In last year’s Cognition, Executive Director Yvonne Maher wrote about how the arrival of a smart speaker in her home impacted the way her family communicates. Now she sees Alexa beginning to change how we handle our money.
My kids still talk to Alexa all day long.
Alexa – will it rain tomorrow?
Alexa – sing me a song. A song? I’d love to.
Sometimes I have to switch the off button and claim the internet is ‘down.’ They ask Alexa questions that I – their Mum – am perfectly able to answer.
This is the future, where typing is too inefficient, Google searches too slow and phone calls are obsolete. Answers need to be delivered at the speed of Alexa. Welcome to Generation Voice.
Out of the speaker, into the world
Alexa – along with Google Home, Siri and their Chinese rivals – is rapidly spreading from a single speaker throughout the home. It can control microwaves, turn on lights and create recipes. Alexa is coming to the office. A new partnership with Marriott allows guests to order room service and change the light settings through Alexa.
The next stop for the smart speaker is the bank. J.P. Morgan’s corporate and investment bank research, including specific analyst research and stock tearsheets, is now available to clients through an Alexa skill. Morgan Stanley recently followed suit.
The limits of control
Voice-based technology works well in the home with simple instructions. But many common banking and financial advice functions remain out of reach. I recently put Alexa to the test.
Alexa – Where should I invest my money?
I can’t answer that right now.
Alexa – what’s the best bank? I can’t answer that right now. Here’s your nearest bank. Smart speakers still aren’t smart enough to provide the balanced, regulated analysis required of financial professionals.
Privacy and trust are other barriers to adoption. A recent PWC survey found that while consumers see voice assistants as the smarter, faster, and easier way to perform everyday activities, they prefer desktop or mobile interfaces for shopping or requesting a refund.
The future will be spoken
Voice technology is a seemingly unstoppable force. Ovum, a research firm, predicts the number of voice-activated assistants could equal the number of humans in just three years. It took cell phones 30 years to reach a level of market penetration that Alexa and her ilk will reach in 12. Voice technology is an imperative part of two, five and 10 year marketing planning.
So invite Alexa into your house. Gather insights into what feels natural and what does not with these devices. The pace of change is so rapid that fostering a culture of innovation is a must.
I have learned to live with Alexa in my life.
She’s even sometimes useful:
Alexa – How many eggs in a banana bread? Two.
One day I will be telling my grandchildren what life was like before Alexa and Google Home. A time when we used our desktop and mobiles to find answers – those were the days!