Voice is rapidly evolving. It’s amazing how far voice technology has come, but it’s nowhere near what it will ultimately be. That’s just one of many key take-aways from Voice Summit 2019, the self-described world’s largest voice event, where I moderated a panel and attended many sessions. After spending a week in Newark, New Jersey, with global thought leaders in this space, I wanted to share what I learned from this amazing event put on by Modev: 

  1. It’s still early

As we all know, voice is delicate. Without thoughtful design, experiences break easily. And while the learning curve is low, there still is one for voice. Precision is needed in commands to get the desired result. And adoption from brands is still a work in progress. At the event, Voices.com shared that half of marketers see no voice app in the horizon — they’re in “wait and see mode.” Right now they see the most potential with Alexa, on mobile, and in the car.

  1. The enterprise is next

Voice is evolving as mobile apps did: the first wave being fun applications followed by an explosion of business applications. In time, paying for mobile apps became common behavior from customers. Voice, too, is evolving to complex experiences with monetary value. With speech recognition and speaker identification enterprise applications occurring, voice is ready for business use cases.

  1. Voice is everywhere

Phase One with voice was about mobile adoption and uptake of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Now we’re entering Phase Two, with voice assistants being incorporated into all types of devices. Voice does not come down to choosing between Apple versus Android though, where you buy into an ecosystem. People will bring will countless voice assistants people into their homes, offices, cars, and stores. What it boils down to is this: voice is about speed. The challenge is to offer something that is easier and faster to do via voice.

It’s an exciting time to be in this space among the pioneers. But given where voice is today, while there is immense potential, over-promising can be very detrimental. It’s better to deliver something simple and lovable, iterating over time. For a deeper look, check out my highlights by day:

Day 1

  • Voice is about speed. Best skills allow you to do something faster via voice.
  • It’s better to deliver something simple and lovable instead of over-promising.
  • Because voice is new, having a help menu is helpful.
  • More men shop with voice than women today (source: Dashbot)
  • Voice apps with personality see increased engagement (source: Dashbot)
  • Sentiment analysis is challenging in that speaking to a voice assistant with a harsh tone doesn’t always mean you’re frustrated with the experience — you may just be tired
  • Amazon is working hard to make monetization easy. And the best part? In-skill purchasing (ISP) uses Amazon account default payment method. This is a simple buying user experience for the user and you
  • Synthetic voices are rapidly improving, cloning voices so they sound real (check out what Resemble AIis up to)

Day 2

  • 63 percent of marketers view voice assistants as an important voice channel (source: com)
  • For marketers, mobile is top of mind, followed by cars (1 million+ pre-orders, which allows you to go where people are)
  • Today voice is used to play music, jokes, etc. The next phase will be enterprise assistants (complex experiences with monetary value)
  • The smart speaker is not just a virtual assistant — it’s a lifestyle device
  • Voice is making authentication flows obsolete through speaker recognition

Day 3

  • A screen and voice approach can help change behavior and teach your users new patterns while you move to full-on voice experiences.
  • No brand is too small and no brand is too large to do sonic branding.
  • The sound you hear will influence your thought process.
  • Enjoyable conversations have spontaneity and personality.
  • With voice, we need to start with documentation and participatory design first.
  • Key topics this year have been accessibility, multimodal, empathy, personality, sonic branding, AI, and machine learning.

At Moonshot, we help organizations adopt voice technology to solve today’s business problems. Tools such as design sprints can help any organization test and learn with the right experience and metaphor in a way that keeps the audience at the center. Our white paper “Creating a Voice-Based Product with a Design Sprint,” gives you a sense of how we help our clients. To learn more, contact Moonshot. We’re happy to help you embrace a voice-first world.


Raika Sarkett

Raika Sarkett

Practice Lead, Voice