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  Technology   Gadgets  27 Aug 2018  The rise of voice assistance across sectors in India

The rise of voice assistance across sectors in India

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published : Aug 27, 2018, 5:10 pm IST
Updated : Aug 27, 2018, 5:10 pm IST

The integration of voice search technology on devices is fuelling the development of smart homes and integrated smart devices.

Even as brands wake up to the multifaceted realm of AI-powered voice assistants, the technology continues to evolve, expanding to impact newer businesses.
 Even as brands wake up to the multifaceted realm of AI-powered voice assistants, the technology continues to evolve, expanding to impact newer businesses.

Voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana are steadily transforming the personal and professional space of modern mankind. Following these, several ‘Skills’ or ‘Actions' which are the app equivalent of the smartphone, are constantly being built on top of such voice assistant platforms which leverage AI, and natural language processing, to change the way we interact with computers.

The statistics for the voice-first interactions are encouraging:

1. As per a PwC Fitch Trends Report (India) 2017, in the last year, global investment in AI applications touched $5.1 billion, up from $4 billion in 2015

2. In 2017, Google estimated that 28 per cent of searches from mobile devices were done using voice in India.

3. Amazon’s Alexa has over 25,000 Alexa skills (voice functionalities) from a wide range of companies like Ola, Zomato, Art of Living, HDFC, etc.

The integration of voice search technology on mobile devices and smart devices is fuelling the development of smart homes and integrated smart devices. Beyond mainstream usage, voice-guided interfaces have tremendous benefits for those with visual and cognitive impairments. Even as brands wake up to the multifaceted realm of AI-powered voice assistants, the technology continues to evolve, expanding to impact newer businesses. Some of the key sectors that have embraced the Voice assistants to transform customer experience are listed as under:

Real Estate:

With Google Home Alexa Echo, the smart home experience for individual homeowners is being made widely available by real estate developers.

Although in a nascent stage, the application of AI integrated voice assistants is facilitating:

- Voice search using keywords to filter applications and for listing property

- Fixing and confirming appointments with tenants

- Pre-Qualifying leads by asking a specific set of questions

- Providing potential tenants an initial briefing of the property, based on their requirement

- Listing of and selling a smart home powered property

- Facilitating voice search of an internal database of tenants/ property listings

Further, Google Voice assistant and Amazon Alexa are already working on creating more specialised skills/ platforms for real estate agents and managers, that is set to shape the future of the real estate business, adding value, efficiency and accuracy to the home buying/ leasing experience for both, the tenants and the agents.

Hospitality:

The voice assistants are significantly driving the change in the hospitality industry and are already considered to be one of the most exciting trends in hotel marketing and distribution strategy. From driving positive customer experience across hospitality locations, the smart technology is galvanizing the sector in preparation for evolving consumer behaviors and technology advancements.

Some key features that are helping property owners make the best of the voice search and AI integrated digital assistants are:

- Providing a voice-first experience to its guests

- Providing tools for improving employee productivity

- Assist in property management, ticketing, and guest engagement solutions

- Manage hotel reservations and bookings, with alerts on occupancy

In terms of customer engagement, voice assistants are driving the hospitality service experience by:

- Providing comfort as a personal assistant in the hotel room

- Enabling guests to place requests like housekeeping, room service, control lights and other devices etc.

- Check airport wait times, play games, get a guided workout, and more

- Access information on local events, sightseeing options and recommend restaurants

- Assist in hotel bookings and reservations as well as navigation around the area

- Facilitate guest access to hotel amenities

While Amazon is already working on creating specialized Alexa for Hospitality skills, Google has been working towards providing an advanced voice search experience that is integrated with its features like Google maps, calendars, a directory of local businesses and navigation features. With the rising value of enriched customer experience, hospitality brands are driving the development of new age digital assistants, bringing in greater customization while expanding its realm of service.

BFSI

The BFSI segment is another large sector that is focused as much on customer engagement as on the integrated and intelligent use of technology. The evolution of voice assistants in this sector is of key significance, as the sector has in recent years, undergone rapid disruption. From the rise of e-commerce, digital payment gateways, leveraging big data for risk assessment, mortgage, loans, investments and insurances to the accelerated rise of mobile banking and virtual wallets, banking has been one of the largest and fastest consumers of latest technology advances.

Mobile banking has helped reshape interactions between banking institutions and their consumers, by integrating virtual chat assistants into their mobile banking offerings. The introduction of AI-powered voice assistants is the next step towards making these mobile-first interactions more seamless and natural. Some key voice assisted features that are significantly impacting customer engagement can be largely divided into three categories:

Account information

- Facilitating abled and blind/ senior citizens to check account balance

- Get due date reminders on bill payments

- Track spending

- Mobile phone recharge

- ATM locations

- Check interest rates on loans/ mortgage/ investment

- Check offers on credit cards/ debit cards

- Seek market updates

- Get information on a particular stock

Transactions

- Make payment

- Pay Bills

- Transfer Money

- Order a checkbook

- Invest in stock markets/ other investment tools

Financial Advice

- Get details on Monthly savings required for specific spending goals

- Consultation on systematic investment plans

- Gather information and compare investment/insurance/ savings tools for best returns

- Calculate a savings plan for retirement

While the above may seem routine features, these are significantly changing the ease of transaction and assisting visually impaired, disabled and senior citizens to have complete access to their financial assets and enabling them to take charge of their finances.

With the era of voice first digital experiences and the shifting values of customer-centric business applications, the Business 4.0 approach is transforming the way technology is consumed and experienced. While voice is driving this, there is still a huge service gap in terms of non-English language inclusions. Especially for a country like India, that has over 400 million Hindi speaking audiences and very little quantum of content available in the non-English format.

— Sreeraman Thiagarajan, Co-founder of Agrahyah Technologies

Tags: voice assistance, alexa, cortana, google assistant, uses of smart speakers