Category: Insights

02 May

Customer Experience and Privacy. Reflecting Voice UI Trends for 2019

amir Insights Tags: , , , 0 Comments

As 2018 presented several significant milestones for voice technologies, primarily within the smart speakers’ domain (“Amazon Echo Dot is Still the Most Owned Smart Speaker”, “Google’s smart speaker Rise Narrows the Gap from Amazon”), voice tech trends are being expanded well beyond this use case. Voice is now everywhere, whether in practice, or designed to be. online, offline, across various segments, and use cases. Now is the time to look ahead and discuss the future of voice solutions, technology, trends and user experience.

I will focus on the following aspects of the voice evolution and how they’ll grow during 2019 and onwards:

  • Voice at the Enterprise and Data Ownership Aware.
  • Customer Experience Plays a Major Role.
  • Voice at the Edge, Brick and Mortar Retail and Beyond.

Voice at the Enterprise

While during 2017-2018 voice technology was mostly around making the smart speakers devices part of many homes (in the US, later in Europe), and helping with audience education for the power of voice interfacing and services accessibility (mostly music and simple updates as a weather updates), it becomes clear now that organizations of any segment are exploring ways to apply the Voice User Interface (simply: VUI) within their products or service. We see this is happening mostly in Retail (in store and online, see under Next Generation eCommerce, item 23), Financial Services (from Banks to insurance) and edge devices (from ticketing solutions to smart office interface). This trend is clearly described by Jon Stine in a recent post.

While Smart Speakers eco system has a fairly basic framework (build a “skill” or an “action” to let the consumer’s approach the brand’s service) – leveraging voice functionality within the Enterprise, imposes some fundamental challenges which must be addressed properly to support a healthy VUI adoption and growth:

  • Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and GDPR – the voice functionality within the Enterprise must comply with privacy regulations and should avoid using user’s personal information during the voice transaction. This is a major challenge since the services provided by these organizations will involve user’s personal data – e.g. bank account or insurance account services are strongly tied with the user information. See for instance Google fine for a recent GDPR breach in France and Amazon Alexa and GDPR here.
  • Business Data Ownership Aware – while applying voice interface for consumers or employees with an Enterprise data platform, it’s imperative to keep the data flow process in full control by the Enterprise. Since valuable business information is being processed, no organization can allow that data to be left un-handled, openly available to the platform vendors and external voice services. To my opinion, this is why we don’t see tight integration of voice solutions yet – within fundamental services given by insurance companies for example (link), and more. On the other hand, we saw that Salesforce tries to lead the way for voice within the CRM segment by collaborating within the smart speakers arena – see here, again a limited offering.
  • Additional information concerning Privacy in general with regards to the various digital solutions available in many aspects of our lives is available through this great piece of the New York Time.


Customer Experience Plays a Major Role

Customer Experience in the age of digital transformation and disruptive technologies plays a crucial part in user adoption of these new solutions & services. As technology itself  – referring to the Voice tech – reaches maturity, in terms of accuracy levels, supported use cases, and so on, a major part is users’ adoption of the new technology is the Voice User Experience, or Voice UX.

One can witness several growing design agencies, aiming at helping organizations with their Voice UX design, to make their application appreciated, adopted and used by their respective users. This is a fundamental step in the voice technology evolution, which is still in its infancy stage, and it will continue to grow, until a comprehensive paradigm for designing and implementing voice UX is available as best practice in the industry.

More on VUX, within retail and smart speakers, you will find in this article by Luminary Labs.

Voice at the Edge, Brick and Mortar Retail and Beyond

Mainly in retail, but not just, we witness a significant effort to make the edge device, in the commercial use case, smarter. For various (and obvious) reasons, this is very well manifested within the physical store, or the brick and mortar in retail, where major retailers are either deploying (see Amazon Go), building (See Walmart IRL) or designing smarter shops, for a futuristic in some extent, or technologically advanced in general- shopping experience.

Voice, as the new operating system, is bound to be part of this phase, as eventually the purpose of all tech enhancements and devices deployments is to attract more people to the physical stores, and provide them with a superior experience while shopping. This is true not just for the retailers but also in other segments, from ticketing transportation to vending machines and smart offices.

Applying the voice at the edge device is not a new concept, but with the recent advancements of computational linguistics and NLP, these devices can now add real value to the users, while in the store.

Voice interfaces can and will be used for enhancing the in store experience when it comes to the point of sale (payment inquiries, self service, FAQ), shelf devices (upselling, product information), kiosk stations (in-store navigation, product search) and more.

While store of the future implies reducing staff needed to operate the store and serve customers, the employees’ time will be used to address additional challenges, which will be part of the migration to the technology enhanced store. Voice will play a part on this as well, providing employees with new tools and new tasks – from social media activities, to logistics and support.

Closing Remark – Following this article, describing an intense technology shifts we are currently experiencing, we should also take a moment and consider a less invasive interface alternative, when it is applicable in our lives. Read FJORD insightful report on this matter.

What you should do next?

If you’re in charge of customer experience, innovation or product – you need to start planning your voice strategy, and there are several articles about it online. Or you can talk to us.

Tukuoro is the Voice Open Platform. Every use case and suggested solution described in this article is already deployed at Tukuoro’s customers, or can be deployed using Tukuoro Voice Open Platform technology.

Reach out to us and learn how to make your interface Voice enabled.

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Contact me for more;

30 Aug

Voice User Interaction – Insights of a Voice Layer Solution Vendor.

amir Insights Tags: 0 Comments

Voice. The new frontier.

Voice solutions has been around for nearly 30 years. Here is where I believe the voice solutions are headed.

