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Voice technology ‘no longer an option’ for businesses as COVID-19 propels market forward

By Catherine Knowles
Thu 5 Nov 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Australian businesses lead APAC in the use of voice technology, but there is more work to be done in the area, a new report from Cognizant has found.

A swift move to voice technology

The report states that COVID-19 has prompted the ‘technology moment’ for voice.

Of those surveyed, 93% of Australian respondents believe the shift from touch to voice will only accelerate further in the future and 78% (APAC regional average 74%) view voice as important or extremely important for their brand's future success.

In fact, the report states that voice is no longer optional. Australian businesses are leading the rest of APAC, with 22% of respondents saying they already have a formal voice strategy in place.

Moreover, within the next one to two years, another 53% of businesses (APAC regional average 50%) will join those ranks, further advancing Australia’s lead in voice strategy and implementation.

The technology also means more money for businesses, according to Cognizant. On average, Australian companies plan to spend 3% of their revenues on building voice capabilities in the next five years.

This comes with a high expectation on returns, with businesses aiming to drive 6.5% of their revenue through voice during the same period.

To get there, Australian companies have prioritised three top focus areas to maximise value from voice: quicker response to customers (64%); elevating customer service levels (60); and enabling personalised experiences (57%).

The report also finds that AI is the catalyst behind a successful voice strategy, with 70% of Australian businesses (vs. APAC regional average of 75%) eager to leverage AI (natural language processing, machine learning and other AI technologies).

Potential challenges

In addition to implementing their various strategies, companies are getting prepared for the challenges ahead.

Data privacy (87%), shortage of required talent and knowledge (84%) and developing a voice personality (80%), are the top three challenges companies face or anticipate on their voice journey.

Only 39% of Australian companies (APAC regional average 40%) are confident about their ability to integrate voice with existing business processes.

Overall, IT infrastructure readiness is the biggest concern, with 73% of respondents in Australia saying this is essential for their voice strategy's success, however, only 27% are confident their IT infrastructure is ready.

Banking and financial services (25%) and insurance (26%) companies are least confident about their IT infrastructure readiness to support real-time voice experiences.

A pivotal moment in history

Cognizant associate vice president Center for the Future of Work, Asia Pacific, Manish Bahl, says, “Future generations will no doubt look back on COVID-19 as the moment in human history when voice moved from a gradual journey, to a sudden adoption.

"Voice will trigger a lifetime change in the way we live, work and play, fundamentally changing the brand landscape and how consumers are influenced to make decisions.

"Now, with Australian consumers adopting smart speakers at a faster rate than their US counterparts, businesses are beginning to realise that a voice strategy is no longer optional, it is essential to remain relevant and competitive."

Bahl says, "Our research shows that Australian businesses are in a strong position to lead the rest of Asia-Pacific in voice adoption, however, there is more progress to be made in the digital maturity of its underlying technologies like AI.

"Businesses that accelerate this maturity and adapt to the shift toward voice will enjoy a level playing field among competitors, regardless of size.”

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