In response to the COVID-19 crisis, businesses have been focused on ensuring strong collaboration for their remote workforce by adopting new technologies such as modern intranets, cloud, and AI.
However, now, when lockdowns ease but COVID-19 continues to loom, businesses need to start thinking about bringing employees back to the workplace while ensuring social distancing and physical safety. Given that almost every surface has the potential to carry and transmit the virus, the way employees interact with the built environment has to be reimagined.
Voice technologies and contactless interfaces can be the key enablers in establishing safe working environments and ensuring customer experience. In this blog, we’ll discuss how companies can use voice assistants in the new normal.
A voice assistant is a software that uses voice recognition, language processing algorithms, and voice synthesis to understand voice commands and deliver responses or perform tasks. Voice bots initially gained popularity in the consumer electronics industry with the launch of smart speakers like Google Home, Amazon Echo, etc.
Back in 2016, chatbots and voice bots weren’t a top priority when a company implemented an ERP or HR solution. But now, as more enterprises realize the business benefits of bots, providing an easy-to-use, conversational interface has become a norm. In the past few years, we’ve seen several enterprises deploy voice assistants for use cases like IT helpdesk, HR operations, customer service, sales, etc. By 2021, Gartner, Inc. predicts that 25 percent of digital workers will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) on a daily basis. This will be up from less than 2 percent in 2019.
A 451 Research report has predicted voice bots to become the top investment choice for businesses as their workforce returns to offices. Let’s discuss why.
We can’t go about our regular business like we used to amid this pandemic. It’s no longer safe to touch even everyday objects like doorknobs which could potentially expose us to the virus.
Many companies had already been exploring the potential of voice technology at their workplace even before the pandemic. Now, voice technology would have a huge role to play in this redesign of offices. Voice-activated controls can be utilized in office entry and exit points, elevators, meeting rooms, shared office devices to reduce the amount of physical contact needed to navigate in the workplace.
Use cases like integrating meeting room equipment with voice-enabled virtual assistants like Microsoft Cortana, Alexa For Business, Google Assistant will become more popular. With these integrations, employees can give voice commands to perform tasks like managing meetings, and controlling conference room devices and settings – temperature and lighting, etc. Last year, we could have thought of these as “nice to have” but these are now imperative for a safe workplace.
Social distancing will continue to be the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available. Thus, retailers will need to ensure business continuity without compromising the health and safety of their consumers by minimizing physical contact.
COVID-19 has pushed automation for all industries, nudging them towards digital transformation. Many businesses such as Amazon have adopted tap card payments to ensure contactless transactions but the physical interaction can be further minimized with voice technology.
Voice automation is being adopted at a rapid rate across multiple locations and industries. Businesses in industries such as airports, restaurants, retailers, etc. have seamlessly adopted voice bots to power their customer interactions while ensuring social distancing and high customer experience.
Remote workers can leverage voice assistants to improve their productivity and collaboration. Microsoft recently integrated its virtual assistant, Cortana, into its Microsoft Teams app. This integration enables Microsoft 365 Enterprise users to complete communication, collaboration and meeting-related tasks using spoken natural language. They can connect with their colleagues by making a voice query such as “Call Mark” or “Send a message to my upcoming meeting”. Users can schedule meetings, share files, check calendars and more without any keyword stroke or mouse click.
Learn More: Cortana in Microsoft 365
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted human interactions all over the world. As businesses reopen their workplaces, social distancing will continue to be the norm. However, one certain thing is that to safeguard the employees, businesses will accelerate the adoption of digital technologies with voice bots leading the pack.
If you’d like to learn more about voice assistants, please feel free to get in touch with one of our experts for a personalized consultation. We’d also be happy to share our success stories and how we can help you implement voice bots for your business .