What voice technology can teach us about brand innovation in the age of Web3

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Technology adoption is accelerating at an incredible rate and chances are you’ve seen a technology adoption chart like this before. Takeaways are evident in revealing our insatiable thirst for new technologies. What begins as gradual sloping lines is very abruptly replaced by almost vertical adoption “curves” for technology introduced in the Internet age. While there is a confluence of reasons for the recent acceleration in penetration, for brands the promise of new technologies and the speed at which we are adopting them is a tantalizing prospect. New media, new experiences, and new value exchanges all theoretically contribute to deeper, more personal, and ultimately (fingers crossed) more profitable consumer relationships. But in pursuit of the “next big thing,” how do you know it’s the right time to start investing? How do you measure the benefit of being an early adopter when the immediate ROI is unclear?

Historically, brands have been inclined to jump on a tech trend as a tactic in search of strategy, when it should be the other way around. We see it again now with the rise of hype around Web3, NFTs and the Metaverse. As a conversational AI-centric company, we saw a similar surge in brand interest when voice assistants made the leap to the mainstream. Five years ago, we were asked to create dozens of Alexa Skills and Google Actions for brands, often without a clear strategy or sufficient funding to drive lasting success.

While Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri were initially largely responsible for the rise sensitization of voice, it is only after integration with other touchpoints – in cars, mobile apps, custom hardware products, to name a few – that we see the effects the most significant of the voice adoption. As this maturation has taken place, the herd of early experimenters has thinned, and companies that have invested in voice are doing so for the long term by investing in more comprehensive applications, acquiring companies with voice capabilities and hiring dedicated in-house assistant product teams. . The result is fewer branded voice apps, but more powerful and valuable ones.

We see parallels in this latest wave of experimentation with digital technology among brands, as we’ve seen with voice. Although the addressable audience in all “web3.0 virtual worlds” is currently only with 50,000 monthly users, brands are spending millions on virtual real estate, creating NFTs, and partnering to create the “kids metaverse” (who said they even needed one?). And why? FOMO? PR headlines for the brand? Long-term investments? From brand to brand, all of these reasons can be valid, but in the spirit of the parallels between this wave and what we’ve learned in guiding consumers and businesses toward voice-enabled adoption, there are few judgments to be made when evaluating when, how and why a brand should participate in what claims to be the next big thing.

Drive new technologies across your core business and brand with voice

It may not be revolutionary advice, but it is a surprising faux pas when new technologies arrive. Even though the voice experience market has matured, the first successful voice experiences were those that were at the core of the customer experience brands already offered. When creating Alexa Skills and Google Actions for brands like Starbucks and Nike, it’s revamping a must-order at Starbucks to handle in-store foot traffic, or a surprise sneaker release through a partnership. media that moved the needle and supported their day. -day-to-day businesses. At the same time, fashion brands creating digital styles for avatars are an extension of the value exchange currently in place in the physical world and represent a strong first-mover advantage and brand building opportunity, but can we say the same for toilet paper NFTs?

While the early skills and actions developed by Starbucks and Nike were not necessarily essential business channels today, these early efforts allowed organizations to become familiar with the underlying capabilities and requirements of voice – like mastering custom NLU models or establishing devops and partnerships – to support long-term initiatives. By starting small to support their core business, they were able to build on their early pilots rather than just generating fleeting buzz with no real KPIs or strategic value. Instead, they created stronger connections between their brand and their audience without the missteps; it is for this purpose that the metaverse and web3 should be explored for brands that are starting out.

Experiment and invest: develop depth rather than breadth

Five years ago for a brand, getting into voice might have meant something like achieving wide reach by having a voice experience with your customers on as many smart speaker/voice assistant platforms as possible, by taking advantage of an underlying coherent interaction. model around a central service.

But as the market has matured further in recent years, the “all-inclusive voice” for brands and businesses has shifted from achieving cross-platform reach to forming a rigorous technology strategy. The depth of useful strategies covers skill building in domain-specific language models, low-latency speech recognition, voice sentiment analysis, and, mentioned earlier, the development of brand-owned personalized assistants. By gradually deepening available technologies over time, brands can deliver more valuable experiences in both physical and digital relational environments. This strategy has been deployed effectively in financial services with brands like Bank of America, which iteratively improved their voice assistant Erica year-over-year with incredible gains and technology acquisitions from brands like Peloton, Sonos and Microsoft which have made considerable progress. specialized acquisitions play for robust technology capabilities that respectively shape their customer experience, hardware and vertical technology strategies.

Since 2018, job creation and demand for Web3-related roles have steadily increased by several hundred percent per year, due to the relative the birth of technology and the promise of what those skills will usher in; and the expected demand in the coming years is expected to be even higher. The opportunity to explore these technologies – either internally or through partnerships – should help brands looking to go “all-inclusive” bide their time while ensuring that the virtual and physically augmented experiences they aim to support can truly match their ambitions without stumbling over a short-sighted goal.

The rise of voice over the mainstream provides lessons for brands as they consider their relationship with Web3 and the tactics for approaching the augmented worlds of the future. And it’s clear that the story of voice versus these technologies is one of convergence, as evidenced by next-gen projects like Meta’s own announced ambitions to build a voice assistant for the metaverse that “wows Alexa and Siri”, among others. Yet, as the crypto wallet becomes as ubiquitous as the mobile app, we know what we’ll see: big tech and big brands leading and inspiring FOMO, some of the early “innovators” hitting the reset and the inevitable leap- sheep and the success of patient observers and knowledgeable early adopters with a long-term vision.

Dale is Senior Director at RAIN

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