With sales of voice devices predicted to hit over 50 million this year, voice is being touted as the biggest consumer tech disruption since the smartphone. And where consumer tech goes, enterprise follows, as we saw with BYOD, social media, and tablets. The global voice tech industry is expected to reach US$126.5 billion by 2023.
In the consumer world, Amazon's Alexa, Google's Asssistant, Microsoft's Cortana and Apple's Siri are gaining considerable attention and making it clear why sophisticated voice-controlled applications can be beneficial.
Voice user interfaces (VUIs) aren't just for the consumer arena. Though still in their early days for enterprise software, such as ERP, VUIs hold promise in making some work tasks easier and improving workflow in situations such as when mobile workers need hands-free access to important data.
VR integration in enterprise software is about more than just updating a business with the latest tech. The true value of VR integration in a business setting is the instantaneous access to data that it offers.
Tech giants like Google and Amazon are already experimenting with APIs that allow enterprise businesses to link their CRM and ERP systems to voice-activated controls. This grants users access to their company’s entire database of customer information and business data, all with a simple voice command.
Imagine the different ways this technology could be used. Executives will have always-on connectivity with their databases while giving presentations, during travel, or during performance evaluations. With access to sales, finance, or operations data through VR channels, executives will never lack information during key periods of decision-making. This access to information reduces risk by empowering employees and improving performance, but the benefits don’t stop at mere database access.
As project management APIs continue to evolve and expand the capabilities of VR-enabled software, business owners will also be able to personalize their data feeds. Similar to how modern social media algorithms display custom news feeds of relevant information, VR-enabled software can be customized to present entirely new feeds comprised of varying data sets unique to each organization. These may include real-time project update news, status reports, critical alerts, sales invoicing, and more.
Combine this with an increasing focus on cloud integration, and the benefits of VR-enabled technology for enterprise companies is clear. With always-on connectivity and access to a company’s entire knowledge at the sound of a voice, VR is primed to disrupt business process optimization.
Best practices for enterprises looking to add VUIs
Start simple. Look at how voice user interfaces are being used in the consumer world, observing the commands and then using those lessons to justify and inform VUI projects, such as on boarding a new hire. Find success with a couple of simple experiments before moving on to more complex workflows.
Think about the environment. Where are users going to be accessing the information, and what are they going to be doing? Start with the conference room and executives with offices before thinking about more common uses.
Don't forget about security. As VUIs become more commonplace in the workplace, expect to see numerous security issues arise as a result of security being an afterthought of the build. Make sure security is top of mind while building to prevent security and privacy issues down the line.
The point of voice technology is to make working better—more efficient, less stressful, safer, and maybe even fun—and coming innovations in voice will be part of the future of work.
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