A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

February 4, 2020

The State of Voice: “Confusion” Reigns

In this podcast, Voicebot.ai’s Bret Kinsella talks with Maarten Lens-FitzGerald (the “Dutch Cowboy”) (at the 38:40 mark) to get the perspective of how voice will fare in 2020. Here are some of the points made:

1. Last January, Maarten predicted that 2019 would be the ‘year of boredom’ in voice. Other than the negative stories about privacy (or lack thereof), Martin’s prediction became fairly true.

2. Maarten talked about two types of confusion – for users and for organizations.

3. For users, there will be confusion because of three things: 1. the “walled garden” where each major voice provider has their own ecosystem that isn’t necessarily compatible with others; 2. existing voice users go “deeper” with their voice experiences and getting beyond playing music and checking the weather can sometimes lead to failed experiences; and 3. the laggards to voice will tend to be those that are less tech savvy and will need better instruction.

4. Before the Web in the mid-’90s, walled gardens existed in the online world (eg. bulletin boards), but the birth of browsers broke that down. Walled gardens still exist for mobile. Walled gardens for voice not likely to break down anytime soon because the major players have invested billions and don’t have an incentive to collaborate on unifying standards. But users are beginning to break down that wall a little bit (eg. using Amazon’s Echo Buds with their Apple iPhone). Still too early for most users to live with just one major player’s ecosystem.

5. Organizations are confused about the ROI for voice. So its a belief-based technology right now. You’ll need someone convincing the boss with creative numbers and good storytelling. Too hard to tell yet what voice works best for – is it customer service? Content? We don’t know yet. In a way, voice faces the same type of challenge that augmented reality does.