary Bot Salary Calculator – calculates take home pay from gross salary. Provide the salary, student loan repayment and pension and the yearly or monthly take home figure is reported.

Another skill, unofficial Google Analytics, allows interrogation of that product – “how many page views did I get last month?” for instance. (I have to say though I have not managed to get this to work).

For those selling via Shopify, the Shopify skill allows the user to ask for all sorts of information – business summary, orders and sales reporting, information about orders, summary of bestselling products etc.

Alexa calling and messaging adds a further dimension to the product – the ability to chat or leave messages to colleagues or clients?

The future….?

Intuit (QuickBooks) recently showed a video at a roadshow I attended.  This was a look at “the future” and among other examples, it showed someone speaking instructions – “please send an invoice for £x to ABC Company Limited”.  The response was “invoice sent” – spoken of course.

Instead of drilling down or having to write specific queries to obtain information, how much quicker will it be to ask “What were the sales and net profit for XYZ department in the last 6 months?”

Have you implemented, or do you plan to implement, Alexa into your business or practice?

What would you like to be able to ask Alexa to do? (no rude answers please)