Most people’s first association with voice recognition technology is Siri, Apple’s now-ubiquitous personal assistant. 10 years on though, the possibilities of AI and machine learning initiatives suggest that voice integration has a bright future ahead.

By Steve Briggs, chief sales and marketing officer at Seacom

While some naysayers will argue that “voice is dead”, the importance and extent of voice communications remains. It’s the how that’s changing.

Accessible communication, offering both businesses and individuals an always-on omni-channel experience, has never been more important than it is in our current context. Organisations are using voice technology as a more intuitive and engaging method of interacting with customers while reducing workforce costs as consumers continue to demand 24/7 convenience balanced with a personal touch.

Although services and advice are now being offered remotely, there is no reason for customers to feel neglected in the process. If anything, companies should be working harder at bridging the physical divide by offering their audiences even more opportunities to be heard, and ensuring that their connectivity capacity can support voice requirements.

Enabling agile expectations

Gone are the days of fixed desks in corporate environments. Organisations with agile workforces operating remotely rely on capable networks, Internet connections, and cloud services to support seamless communication channels. Employees want to be able to reach each other anywhere, and this also extends to voice.

There’s nothing more frustrating than needing to have an actual conversation with someone and not being able to because of inadequate Internet capacity. It’s up to business leaders to ensure that their employees aren’t being held back by systems that can’t keep up with changing demands.

When it comes to customers, they have come to expect multiple interactive and integrated communication touchpoints such as social media, website, phone, mobile, and in store. This applies to most companies, from small businesses to established enterprises. Without this omni-channel experience and the connectivity to support it, organisations are risking their reputations and longevity through frustrated or disengaged customers and a consistently poor customer experience.

Thanks to a convergence of technology, necessity, and demographic shifts, voice is in the unique position to become not just increasingly popular but the dominant user interface going forward. Is your business ready to embrace that future?

The era of voice

In an age of voice-enabled technology, which permeates both our personal and work lives, organisations must quite literally find their voice by deciding if, how, and where to integrate it into their business communication platforms. With the advent of technology like rich communication services and Google Voice offering users an enhanced messaging experience, consumer behaviour is changing, and demand for omni-channel communication is growing.

Consequently, many businesses would be remiss not to move with the changing business voice requirements by partnering with providers who supply trusted essential cloud based voice services. But what does this involve and what does it look like in practice?

Voice in action

Voice technology is not only used in business as a voice assistant tool to automate tasks and assist with general queries, it is also a highly effective tool for businesses to create efficiencies, drive down costs, and deliver better customer experiences – when used to its maximum potential.

Organisations will need to continue to focus on digital transformation, digitisation, and flexibility through investing in sophisticated technologies like voice to drive efficiencies and profitability for the future. As IoT applications continue to grow and multiply, there is much opportunity for new and innovative ways to connect, collaborate, communicate, and interact – both from a human and a machine perspective.

Future-proofing in an uncertain future

As businesses and individuals alike consider the future, the importance of voice technologies as part of wider digital initiatives will become crucial as we continue to discover and navigate our way through new ways of working and creating hybrid workforces, processes, and workflows.

Whether you’re looking at how customers want to communicate with businesses or how employees want to communicate with each other, voice will always have a role to play, but now it needs to be integrated into other channels too.

Connectivity is critical for both this integration and ensuring that customers and employees can access voice services, so make sure your business is prioritising it on its journey to harnessing the power of voice.