Do Smart Speakers Make Smart Business Sense?

If you caught the Super Bowl earlier this month you probably noticed a few commercials for Amazon’s Alexa. While each commercial took a humorous approach featuring different failed Alexa-enabled products, one thing was true across all of them: Alexa’s a ubiquitous household name that’s no stranger within many of our homes. A recent TechCrunch report supports this idea showing that smart speakers reached a critical mass in 2018 with 41% of U.S. consumers owning a smart speaker device.

While the adoption of devices typically mean a new medium through which businesses can connect with their customers, smart speakers pose a tough question for businesses to try and answer: what’s the value in voice for business?

It’s a question that becomes even trickier to answer when device data shows us that the top tasks that smart speaker owners carry out today tend to be primarily for entertainment and personal benefit. Listening to music, checking the weather, performing online searches and asking ‘fun’ questions all top the list.

With a list like this, it can be easy to quickly dismiss smart speakers as a novelty item, but as quickly as these devices hit a critical mass, we’re going to see even greater reliance on these devices and broader uses for voice technology before we know it.

Here’s a few reasons businesses should care about voice and smart speaker technology:

Talking > typing. Smartphone usage is evolving and more people turn to Siri, Cortana and others to help carry out tasks with nearly 70% of people using these assistants on their phone weekly, according to Forbes.

Search is evolving. By 2020, Gartner predicts that voice-activated searches will account for 30% of web-browsing sessions. If your business isn’t optimized to be found through voice search, you’ll be missing out on key traffic.

Machines go mainstream. Potentially the most important takeaway for businesses when it comes to smart speakers is how much we as humans are coming to rely and trust these devices – changing our overall interaction with machines. It’s a foundation that will make us more willing to control greater components of our lives and environments through technology in the future.

So while asking Alexa to play “Don’t Stop Believin” isn’t unlocking much value for businesses today, it is paving the way for a world that augments tasks and works alongside machines in their daily personal and professional lives seamlessly. And as more companies consider things such as IoT within their business strategy, consumer reliance on devices such as smart speakers and tools such as voice assistants is important in building this human-machine connection.

If your business is interested in voice, smart speakers or the impact on IoT, reach out. It’s a topic we’d love to chat about further.