|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
Small Business Voice Assistants
As smart speakers and connected devices gain momentum in consumer markets, they’re also making inroads among business users interested in increasing convenience and efficiency within their workplaces.
Devices such as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home and others are coupling advances in voice recognition, natural language processing (which helps computers understand the way people speak) and artificial intelligence to help business owners complete, and automate, a growing number of routine tasks.
These devices are increasing in popularity and usefulness as voice begins to replace keyboards and touch screens as the primary way we interact with computing devices in our homes, workplaces and vehicles. Just as phone- and tablet-based applications such as Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana increased the acceptance of voice commands for mobile users, speaker-based voice assistants are becoming more popular in business settings.
The main advantage driving the growing acceptance of voice-based assistants is that speaking commands or text is significantly faster than typing the same words on a physical or virtual keyboard. You’re also less prone to making typing mistakes, and if you’re entering a voice command, you don’t have to touch a device as long as you’re within shouting distance, you can control a device across the room.
Another advantage is voice services are increasingly being integrated into a variety of cloud applications such as Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, Ring Central and others allowing companies to leverage investments they’ve made in those platforms.
To increase small business acceptance, vendors are offering bundles of voice-controlled devices that can be connected and managed via a central console. The idea is you place some devices in shared locations, such as conference rooms, lobbies or kitchens, and others at individual workstations.
While the number of ways business users are taking advantage of voice-controlled devices continues to expand, some of the most popular uses include:
As the devices gain broader business acceptance, their uses are likely to expand. A device may not replace a human assistant completely, but for a growing number of business users, they can make the workday a little easier.
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