The launch of Alexa in Brazil is a digital turning point for homes and businesses.
Until recently in the world of the Internet of Things (IoT), where devices connect to each other using communications networks, the cell phone was our main remote control to interact with connected devices. However, it is being replaced by the new-old interface: language. The screens that have invaded our lives in recent years are being ditched for voice and written language.
In the last few years, a huge range of new channels were launched to help us communicate with each other and with brands. Consumers, who are less committed and increasingly informed, expect to be served using WhatsApp, Facebook or Google Assistant at any time and from anywhere. The feature these new channels have in common is that they are based on natural language, i.e. the most flexible and intuitive of all interfaces.
In the United States, which is the reference market for innovation, a third of people already use voice assistants on a weekly basis and a quarter of households own at least one voice assistant. In that scenario, a clear leader emerges: Amazon and its voice assistant Alexa, which is offered both through an ecosystem made up of its own Echo devices, as well as dozens of devices made by other manufacturers that have been growing relentlessly.
In fact, Amazon has recently launched new Alexa devices that include headphones, glasses and even a fingering. Today, Alexa has become the most successful platform in its category, both in sales and in the number of applications (or Skills, according to Amazon’s terminology) outdoing several times its main competitor, Google Assistant (and its range of Home devices).
Brands rush to offer their services through this new channel. There are already more than 100,000 Alexa skills worldwide. In Brazil, companies like LATAM and Itaú have gotten the message and their skills will be available as soon as Alexa has been launched. To pull off that feat, these companies had to go through a demanding approval process in which the user experience sets the tone.
To create a skill, a multidisciplinary team is required that combines the technical knowledge of Alexa’s technology with the know-how of experts in language and experience who know how to integrate the brand’s business, personality and tone into this new medium.
At everis, we already have acquired that knowledge, as we created skills for several companies from different sectors in Europe. One of the lessons we learned is that an experience aimed at a voice assistant like Alexa needs to be designed specifically for that channel. Not all features yield positive result when they are offered per voice. For example, we know that the most successful skills are those used in people’s daily lives and that the most sporadic ones do not perform well with that new channel.
The number of households that own voice assistants has been growing fast, exceeding the speed of other previous innovations, such as the computer or the cell phone. There is no turning back. These devices will inexorably populate each and every room of our homes, especially the living room, as they allow us to operate an increasing range of connected devices and to take advantage from an endless choice of voice activated services.
In face of that scenario, companies that aim to remain competitive cannot miss that opportunity. Investing in voice assistants has to be a strategic priority, as they are taking root as the latest progress in customer relations. We have definitely entered the era of conversations.