SMS out, artificial intelligence in – study

Published September 15, 2018, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

SMS (short messaging system) out, voice assistant in.




This is the new trend as artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of “voice first” assistants are invading households and even in select industries as humans gravitate to the easier “talking” than “typing” method of communication in a digitally-connected world.

Matt Cooksley, associate director for digital marketing at Grant Thornton International, said in a presentation before the 6th Grant Thornton Growth Series on its study on “How Digital Marketing can help achieve business strategic goals” that digital marketing trend is now shifting to marketing automation from the organic social media SMS and pure texting.

Some of the popular AI voice assistants are Alexa and Echo of Amazon, Google assistant, Siri of Apple, and Cortana of Microsoft. Google has remained the largest search engine.

According to Cooklsley, the organic social media is dying. Based on the study, 50 percent of all searches online will be voice searches by 2020.

“This is largely because talking is easier than typing and the behavior is normalizing because talking is the more natural thing to do,” he said.

A study, he said, also found out that text entry speeds, in words per minute (WPM), using speech were about 3.0 times faster than the keyboard for English (161.20 vs. 53.46 WPM) and about 2.8 times faster than the keyboard for Mandarin Chinese (108.43 vs. 31.31 WPM). Total error rates were also favorable to speech, with speech error rates being 20.4% lower than the keyboard error rates in English (2.93% vs. 3.68%), and 63.4% lower in Mandarin (7.51% vs. 20.54%). Thus, speech was demonstrably faster and more accurate than the keyboard.

While voice-based search plays a relatively minor role in most shoppers’ activities today, Cooksley said these tools appear to be gaining momentum. Voice combined with chat-based interfaces will become increasingly important for customer service and support.

Cooksley also cited a Gartner 2021 prediction which states that digital commerce revenue will increase by 30 percent through visual and voice search.

This is confirmed in a separate study Publicis: Sapient Shopping Report 2018, which showed that 38 percent of shoppers have used voice for at least one shopping activity while 12 percent of shoppers are very interested in ordering products by voice. Notably, 70 percent of smart speaker owners used voice for at least one shopping activity in the past three months.

The study also showed that 47 million of US adults have access to “voice first” assistant and 40 percent of adults now use voice search of at least once per day. In the UK, one in 4 households will own an Echo by the end of 2018.

While voice assistant is not yet that prevalent in the Philippines, Cooksley said that as the economy improves it will soon catch up.

A study by Think With Google also showed that the number of people globally who will use voice search daily will reach 1.6 billion by 2021.

“But we don’t need to focus on voice first assistants driving commerce, or even voice search, we simply must accommodate this growing trend by being visible in our product and service offerings,” he said.

Cooksley has urged enterprises and retailers to be ready with voice and what does voice really mean for their business.

This means that a critical driver of voice first take-up will be re-ordering and ongoing subscriptions because the machine has already accumulated enough data to analyze. For instance, an AI can detect a customer’s grocery basket based on his regular purchase in a store. The AI can now predict these items for delivery to their homes.

That is why Google and Walmart have entered into a partnership to make hundreds of thousands of Walmart products available to purchase through the Google Home.

The focus is on re-ordering based on previous shops, with the final purchase being completed on the Google home mobile app.

“Normalization of voice as an input is going to drive innovative uses of the technology, so we should keep thinking about what works for our businesses. We must move from thinking ‘mobile first’ to ‘A.I first’,” he said.

One interesting finding in his presentation is that mobile apps are becoming a thing of the past.
Only those apps that entertain and add value to customers are getting more users. The apps that are going to stay are those that are related to one’s financial accounts, like apps of banks.