On the surface, the term ‘voice first’ sounds redundant. We all have a voice from the day we’re born, and we leverage it to communicate our needs, feelings, and thoughts. We use our voices first, so why should things be any different now?
Dialogue is basic, but t is finally being integrated into the modern user interface is. A voice-first development methodology involves companies creating technology that engages users through dialogue instead of code.
Now that we no longer have to learn how to interact with machines — whether by studying binary, developing a coding language, or figuring out which gestures work best to complete a task — we can create better businesses. A Gartner report suggests that 25% of digital workers will be using virtual employee assistants by 2021; that same percentage of employee app interactions will be voice-based by 2023.
The operational benefits of a voice-first approach are obvious, but its effect on corporate culture will be just as far-reaching. By embracing voice, startups and enterprises can improve their internal cultures and lower barriers to entry and efficiency. As voice becomes the last UI, a voice-first model can inject businesses with what they need to create an optimal — and ideal — company culture.
Natural language processing gives a voice to digital processes
One of the greatest challenges we face in the digital generation is building the bridge between the abilities of the human thought process and the possibilities that lie within autonomous technology, particularly how we teach our human-like understanding of words in context to machines. Natural language processing (NLP) is a step towards developing this autonomous ‘thinking’ capability.
Voice first can put employees first: The beginning of a beautiful relationship
Employees spend a lot of time talking at work, especially in meetings. That said, it’s awkward to have a single person stop interacting and take notes throughout a group discussion. Attempting to extract meaning from these meetings is a difficult task.
Voice-enabled technology can capture meeting notes and create a database of information for companies to use for any number of purposes.
Meetings aren’t the only place voice-first technology is making strides. Eventually, the voice revolution will affect all business workflows. This starts with call centers, where customer communication is a priority, and ends with integration into software that simplifies how employees manage projects.
Companies like Starbucks and Capital One already see the value of a voice-first approach. The methodology has helped Starbucks customers order without going through the drive-thru and allowed Capital One users to make payments and track spending.
While companies continue to smooth out these processes, this voice-focus also stands to influence company culture. Enterprises will use voice technology to improve the work environment and minimize distractions. It can improve rapport, fostering an office culture that encourages employees to be responsive and focused.
Speak it, and they will come
In today’s world of constant notifications, bright screens, and omnipresent social media, distractions are a given. Employees are always ‘on’ and feel they have to check their phones for every little ‘ding’ or pop-up. Such multitasking forces us to toggle between tasks, which can increase our frustration and how much time we sink into tasks; it also negatively affects our ability to be intelligent and effective.
CIOs believe business will move to a ‘voice first’ strategy
With voice technology, however, people no longer have to be glued to their screens to stay informed or take notes. Employees jot down notes and action items at a moment’s notice, allowing them to stay focused on the task at hand and disregard distracting tech during meetings and company events.
In turn, this lack of distractions will help employees build better internal rapport with one another. We already know that phone or face-to-face conversations foster better relationships than interactions through email, so it follows that a conversation without distractions is better for everyone involved.
A voice-first mindset helps enterprises foster environments that focus on AQ rather than just IQ. AQ is known as attention quotient, and it describes someone’s ability to get the most out of their productivity in both tasks and communications. With voice technology, businesses help employees practice mindfulness because there will be space to focus on their conversations and their overall job.
Voice can also tear down the silos some employees build around themselves. By removing the distractions of physical devices that force people to look at a screen, your employees can build interpersonal relationships with one another. Once your employees establish meaningful connections, they’ll better support each other’s ideas, be happier to take on tasks for one another, and be more likely to brainstorm ways to help the business grow.
Voice technology may only be in its beginning stages, but it has the potential to help businesses expand beyond their founders’ wildest imaginations via productivity and culture boosts. As voice continues to make waves, the results will leave business leaders speechless.
Cory Treffiletti is the chief marketing officer, Voicea.