Siri recently switched from Google to Bing, but if Dag Kittlaus (co-founder of Viv) is to be believed, “conversation commerce”—powered by speech recognition based Intelligence Personal Assistants (IPA)—will completely replace search engines as the middleman for a large portion of our internet spending habits.
To the Unbelievers
You may not have heard of Viv, but you no doubt have heard of other more dominant IPAs: Siri, Cortana, Google Now, Facebook M, or Amazon Echo (a.k.a. Alexa). Given the current, limited capacity of these IPAs to affect your spending habits, it may be easy to dismiss the revenue potential of this technology.
But every tech giant is betting on this tech horse, with no small amount of money on the line. It’s not just tech corporations investing in IPA tech either. Companies like Hotels.com and Uber have already been participating in Viv’s 3rd party development for some time; and most recently Samsung bought Viv Labs in October of 2016.
Disruptive technologies that change our access to information and spending habits is not new. In the 80’s it was touch tone, phone answering systems changing customer service forever. Followed in the 90’s by that flash in the pan, ill fated, passing fad… the Internet.
Speech recognition on phones has already impacted internet marketing, bumping up the length and complexity of the average search phrase. Because speaking is so much easier than typing, using a full sentence for a web search doesn’t seem as much of a chore as it would with a keyboard.
The biggest advantage next generation IPAs have, is they will cater to people’s lack of time as well as the tendency towards mental laziness. If you have ever sent an email with speech recognition while driving, or watched Netflix on your phone (rather than go looking for the TV remote) you have lived one of the two mindsets that will fuel use of IPAs.
You Have to Buy in… to Profit
The sophistication lying under the hood of next generation IPA’s is like night and day compared to what you see on phones now. Currently it’s just speech recognition that pulls a search engine result. With the next generation, shopping for goods and services will be easier, faster, and less confusing.
“Flights to Toronto” will bring up ticket prices directly, instead of showing a list of web pages (some of which may contain prices and flights no longer available). Doing all this with a level of intelligence that is found only partially on search engines. Plus with the customer’s credit card securely preloaded into the app, there is no complex, nerve rattling checkout process to slash your conversion rates!
Unfortunately, to bring this upcoming power and sophistication to prospective customers, it will require dedicated investment in software development of your own 3rd party plugin that will socket into the larger ecosystem.
Google’s Sky Is Not Falling
While a large portion of Google’s AdWords revenue is at risk; as a company they will not die completely. Partly because Google has their own IPA (Google Now) and partly because of their investments in a range of unrelated emerging technologies under the care of their Alphabet holding corp.
Plus, isolated niche markets will generally be last to benefit from entering this arena. Especially including B2B industries; a sector that still leans heavily on cold calling and other phone based marketing! A tactic almost unheard of these days in the B2C sector.
Besides this, people are creatures of habit, and major cultural shifts like this have often been adopted only by the young—and a small slice of the “less young” crowd. A lesson learned all too painfully in early 2000’s by those who thought e-commerce would be adopted instantly.
Despite the internet forever changing how we acquire information, for many years after the dot com bubble burst, we continued to drive to stores to buy almost all our goods and services (a trend that has only shown a significant shift in recent years).
This Won’t Go Away
While IPAs won’t turn the world on it’s head tomorrow, if you stick your head in the sand regarding the impact of IPAs on your future marketing efforts, you may find yourself looking like a luddite caveman later. Like those who said they didn't need a website in the mid 2000s (and who were obviously mistaken), a change is coming, and a choice to adapt now can only benefit your business when IPAs become the status-quo. The ease and convenience of IPA technology means the odds of this only being a fad is slim.