“Business use of voice technology set to triple in next 12 months” states Pindrop study

No less than 85% of businesses surveyed by Pindrop (the voice security and authentication specialist) will use voice technology – such as Amazon’s Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana voice-activated assistants – to communicate with customers within the next year. Currently, only 28% of businesses do so, but the results of this survey clearly reflect great ambitions within industry to create a ‘Conversational Economy’ – an ecosystem where voice, not touch, is the main technology interface for customers.

Based on the study’s findings, the number of businesses planning to use voice to speak and listen to their customers will triple. Businesses also have ambitious long-term goals for using voice. Over two-thirds (67%) are planning to use voice-activated assistants for the majority of customer interactions, while nearly one-in-four businesses plan to use them for all interactions, reflecting a growing trust in the technology’s capabilities.

94% of managers see voice technology as an important driver of customer satisfaction, while 88% believe they’ll gain a competitive advantage by employing such technology. 57% feel that it will increase operational efficiencies, with the same percentage also believing that voice technology it will reduce the cost of each customer transaction.

While Alexa has dominated headlines around the ‘Conversational Economy’, enterprises are taking a more considered approach when introducing assistants into their business processes. Pindrop’s findings show that the most attractive and invested in voice assistants today and in the next two years for enterprises come from Microsoft, Google and Amazon versus some less attractive counterparts for current and future investment.

Voice Assistant Technology Voice Assistant Enterprise Investment in Next 2 Years
Microsoft Cortana 78%
Google Assistant 78%
Amazon Echo 77%
IBM Watson 69%
Apple Siri 68%
SAP Co-Pilot 64%
Samsung Bixby 62%

Security fears could slow growth

While respondents to the survey feel that voice technology will act as a boost to sales, there are also high levels of concern (80%) about the ability for businesses to keep the data acquired through voice-based technology safe.

Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO and co-founder of Pindrop, said: “People’s security, identity and therefore the wider ‘Conversational Economy’ is at stake as voice technology’s use increases. If businesses intend to use such technology for the majority of customer interactions in the near future, they need to make sure that this method of interaction is as secure as any other. At the moment, biometric checks can be easily fooled by a synthesised voice, while phone numbers that will be used to intercept virtual assistants can be spoofed. As voice-activated assistants increase in usage, you can be sure that attacks will follow.”

Executives clearly stated that security issues could stall the growth of voice-driven interactions. According to the research, security is one of the most important factors in how quickly the ‘Conversational Economy’ will grow. More than eight out of ten respondents (85%) believe that customer fears about the misuse of their data will slow the introduction of the technology. 82% of businesses predict that consumers will have concerns over fraud.

Balasubramaniyan added: “As we move on from touchpads and keyboards, voice technology will be the dominant driver that continues to transform lives and businesses. Where security and authentication are concerned, voice or fingerprint technologies should be prioritised over iris or facial recognition. However, in order to negate consumer fears and misuse of the data acquired by voice technology, there’s pressure on businesses to prioritise security to retain customer trust. Businesses focused on establishing trust with consumers will ensure the nascent voice industry blossoms and creates a new technological ecosystem. One that’s driven by the power of the human voice.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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