5 Predictions for Voice in 2019

Bixby, Apple, 500 million voice enabled devices and speed to market. Where do all these fit into our view of the voice landscape in 2019?

Charlie was recently asked to give some predictions for voice in 2019 by Mitra Sorrells who had interviewed him earlier in the year for a Phocuswire Feature. Here are our top 5 predictions for the voice landscape in 2019:

1) New entrants: Samsung have stated that all products they ship will be voice enabled by 2020.  We’ll start to see a lot of those come through next year and Bixby becoming a compelling platform for developers to engage with.  Samsung ship about 500 million products per year.  There will only be 100m smart speakers globally by 2018, don’t under-estimate Samsung.  Finally Apple, we still cannot build ‘voice apps’ for apple products, I hope that’ll change soon.

2) Things can only get better.  Voice products are mostly cloud based.  This means that they can, and are, improved every day.  This constant improvement philosophy gained popularity by “The Lean Startup” and I noticed the other day that Alexa took more that a little inspiration from the Lean Startup Logo:


The point here is that these services are improving at a pace.  The experiences we are able to achieve will only increase, adoption of voice enabled devices will lead to trust in the channel, just as we saw with mobile apps.  We will all be able to do more.

3) Multi-channel:  It’s not all about Voice.  I’ve spent the last 2 years giving talks on stage trying to explain that “The innovation is Natural Language Processing, not Smart Speakers or Chatbots”.  Since Feb 2017 my mantra has been that conversations have to be cross platform.  Voice is an additive interface, not one that will replace screens which have a valuable role to play.  I’m expecting that message to be more widely understood in 2019.

4) Complexity.  It will become better understood through 2019 that unlike the rise of mobile apps where digital agencies could skill up some developers in app build that developing compelling conversational experiences requires specialist knowledge.  Especially when you take into account point 3 above, deep platform knowledge is required to create compelling, persistent, conversational experiences and when you start to look at internationalisation a solid partner network will be required to truly localise experiences ‘cut and paste’ translation will not work.

5) References.  Speak to most innovation practitioners and they will tell you of the troubles of getting credible budgets to explore burgeoning technology.  We have seen in 2018 a rising tide of voice projects “getting away”.  These case studies will be shared around the community and the groundswell of brands realising they are losing market share through by not being present in these channels will bring the next wave of usage to the market.  Those who are already engaged will be on the front foot and building out the next generations of the interface.  I’ve always said that if technology is war the best weapon is speed.

About the author:

Charles Cadbury believes that everyone should be able to communicate seamlessly with the brands they love and is CEO and Co-Founder of Say It Now, a specialist technology company that helps brands take advantage of opportunities created by consumers shifting to conversational channels.