Voice interfaces initially started as an improved interface for call centers and self service products, over IVR and telephony systems (“say your ID number”). These technologies have improved over the years and have became a stable and pretty standard solution in that segment. Another segment included on-board hardware products, and later on the in – car interactive systems. All were mostly an off line solution, handling the challenge of user interface in a very limited spectrum and functionality. Later, a consumer oriented solutions, using basic speech to text capabilities emerged (see the interesting timeline here)

Then the VPAs (Virtual Personal Assistant) came. Started with SIRI 5 years ago (see this youtube video) – a whole new world of possibilities started for – MAINLY – the smartphone vendors, offering a slightly different, yet still very clumsy way to perform limited action or command based, within the phone itself. As clearly described here, VPA’s today, and to some extent smart speakers (see below), are manufactured by companies with access to our personal data, putting (some of) our context – used during the process.

Recently, we are witnessing a huge growth in every aspects of the voice enabled solutions arena. In addition to the IVR based solutions, we start to see more designated VPAs – per domain or specific topic, see this product hunt list. While each product tries to provide its own unique service, still the focus is in a specific line of data, content or service.

Another, vastly growing domain is the smart speaker. As marked by Mary Meeker in her KPCB’s Internet trends 2016 report, Amazon Echo set the path to a blast of home based, interactive speakers, aiming at building an ecosystem (i.e. Amazon skills) around it, and generating huge interest by all major platform vendors. Google Home, Apple Home Pode, Microsoft’s Cortana based Harman speaker, Baidu’s “Little Fish”, Alibaba’s “Tmall Genie”, Line’s “Clova”, and more.

So, what is next? How will voice be used in more use cases, and market segments?

I would like to suggest 3 insights, to where voice solutions are developing:

  • Personalization. Voice will be used as a personalized platform for advertisers and publishers. We start to witness this trend with some attempts made by e.g. Amazon Echo where voice based purchased is available. Recent analyst reports (most relevant would be Mary Meeker’s 2017 edition of the Internet Trends), and other research agencies start to reflect this change (see for instance the Voice as SEO). Think of an interactive, personalized, voice based advertisement.
  • Transformation. Voice as a major contributor to Digital Transformation. It’s not new that major corporate organizations are eagerly looking for internal and external innovation and disruption, to support a better digital transformation. Voice will be used to support this change, by helping the organization provide a better service, improved internal data management and productivity.
  • Voice enabled IoT. Voice layers will be part of many interactions between the user and his \ her connected device. One can imagine a user speaking to his smart home control, refrigerator and any other sensor. Making voice interaction will be widely used, and not only focused on a certain commercial platform device (Smart speaker).

Voice is the new User Interface. There is no question about it. But as we are making so many exciting changes, and as voice interface is paving its way into the tech mainstream, some challenges remains:

  • Making the interaction intuitive for the user.
  • Building a positive user experience, for the voice interaction.
  • Making interaction accurate. This is probably the most important element, which will make voice work.

At Tukuoro, we believe that voice should be easily enabled as well as provide a great experience for the end users, anywhere they are. At home, in their car, when traveling to their next client visit, when generating report etc.

Reach out to us and learn how to make your interface Voice enabled.

Follow us to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Contact me for more;

30 Aug

Now is the time for European Corporate to embrace Israeli innovation.

amir Insights Tags: 0 Comments

In the past few months I have been travelling to Europe several times, meeting with different market segment customers, and discussing some very interesting ideas with corporate representatives.

A couple of weeks ago Tukuoro attended the Viva Technology event in Paris, after being selected by Valeo Automotive to present Tukuoro’s innovative voice layer as part of its Tech Lab – “Automotive 2025”.

Europe is strongly embracing innovation.

In this short post I will share my thoughts and experience from Viva Tech, why I believe startups are playing a vital role and where are the opportunities for small companies (and for corporation).

There is nothing new with the notion that given the speed of which new technologies emerges and disrupt existing practice, the corporate organizations all over the world invest a lot of thinking (and resources) to better understand how they should adopt and incorporate these new technologies, to help them grow, but more importantly, to keep them still relevant.

One simple evidence is the growing number of a new, usually executive, role in almost every corporate company – Head of Innovation.

Applying new approaches, practices and technologies require intentional effort from the corporate and is never easy, yet seems that there is a growing understanding within these organizations that they have to change or cease existing.

During Viva Technology event, which took place in June, 2017 in Paris, it became very clear to me that the quest for new technologies is genuine. The event was packed throughout all hours of the day, from 9 am to nearly 8 pm.

Visitors kept coming, walking through the various vendor booths, labs and listening to different lectures. Though it was mostly French oriented, the entire event was in English, making all visitors and exhibitors from other places feel very comfortable.

Though exhibiting within Valeo, an automotive vendor leader, Tukuoro had numerous conversations with customers and partners of different segments, from retail, to financial, to IoT, transportation and many more.

Beyond the clear interest in Voice solutions through our conversation, it was my experience that the French visitors are ready to make business!

 Factory Berlin

I had the same experience during the 3 days TLVWeek workshop in Berlin, last December. Tukuoro took part in 3 days of presentations, talks, workshops and keynote, in the fabulous Factory Berlin, aiming at bringing local German industry and business leaders, together with local and Israeli startup founders – in the same place for direct, in formal talks about innovation.

During that event, we all witnessed the open approach for new ideas, innovative technologies and readiness for making changes, evaluating new concepts and making startup-vendors partnerships.

A similar atmosphere exists in other places through Europe, making it a great launch pad for every startup.

At Tukuoro, we believe that voice should be easily enabled as well as provide a great experience for the end users, anywhere they are. At home, in their car, when traveling to their next client visit, when generating report etc.

Reach out to us and learn how to make your user interface Voice Enabled.

Follow us to Twitter;

Contact me for more;

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