Thursday, June 21, 2018

The road to frictionless has hardly begun

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A fascinating evening at Imperial College last night. An opportunity to hear from Google and Amazon  and others on Voice.

Voice is becoming increasingly important - with 85 per cent of brands now actively working on their voice strategies (according to Vaice - a voice tech agency offering pro bono help to brands and agencies to engage in voice).

We heard about encouraging efforts from the likes of Snips (who have a blockchain-supported edge-computing solution to the data-grab dilemma many businesses, orgs and people may fear of the increasingly dominant platforms (such as Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook) and a personal favourite, Voiceitt, which is out to make voice accessible to those whose speech may be challenged by stroke, cerebral palsy and other debilitating conditions (including age).

Amazon shared the model it uses to make decisions about Alexa Skills to build. Unsurprisingly it starts with customer value...

Customer Value / Complexity x Frequency Potential x Frequency Maximisers

To be honest, that's pretty much the formula for success applied since widgets became apps, on web or mobile. I could argue it's a pretty solid formula for success in pretty much anything.

But it has been for a long time.

And that's the bit I think the excitement about Voice is missing currently. There was a lot of focus on the value of content and the continued broadcasting of it. There was talk about designing for personas, but none of this addresses the shift we should be looking for in business models.

When the web arrived, this was also the first reaction; how can we make money with this novelty?

It's real impact is how it shifts the way we can organise, cut out traditional supply chains etc. That wasn't identified immediately for the most part.
Then apps - what new capabilities could we play with?

We will also see a repeat of BYOD - my home is full of voice devices. My office (apart from our Collab) isn't. A generation of kids is growing up right now using voice for search, to learn, to discover music, to play games, to do the stuff they want to do with technology. Alexa for Business is already live in the US.

The big stuff, the new business models, the real impacts on how we behave (and since we are social beings, build relationships and organise), these come when we start considering what it means to have ubiquity with the new technology:

  • How will we behave when voice is everywhere in everything (and I will package personal recognition without  the need for a screen with this)? 
  • How quickly can the AI behind voice learn enough about our emotional state to make use of it? The reasons behind our behaviour are somewhat more complex than current marketing typically grasps (See Behave for a crash course).
  • Do we need new rules to cope with the fact that voice literally speaks to our most instinctual selves (bypassing much of the frontal cortex brain activity where are our logic and judgment are most developed).

Voice strategies must go beyond a tone of voice for a brand. They must look to a future in which the majority of information exchanges are done out loud, where a few clicks is friction too far, where single sign-in is in the dustbin of history and customer intimacy is of the highest fidelity and at ubiquitous scale.

Here is a world that, from that learned intimacy, prediction must follow.

The immediate battle field is on two fronts:  First to intimacy and first to prediction built on it. The road to frictionless has hardly begun.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?