Nithya Thadani, CEO of RAIN, a digital agency that specializes in voice and conversational AI, has both a Google and Amazon Alexa speaker in her home.
She recently bought another voice-enabled speaker, but before she could activate it, her 4-year-old daughter — who will grow up in a world accustomed to virtual assistants — approached the speaker and said “Alexa, Google,” and got no response. So she began tapping on it, asking: “Who are you? Who are you?”
“I thought to myself this is insane, but it speaks to a generation that will grow up in a world where they do not know anything other than voice enablement and how to interact with these devices,” Thadani said. “It should provide some feedback as to how brands should think about voice.”
Brands tend to think about the voice capabilities built into home speakers, but the technology will become the interface that the next generation — the voice generation of consumers — will use to search, buy and find information and products.
“Kids actually envision a little person in these devices, but that will change as they get older,” she said. “They will form a relationship with the assistant.”
Today, Thadani said, too many brands think of voice as a one-off road map. It should become a long-term one that includes content on their web sites.
So when Google pulls the answer to a question it comes from the brand, rather than an unreliable source. Optimization must include modifications for natural language, she said.
RAIN works with Nike, Nestle, Marriott, Blackrock, Starbucks and Unilever, among others.
The experience RAIN built for Starbucks allows consumers to order a coffee and pick it up at a nearby location. For Marriott, RAIN mined conversations to determine the type of language and words that people use when calling the front desk.