A major player in the game and increasingly moving towards local, Amazon has tapped into the power of voice for the golden age of AI. David Isbitski, Chief Evangelist for Amazon Alexa and Echo, sat down with the Brandify Summit attendees and Street Fight's David Hirschman to give insight into the mass adoption of voice, uses of voice-first products and Amazon's overall “everywhere” strategy.
The Adoption of Voice
Mary Meeker reported that 20% of web searches are via voice, and the number continues to grow. While initially, there was a resistance toward and a novelty stereotype placed on the adoption of this technology, the smart features that are being integrated into internet of things and assistant devices is changing this drastically.
Isbitski notes that context is what now possible through natural language understanding (NLU), whereas before, it was missing. Natural language makes voice the great equalizer and commonality for users, regardless of their behaviors, habits and capabilities.
Uses of Voice With Products
Along with adoption, there are interesting and various use cases in which individuals are beginning to utilize voice technology for themselves, particularly with Alexa. Isbitski mentions that utility is different when it comes to voice.
"If someone just going to do a general search or shopping query, they don't want a conversation about it. But when someone wants a specific thing, that speaks to a different type of utility," Isbitski said.
For users today, much of this utility can be offered in the home. This is a place where customers engage with them the most.
Amazon’s “Alexa Everywhere” Strategy
Echo is not the only channel through which Alexa can be accessed. As many developers and product strategists know, Alexa is a free and open technology for developers to teach it over twenty thousand new commands and skills.
Now, expansion of Amazon’s existing technological capabilities with Alexa and Echo seems to be the next movement of the company’s strategy. Naturally, these technologies can be expected to be integrated into various connected devices throughout a users’ home and elsewhere by utilizing the Amazon interface.
"What we're trying to do is provide you a way of talking and connecting naturally with your customer," Isbitski said. There are millions of people using Alexa and even more teaching Alexa's skills, and now, even the youngest digital natives are building her into their every day lives.
Visual search through even newer devices Echo Show drives even further context based on what things are customers are looking to do. While voice is the most natural way to give users the information they need, but add a different level of visual information without even needing to touch the screen.
Much like the early days of Mobile, use cases with voice are very much tied to skills to help a user immediately learn about their surroundings. Alexa can brief individuals about anything from flash briefing on local news to ordering a pizza nearby on Grubhub. The Amazon API allows developers to utilize this API to develop even more skills tied to local.