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Companies and Consumers Shift Focus Towards Voice Technologies

Voice technology continues to rise and is quickly becoming the norm for all brands looking to reach and better engage consumers.

Assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant are becoming staples in our everyday lives and are promoting the adoption of voice technology. Despite concerns about accuracy and privacy, the outlook for voice and virtual assistants is mostly positive.

A recent study by Adobe Analytics found that 91% of business decision makers surveyed said they already are making significant investments in voice, while 94% said they plan to increase their investments in the upcoming year.

Smartphones Get the Majority of Activity

The survey doesn’t carefully distinguish smartphone and smart speaker use cases. However, it does make it clear that most activities identified in the study are happening on smartphones — 85% of respondents said they had use voice technology on their smartphones, while 39% said so for smart speakers.

In terms of usage frequency, 44% of respondents said they use voice technology in some form daily.

Frequency of voice assistant use from Adobe Voice Technology study*Image source: Adobe Voice Technology Study, July 2019

Satisfaction with voice technology is also high, according to the survey. A remarkable 79% of consumers agreed with the statement “voice technology improves and contributes to my quality of life,” and 92% agreed that “voice technology saves time.”

However, that satisfaction was subdued by complaints about accuracy and comprehension. Respondents indicated that voice recognition technology accurately responds to a question or command only 69% of the time.

Voice Activities Expanding Beyond Music & Weather

People are using voice for a wide range of straight forward tasks, including driving directions, phone calls, texts, checking the weather and playing music. But most say they wouldn’t use it for more complex tasks like personal banking (61%) or booking travel (52%).

Chart showing potential uses of voice assistant technology*Image source: Adobe Voice Technology Study, July 2019

Here is the hierarchy of how people are using voice technology:

  • Listening to music – 70%
  • Weather forecast – 64%
  • Asking fun questions – 53%
  • Online search – 47%
  • Checking the news – 46%
  • Alarms/reminder – 46%
  • Basic research – 35%
  • Asking direct questions – 34%

A set of emerging smart speaker activities were also listed:

  • Making calls – 36%
  • Smart home commands – 31%
  • Shopping/ordering items – 30%
  • Food delivery/takeout – 17%
  • Flight/hotel research – 16%

 

Some Concerns Still Remain

Although there’s an increase in use of voice assistants, consumers still have major concerns about privacy and accuracy, but also identified “user experience challenges” as top issues.

Accuracy of voice recognition is a top concern (83%) followed by privacy (81%) and “user experience challenges” at 71%. Another recent survey from NPR and Edison Research supports this idea.

Chart showing issues related to voice assistant use*Image source: Adobe Voice Technology Study, July 2019

Ultimately, voice assistants have the potential to transform the way we approach our interactions with personal technology and brands. The survey presents a positive outlook of the state of voice, with consumers expressing strong satisfaction with some concerns about privacy and accuracy. Consumers also seem to be open to more complex range of future uses of voice, offering specific recommendations for new features.