Voice Technologies: 3 Trailblazing Tools for Mobile Businesses

Want more customers? Build better communications. Sure, smartphones paved the way for texting and instant messaging, and internet bandwidth improvements made it possible for consumers and businesses alike to connect via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), but that was just the beginning.

A woman speaking on the phone at her desk, using a headset.
Voice technologies such as unified communications can benefit startups and traditional enterprises.

New voice technologies are on the horizon as the next big thing for mobile entrepreneurs and traditional enterprises. As noted by Business 2 Community, 20 percent of mobile queries are already voice searches, and ComScore predicted a 50 percent future by just 2020. The result? It's worth keeping an eye on emerging voice technology that could shift the market landscape.

Here's a look at three potential players:

1. Translation and Operation

Sure, the market's not quite at the "Star Trek" universal translator level just yet, but it's getting closer. As noted by C4ISR, the U.S. military is rolling out a digital translation solution known as the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS), that lets Army personnel communicate rudimentary concepts between two speakers. In private industries, meanwhile, solutions that rely on wireless earbuds and connected apps to deliver real-time translation are also gaining ground.

These are a step up in handling simple conversations, which leverage machine learning to improve accuracy over time. The edges of this technology have already made their way into line-of-business (LoB) operations with solutions such as visual voicemail, which transcribes voice calls into text and then sends the message via email. Expect strong growth in this area as global markets become key battlegrounds for corporate competition.

2. True Recognition

Ten years ago, PCs had a recognition problem: Understanding user voice commands was possible, but only after long periods of training and with minimal reliability. Advancements in this area have virtually eliminated this issue. Now, voice-based artificial intelligence (AI) can both interpret user questions and provide satisfactory responses.

Practical applications are starting to emerge. Conversational commerce has chatbots and other automated devices recognizing user input well enough to provide a rudimentary kind of natural back-and-forth. However, the ultimate expression of this current trend is virtual assistants, which are able to quickly and easily respond to most user queries with only limited context. For example, think Amazon's Echo, which The Economist reports has already made its way into 4 percent of American households.

Does this mean entrepreneurs should rush out and buy Amazon stock or fill their offices with Echoes for every potential query? Not quite. Instead, it speaks to the rising expectations for reliable speech recognition. For mobile-first organizations, it's possible to leverage this trend with interactive voice response systems via a call center or trusted third-party provider. This not only improves customer perception of your business as reliable and accessible, but it can help reduce total operating costs as well.

3. Unified Front

Another example of trailblazing voice technologies is unified communications. It's a big term that covers a lot of ground and comes with significant hype. For companies, however, going unified demands two concrete solutions: voice APIs and cloud controls.

When it comes to APIs, organizations should consider a solution that works with Android and iOS phones, empowers video calls, and most importantly, lets users keep their personal and business phone use separate. When staff members call customers, their business caller IDs are displayed to help maintain a professional corporate image.

Cutting-edge solutions empower a future in which corporate-facing unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) and consumer-focused communications-platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) are simply different models of that same cloud-based foundation. The takeaway for entrepreneurs and enterprises? Cloud-first mobile APIs are quickly becoming the de facto standard in both advanced unified communications systems and traditional voice communication.

Voice technologies are rapidly advancing as users look for more intuitive interaction and companies hope to streamline service and sales while entering new markets. To stay the course, organizations must be prepared to recognize the value of recognition and translation, while addressing the need for improved APIs.

Ready to learn more about the future of voice technology? Talk to a Vonage Business expert.

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