Listen up! Why your organization needs a voice technology strategy

woman-listening

Much like mobile devices a decade ago, voice technology is rapidly infiltrating the enterprise through employees looking for more ways to be efficient and productive.

Whether it’s an employee or customer, users are the driving force behind many emerging consumer workplace technologies. Voice is no different; Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, Siri, and others now are familiar voices in millions of homes and on millions of devices. Which means voice isn’t going to be a mere fad like that internet thing! It’s here to stay.

Sure, some enterprise employees just want to bring their own toys to work, regardless of whether they help them do their jobs better. But that’s part of the deal with the consumerization of the workplace, and it’s up to enterprise decision-makers to understand emerging technologies and establish sensible use policies, or just hope for the best (not advisable for security reasons alone!).

Over at Harvard Business Review, Bradley Metrock, CEO of Score Publishing, strongly advises enterprises to be proactive about voice technology, which he calls “a vast blue ocean of possibilities and potential.”

“What matters right now is for companies to test voice-first technology for themselves and begin to learn what works for their business and what doesn’t,” he writes.

The good news is there’s a familiar template for integrating new technologies into the enterprise. Step one is to assign “an internal champion” to spearhead a pilot project, Metrock says. This also may involve bringing in an external partner, but the point is to designate someone on the inside to be accountable for the initiative. The next step is to launch a modest pilot project that allows decision-makers to test, assess, and adjust as they learn more about the technology’s potential and limitations.

“A good initial project might be to take aspects of your company’s website, or other individual components of your company’s branding, and build a voice experience around those before moving on to more vanguard uses of voice-first technology,” Metrock says.

“Vanguard uses” of voice technology really means one thing: Uses that enable the business’s strategic goals, whether that’s to increase employee efficiency, improve customer service, or drive revenue.

If you’re tempted to delay making the jump into a coherent enterprise voice technology strategy, remember that your competitors may not be so reticent.

“It won’t be long before every company will be expected to own and manage its own voice-first presence and capabilities, much like every company is expected to own and manage their web presence and capabilities,” Metrock says.

Luminary Labs CEO Sara Holoubek and strategist Elizabeth Bowling argue that voice technology offers enterprises an “opportunity to rethink everything. Yes, everything.”

“The arrival of voice suggests that businesses must reconsider product design, partner relationships, and even organizational structure,” they write. “The entire enterprise must adjust and adapt — from legal frameworks to business processes — and every aspect of a company’s operations stands to benefit greatly.”

But only if voice technology is integrated intelligently and with a business purpose. And that means a sound strategy. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

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