Artificial intelligence has many facets. In addition to autonomous driving, media planning and other application areas, it is also a major driver of innovation in the field of voice recognition. But can voice technology offer real added value, and if so, for whom?

Even five years after Amazon released its first Echo device, voice technology is still in its early stages. The glut of new devices, both from Amazon and Google, and the ongoing release of new features and upgrades demonstrate that there is still a long way to go before voice technology reaches its full potential. Having said that, voice recognition technology already makes life easier, or at least more convenient, in may ways. For example, even for the older generation, using speech recognition to switch the light on and off, control the heating, ask about the weather or find the right answer to a Trivial Pursuit question isn’t rocket science. And in certain situations, it even makes more sense to use voice control, for example while driving (at least as long as we still have to drive our cars ourselves), cycling, or for people with disabilities or older people who do not feel confident using other interfaces. Voice control is easy to understand and accessible to everyone on account of its intuitiveness.

Voice can enhance a brand’s personality

Brands communicate with their customers primarily through combinations of text and images. And, of course, every brand is very individual in terms of tonality and imagery. But until now, ‘real’ dialogue could only take place with representatives or brand ambassadors. Voice technology is changing this. Companies have to think carefully about how they present themselves as a brand to the outside world, what answers they want, and are able, to offer and how – and how they can do this as authentically as possible.

Therefore, voice should always be viewed as an opportunity to broaden and enhance a brand’s personality. In doing so, it is helpful to experiment with different approaches, content formats and sales pitches in order to find your brand’s ‘voice’.

At the Plan.Net Innovation Studio, we have been working with clients from various sectors over the past few years as they take their first steps into the world of voice technology. These sectors range from finance to automotive, retail to travel, and many others.

The first question you should ask yourself with projects like these is: what role should my brand actually play on the market? Do I just want to promote my own products and services, or do I want to try to occupy an entire field? Do I just want to inform, or do I want to give my customers the opportunity to buy something directly?

Whatever you do, the important thing is that you provide added value, and dispense with mere self-promotion.

Voice technology has become integral to our working lives

Voice technology is here to stay. Like the Internet, it has become a permanent feature of day-to-day life. That is why it is essential to examine the relevance of voice technology in every field.

Let’s take web searches as an example. The first three to four search results for a keyword will garner a click from the majority of users. With voice search, only the first result is actually relevant. This leads to even greater competition, and the platforms now answer many requests completely independently. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult for third-party content to jockey for position. Moreover, the platforms are still very careful when it comes to the use of advertising. They are – rightly – fearful of squandering the trust of their users. That is why we are currently seeing a renaissance in audio ads, which audio streaming providers place as pre-roll ads, for example, before their content – a tried-and-tested mechanism used by YouTube for years.

In view of the above, it is especially important that colleagues and employees get to grips specifically with voice technology, that they are granted the necessary freedom to do so, and that they are able to experiment in this area. Given that there are still relatively few experts in voice technology, this presents an opportunity for interested colleagues to upskill, and in doing so to create added value for the company in this innovative field.

About the author: Jonas Heitzer works as Creative Coder at Plan.Net Group’s Innovation Studio since 2017. His responsibilities include technical development.

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