I have written articles and commented quite a bit about Amazon Alexa and voice based conversational experiences in the media over the past 12 months.
To date there are over 10 million Alexa powered devices in consumer homes and that number is about to increase significantly with Alexa Voice Services integrating in everything from cars such as Ford Sync 3 system to mobile handsets.
Here is an example of Alexa integrated into the Ford Sync 3 system rolling out in various Ford models this fall.
Regarding Alexa skills, skills are to Alexa like apps are to mobile, when I first met with the Amazon Alexa partner team a year ago there were barely 1,000 skills published. As of today there are over 10,000 with that number continuing to increase.
In addition to skills the shift towards voice based experiences has already begun. In 2014, voice search traffic was negligible. Today it exceeds 10% of all search traffic and virtual assistants exceed 50B voice searches per month.
That number is going to continue to accelerate as it’s projected by 2020 to be over 200 billion searches per month will be done with voice. Quickly voice will be a key horizontal channel and central to a converged user experience.
What most don’t realize though is that while most experiences today are zero UI/voice only experiences, the next evolution of voice based systems will be voice + paired visual experiences.
This will ultimately be driven by new hardware that integrates screens, but initially will be driven by responsive web experiences that are powered by Alexa and hands free.
Soon virtual assistants such as the Sony XPERIA Agent shown here at MWC 2017 will have integrated screens to enhance voice + visual.
Voice based skills will be able to showcase information visually by aligning the voice intents with visual queues to create a voice controlled experience that is seamless and enhances the experience.
From highlighting dynamic content to video content, an Alexa skill can easily answer a query and showcase solutions that highlight complex solutions or highly visual elements such as what a recipe should actually look like vs. having to visualize it in ones mind.
Visual queues on the page can also enhance what a user can do with Alexa such as highlighting other related intents such as repeat, help, next steps etc… via a responsive web experience.
This is one of the challenges with pure voice experiences as the user doesn’t always know what their options are to to further engage different aspects of a given skill.
Voice + Visual can also enhance long term engagement which is currently the biggest barrier of Alexa experiences. By considering visual + voice content it is feasible to extend into more entertainment mediums that can be controlled and enhanced via voice.
Voice + Visual also has an impact on the type of data that can be gleaned from progressive profiling and opens up new ways to deploy existing content assets into a system based/virtual assistant driven journey.
I have literally seen the future through a first of it’s kind example of voice (Alexa) + visual (Responsive web) and it is mind blowing. I can’t show it publicly yet but it will reframe your approach to voice based strategy.
Will update this post once the 1st voice + paired visual experience skill is published shortly with visuals.
Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360
I recently attended Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco and the event did not disappoint. Mark and the Facebook team outlined their approach to a ten year roadmap, launched the highly anticipated Messenger chat bot beta and showcased their first concepts of a social virtual reality experience.
The presentation below covers:
• The 10 year roadmap analysis
• The Rise of Chat bots
• Immersive Experiences & Social VR
The 10 year Roadmap
This was the 10 year roadmap presented at F8. It follows the lifecycle continuum approach outlined in the previous slide.
Facebook proper is the most mature and has a thriving 3rd party ecosystem as well as a sustainable monetization model.
Messenger has been identified as the next ecosystem with powerful tools that were released at F8 2016 to drive conversational commerce and a new approach to replacing apps..
VR, Connectivity and AI represent the near future for Facebook and Social VR will be a key area to watch. Developing strategies that capitalize on creating value today while experimenting for the future is key.
For analysis on Facebook’s 10 year roadmap including Facebook’s approach to product lifecycle, Facebook proper, the Live video API, approach to connectivity, artificial intelligence and Facebook’s investment in hardware and open platforms view slides 4-12 in the embedded slideshare.
The Rise of Chatbots
With 900M users and over 1 billion messages sent per month, Facebook felt that Messenger has progressed through their continuum approach to product lifecycle and now has hit the inflection point of scale to build out an ecosystem to solidify and sustain Messenger as the go to mobile application.
The key is that Messenger will support one bot to many pages. This makes it easy to seamlessly connect brands or services in a portfolio to create compelling and unique experiences that are 1:1.
Since Facebook does not own the mobile hardware or the operating system, they are positioning Messenger threads as a replacement for native apps.
For in-depth analysis of chat bots including an overview, conversational commerce, the send & receive API, wit.ai, discovery within Messenger, promotion and conversational advertising view pages 14-22 of the embedded slideshare.
In addition to this POV our Epsilon agency team wrote a comprehensive eBook that launched when Facebook announced the Messenger Beta. The ebook covers the shift from social media to messaging and the role data, chat bots and conversational commerce will play for brands.
Virtual & Augmented Reality
Facebook states that virtual reality is the next evolution of computing and is heavily invested in the hardware and experiences that will comprise aligning technology with presence.
During F8 Facebook outlined a path forward for active VR experiences, demonstrated social VR concepts for the first time publicly and identified augmented reality as a viable disruptor for the first time as to date all the conversation has been about VR experiences.
Virtual Reality experiences are coming and the key will be empowering consumers to create their own immersive experiences. Facebook’s long term goal is to create completely virtual experiences that recreate the physical world. For now wave 1 will be avatar based.
For in-depth analysis of virtual reality including an overview of the role of the Gear VR in the ecosystem, Oculus Touch, the first public demo of Facebook’s Social VR concepts and the bets of the future review slides 23-29 of the embedded slideshare.
For more insights and analysis follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360
Today at F8, Facebook made the formal announcement to beta launch 3rd Party Chat bot support for Facebook Messenger. I have written a few articles on this topic and have consolidated the thinking into an eBook.
Social media—and now social messaging—is a path to understanding and being in a relationship with your customers. Social messaging is poised to become the most direct, direct marketing channel, creating immediate 1:1 conversations with customers.
As consumer behavior shifts toward more intimate forms of communication and away from public sharing, we’re seeing social messaging apps become more popular than networking apps. Social messaging apps are the new lifestyle platforms, where consumers can do everything from booking a vacation or ordering food to checking traffic giving rise to a new form of commerce.
This white paper provides a deep-dive into:
1) Shifting consumer behaviors towards social messaging,
2) The potential impact of these changes driven by chatbots and conversational commerce
3) Proposed best practices and future considerations.
Follow Tom Edwards @Blackfin360