Artificial intelligence (AI) and conversational systems are going to be the “next big thing” in 2017. Not only because the renowned research firm Gartner has included both within the most important technology trends of the year, but also because Amazon is making big moves to integrate Alexa in every part of the customer daily life.
Alexa is partnering with tech companies
Amazon are partnering with technology companies such as Lenovo, LG, Ford, or GE to get Alexa into everything, creating new use cases and opening doors to more seamless ways of interaction between people and machines.
Amazon imagine a screenless world where customers need nothing more than their voice to give commands or ask for something as if they were talking to another person.
Thus, the first collaborations are starting to come to light. LG have recently unveiled an smart fridge that, apart from having a big touch screen letting consumers do a wide range of activities, has Amazon’s voice-powered assistant built-in, so that consumers can benefit from Alexa’s entire services, for example, by ordering some food (from Amazon Pantry) or just playing some music while they are cooking.
Another sector that has a lot of potential to this respect is with no doubt the automotive industry. Having in mind the next generation of connected and autonomous vehicles, car manufacturers aim to integrate voice-controlled interfaces in their models to bring mobility to the next level.
It is the case of Ford, who have recently announced the cooperation with Amazon in implementing Alexa functionalities in Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system. This innovation allows drivers to do a lot of activities from home or while driving without being distracted: from closing the garage’s door through getting usable transit directions or current weather predictions to completing purchases.
The spread of Alexa and other voice control assistants as well as the increase of new use cases derived therefrom will influence the way people interact with machines. We are looking at a paradigm shift where voice-powered interfaces will become the next generation of interfaces, where conversational commerce will have a lot to say and where IoT will play a decisive role in assuring a smooth running of the entire connected landscape.
Challenges to close the adoption gap
For now, consumers are slowly adopting voice-controlled devices to empower their increasingly smart homes. In 2016, 17 millions of Germans interacted with Google Now, while only 0.8 millions of German users utilised Alexa.
It is also interesting to know the main applications of voice-controlled assistants in Germany. In 2016, 56% of German users made hands-free calls, 51% used GPS software and 50% searched for information. Shopping and mobile payments are still marginal as you can see in the graphic below.
That means this new interface concept is still in its infancy and it is perceived by consumers as rare and vague because they are used to interacting with screens (bigger or smaller) and to having a visual control of what is going on.
The challenge is to make them hear the several advantages of this shift of paradigm: seamless, simple, tailored and real-time experiences in exchange of personal data. However, to do so it is required to face a second challenge: to improve the gathering of relevant data.
And here is where predictive analytics and smart CRM systems can play a prominent role. SAP Hybris and SugarCRM are currently making valuable use cases happen that inspire businesses and convince customers to embrace this way of catching up with machines.