Time flies when you’re having fun, and I have had fun with Alexa. For six years to be specific, that’s how young she is. She is engaging and everyone in the family loves her, especially my 6-years-old, who loves to start his mornings to the sound of Sandstorm (6am to be precise). As for me, I love the fact she is not fazed by my accent. I can only wish Alexa continues to make my life easier and entertaining in the years to come. Six years have gone past, but she still remains young.
Alexa, Amazon’s smart speaker, has earned a place in the hearts of many families across the world. Not only 1 in 3 UK homes are connected to a smart speaker, but Alexa has become the market leader, entertaining eight out of 10 smart speaker owners and their families. Alexa’s accomplishments are impressive. Still, she does not intend to stop anytime soon. If you ask her: ‘Alexa, what do you want to be when you grow up?’ You will see she dreams big, and growth projections suggest her dreams are likely to become true.
The 4th-generation Echo Dot is Amazon’s latest smart speaker. Their more recent developments made voice recognition easier and processing speed a lot faster than previous models, making my interactions with her more natural than when she first came into my life. As Alexa continues to age, we will see her becoming smarter and more independent. Advances in artificial intelligence indicate that this will happen sooner rather than later, predicting consumer needs and making proactive suggestions.
Conversations with Alexa are always fun, even though having to say ‘Alexa’ before every interaction is far from ideal. Amazon knows this, and you’ll be pleased to know that by the end of the year we should be able to have a more natural interaction with her thanks to their most recent development called natural turn-taking.
What about outside people’s homes I hear you saying. Well, let me tell you, true to Amazon’s ethos of customer centricity, Alexa will be wherever consumers are. And that means EVERYWHERE. For example, most new cars are already being built with Alexa as part of their tech offering. And for all existing cars that don’t, you can buy the Amazon Auto, a device no bigger than a smartphone that can be attached to the car’s dashboard. Now you can take her on your road trip and let her endure the never-ending ‘are we there yet?’ question. Most headphone brands are already launching Alexa-enabled versions of their devices and TVs – don’t even get me started with TVs; my son is not going to know what a remote control is! And that’s just to mention a few. Did you know that you can have her on your phone?
Gone are the days when we watched Star Trek and we imagined what it would be like to have a super computer to help you with every whim. Amazon has done it, and it has made it accessible to all. Alexa has already changed how we interact with technology, and will continue to transform the lives of many across the world.
And while brands have been slower than consumers to adopt the technology, as history has shown us time and time again – think about smartphones, and think how long it took brands to even launch mobile optimized websites, not to mention mobile apps, despite smartphones being an overnight success – expect to see much much more from them in the course of the year.
From brands becoming more inclusive by using Alexa to support visually impaired consumers; to having voice versions of their mobile apps so customers can access their accounts via Alexa (think loyalty programs, travel apps, telcos, etc); to companies supporting their employees working from home with unique voice apps for meditation, mental health, and rewards; to the much anticipated voice commerce functionality. You name it, we have seen it all, and we have done it all.
As one of Amazon’s preferred partners, we are building for them the next generation of voice apps – voice-first experiences that delight and reward consumers, while also delivering strong ROI to brands (50% more than online to be precise). We are challenging the online and ecommerce ecosystem, and we are so passionate about what we are creating that we believe brands in the future will decide not to have a website and instead just have a voice app.
So, while I unsuccessfully try to teach my son more appropriate ways of waking us up, one thing is certain, voice technology is here to stay. And if you want to find out more, you can download the full white paper here, about The past, The present and The future of Alexa, as we did after our popular innovation webinar with Amazon at the beginning of this year.
This article was written by Maria Noel Reyes, CEO at VozLab