Reading list: 10 articles that make sense of the ‘voice-first’ future

Voice-enabled solutions are rapidly becoming part of our everyday lives. Amazon is expected to sell 113 million Echo devices over the next few years, and competitors — including the Google-Walmart alliance announced last month — are offering their own devices and incentives to inspire consumer adoption. As “voice-first” technology transforms the way we live, uses will shift from managing playlists to managing purchases to navigating healthcare. Startups and investors are hot on the trail: Betaworks hosted its first voicecamp accelerator earlier this year, Snips is an “AI voice platform” using voice to “make technology disappear,” and Mozilla wants to open it up. There’s even a voice design agency.

The implications for organizations are manifold. Search engines changed how we approach writing, marketing, and understanding intent. Mobile devices changed the way we design interfaces, interactions, and experiences. Voice technology stands to make a similar impact, and those who neglect to prepare for the seismic shift risk losing out just like those who fell behind on search or missed the mobile wave.

What might come next, and what does this mean for your organization? As we’re increasingly called upon to help executives make sense of emerging technologies like IoT, AI, and voice recognition, these 10 essential reads are on our radar:

  1. The state of voice in five charts (Digiday) — From market share to demographics to the top use cases, this piece offers a quick look at where we are now.
  2. The end of typing: The next billion mobile users will rely on video and voice (Wall Street Journal) — Ready to go deep? Wireless penetration dramatically increased internet participation around the globe. Voice will help usher in the next billion, who may very well leapfrog the rest of us.
  3. Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant are just the beginning: Voice is the future (ZDNet) — Maybe you already know voice is the future, but your organization thinks it’s a shiny object. Share this one with your CIO to identify a use case and start testing today.  
  4. Get ready, the smart speaker market pioneered by Amazon’s Echo is about to get crowded (Recode) — Amazon is in the lead … for now. Grab your popcorn and get ready for a showdown, as nearly every tech platform and device vendor jostles for position in the smart speaker game.
  5. Why voice tech is about to see major love from VCs (Startup Grind on Medium) — Venrock VC Alon Bonder explains why voice is a transformative technology trend that could lead to big business.
  6. Voice User Interface Design: New solutions to old problems (Microsoft Design on Medium) — A user experience designer introduces the emerging field of voice user interface (VUI) design.
  7. Marketers, prepare: Voice search is growing (SmartBrief) — If you thought SEO was all about text, think again. Goodbye, keyboard. Hello, digital assistant.
  8. Adobe introduces voice analytics for digital assistants (VentureBeat) — With marketing comes analytics. And every marketer will want those analytics to account for the voice customer journey.
  9. Google and Walmart are partnering on voice shopping in a challenge to Amazon’s Alexa (Recode) — Voice shopping is here. Once we start buying everyday items via voice, all other types of transactions won’t be far behind.
  10. Former Microsoft exec reveals why Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant beat Cortana (The Verge) — The hardware is just one consideration. Winning requires an AI-first approach.

What are you reading to get up to speed on voice technology? Share your links with us on Twitter: @luminarylabs.