Throughout 2018, PhocusWire brought you in-depth coverage of some of the critical topics impacting travel, organized by a different theme each month.
As we prepare for 2018 to end and a new year to begin, we are revisiting these themes.
look back on key developments of the past 12 months and look ahead, with additional perspective from the topical experts we interviewed throughout the year.
In March, our theme was voice technology. We looked at the
characteristics of an effective voice interface and shared specific examples from companies including
Trainline, Kayak, Expedia and Skyscanner.
There have been notable developments since then. In June, Amazon introduced Alexa for Hospitality, and in October, Expedia created browse
and book capabilities using Google Assistant.
Meanwhile, Amazon is continuing to roll out new Alexa-enabled products, Google and Alibaba have developed AI voice assistants, Facebook entered the fray with Portal, a combination smart speaker
and voice-activated camera, and many other vendors are jumping in.
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These devices are expected to be popular gifts this holiday season, boosting the value of the smart speaker market to $7 billion in 2019 and making it the fastest-growing
connected device category in history,
according to Deloitte.
provide a look ahead on this topic, Say It Now CEO Charlie Cadbury offers his take on the top five developments in voice technology he expects to see in 2019.
Voice technology - Charles Cadbury, Say It Now
- New entrants. Samsung has stated that all products they ship will be voice-enabled by 2020. We'll start to see a lot of those come through next year, and Samsung’s Bixby will become a compelling platform for developers to engage with.
Samsung ships about 500 million products per year. It's estimated there will only be 100 million smart speakers globally by the end of 2018,
so don't underestimate Samsung’s ability to make an impact.
Finally, Apple. We still cannot build "voice apps" for Apple products, but I hope that will change soon.
- Things can only
get better. Voice products are mostly cloud-based. This means that they can be, and are, improved every day.
This constant improvement philosophy gained popularity by the "The Lean Startup"
movement, and I noticed the other day that Alexa took more than a little inspiration from the Lean Startup logo:
The point here is that these services are improving at a pace. The experiences we are able to achieve will only increase,
adoption of voice-enabled devices will lead to trust in the channel, just as we saw with mobile apps. We will all be able to do more.
- Multi-channel. It's not all about voice. I've spent the last two years giving talks on stage trying to explain that, "The innovation is natural language processing, not smart speakers or chatbots.”
Since February 2017, my mantra has been that conversations have to be cross-platform. Voice is an additive interface, not one that will replace screens, which have a valuable role to play.
I'm expecting that message to be more
widely understood in 2019.
- Complexity. It will become better understood through 2019 that, unlike the rise of mobile apps, where digital agencies could skill-up some developers in app building, developing compelling conversational experiences requires specialist knowledge.
when you take into account my point about multi-channel, deep platform knowledge is required to create compelling, persistent, conversational experiences.
And when you start to look at internationalization, a solid partner network will
be required to truly localize experiences. “Cut and paste” translation will not work.
- References. Speak to most innovation practitioners and they will tell you of the troubles of getting credible budgets to explore burgeoning technology.
We have seen in 2018 a rising tide of voice projects "getting away.” These case
studies will be shared around the community and the groundswell of brands realizing they are losing market share by not being present in these channels will bring the next wave of usage to the market.
Those who are already engaged will
be on the front foot and building out the next generations of the interface. I've always said that if technology is war, the best weapon is speed.
Voice Month on PhocusWire
for all our coverage from Voice Month in March 2018.