Observations from the SPLICE AI-Home Assistant Devices Seminar

Jeff Young on January 30, 2018

Home assistant devices have hit the Canadian market!  Though probably not new news to you with the amount of holiday-season marketing from both Google and Amazon to reach those looking for the cool gift for family—or for themselves. It’s no wonder that tech thought-leaders from around the globe are already referring to 2018 as “The Year of Voice”.

I was eager to learn more about how Voice First devices are impacting both consumer trends, and the greater business community.  Darin Reffitt, VP of Marketing and proud owner of five Amazon home assistant devices, shared his perspective and recent market trends that confirm the need for business leaders to take notice now, in order to strategically meet this demand later.

Read below for my observations from the SPLICE Seminar, AI-Home Assistant Devices: Developing, Launching & Managing Your Skills.

Each home assistant device has its own strengths and weaknesses. Google Home excels in voice search, conveniently integrates with Android OS, and includes Gmail, Calendar and other Google desktop apps. Amazon Echo devices have an eCommerce advantage with Amazon Prime integration, and 25,000+ available skills (at press time).

One in every five Google searches is generated by voice; however, comScore estimates that within two years, 50% of all searches will be voice-generated. While Millennials are the leaders in using voice commands, GenX and boomers are the generations buying the most home assistant devices.  As they continue to invest in devices, it reasons that their level of engagement with voice will only increase towards that of younger generations.

Many attendees had not considered the importance of differentiating their brand voice from the native voice of Amazon Echo or Google Home, but this is crucial. Skills or Actions will, by default, be voiced by the generic voice of the device. As these mammoth brands continue to expand into other verticals (like insurance), having a skill voiced generically may not be optimal—or stand up to your competition. Watch the video below to hear the difference between native and custom brand voice, for yourself:

A key takeaway is the need for organizations to understand how their clients are engaging with voice search. Unlike navigating a traditional search engine, or different menu options on a website to find answers, Voice First device users simply state a question and expect an intelligent response.  As such, understanding the data flow required to support a Skill or Action—depending on the device in question—is paramount.

So which brand will win market share in Canada? Darin posed this question to the audience and some attendees thought Google Home would, due to being first to market in Canada. Others assumed adoption would be higher with Amazon Echo, due to its 75% current market share in the US and the ability to cater to consumers via Amazon Prime. It’s too early to predict a winner, but given that use of Voice First devices is expected to double by 2021 (to over 18% of the population), business leaders need to create a Voice First strategy that supports both leading brands, in addition to other up-and-comers like Microsoft Cortana and Apple HomePod.

How does your business begin to map out a Voice First game plan? Darin outlined the pros and cons for three implementation strategies:

  1. Build your own Skills or Actions in-house
    The benefit of building your own Skills or Actions is full control of the build and the ability to reconfigure, add or change skills as needed. Challenges could potentially be a lack of internal expertise in voice engagement, and a lack of bandwidth to effectively build, deploy and manage a build for multiple platforms.
  2. Buy Skills or Actions from a third-party vendor
    The benefits are quick speed to market, the ability to leverage others’ expertise in voice engagement, and reduced internal staffing costs. However, it may be a challenge to find the right partner, to ensure data security and to justify the outsourced investment.
  3. Consider a partnership with SPLICE Software
    With over a decade of experience in voice engagement and optimization for retail, financial and insurance industries, the team at SPLICE can effectively map out a strategy, build custom Skills or Actions, and provide an authentic human voice, unique to your brand.

Want to learn more about creating a Voice First strategy for your brand? Contact SPLICE at 1-855-777-5423.