THE VOICE ASSISTANT LANDSCAPE REPORT: How artificially intelligent voice assistants are changing the relationship between consumers and computers

BI Intelligence

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Advancements in a bevy of industries are helping intelligent digital voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa become more sophisticated and useful pieces of technology. 

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are allowing them to accurately understand more information, while upgrades to mobile networks are facilitating quick transfers of data to robust clouds, enabling fast response times. In addition, the swell of internet connected devices like smart thermostats and speakers is giving voice assistants more utility in a connected consumer’s life. 

Increasingly sophisticated voice assistants and the growing potential use cases they can assist in are driving consumers to adopt them in greater droves — 65% of US smartphone owners were employing voice assistants in 2015, up significantly from 30% just two years prior. Consumers are also eagerly adopting speaker-based voice assistants, with shipments of Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers expected to climb more than threefold to 24.5 million in 2017, according to a report from VoiceLabs.

However, there are still numerous barriers that need to be overcome before this product platform will see mass adoption, as both technological challenges and societal hurdles persist. 

In a new report, BI Intelligence explains what’s driving the recent upsurge in adoption of digital voice assistants. It explores the recent technology advancements that have catalyzed this growth, while presenting the technological shortcomings preventing voice assistants from hitting their true potential. This report also examines the voice assistant landscape, and discusses the leading voice assistants and the devices through which consumers interact with them. Finally, it identifies the major barriers to mass adoption, and the impact voice assistants could have in numerous industries once they cross that threshold. 

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Voice assistants are software programs that respond to voice commands in order to perform a range of tasks. They can find an opening in a consumer’s calendar to schedule an appointment, place an online order for tangible goods, and act as a hands-free facilitator for texting, among many, many other tasks.
  • Technological advances are making voice assistants more capable. These improvements fall into two categories: improvements in AI, specifically natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning; and gains in computing and telecommunications infrastructure, like more powerful smartphones, better cellular networks, and faster cloud computing.
  • Changes in consumer behavior and habits are also leading to greater adoption. Chief among these are increased overall awareness and a higher level of comfort demonstrated by younger consumers.
  • The voice assistant landscape is divided between smartphone- and speaker-based assistants. These distinctions, while important now, will lose relevance in the long run as more assistants can be used on both kinds of devices. The primary players in the space are Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Samsung’s Viv. 
  • Stakes in the competition for dominance in the voice assistant market are high. As each assistant becomes more interconnected with an ecosystem of devices that it can control, more popular platforms will have a sizable advantage. 

In full, the report:

  • Identifies the major changes in technology and user behavior that have created the voice assistant market that exists today. 
  • Presents the major players in today’s market and discusses their major weaknesses and strengths. 
  • Explores the impact this nascent market poses to other key digital industries. 
  • Identifies the major hurdles that need to be overcome before intelligent voice assistants will see mass adoption. 

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