At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this year, voice assistants, particularly Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, were all the rage. According to CNET, executive representatives from both companies discussed their plans to bring their respective voice assistants into all aspects of daily life: cars, bathrooms, kitchens, headphones, office spaces, and so-on.
At the show, Steve Rabuchin, Amazon’s vice president of Alexa Voice Service and Alexa Skills, said, “If voice is going to be everywhere, you want to see voice transition from the home, when you get into your car… You’d also want it at work.”
Whether we like it or not, artificial intelligence-powered voice assistant technology is infiltrating all parts of our daily life, and it’s not going anywhere. In fact, Amazon’s Echo Dot was the top-selling Amazon device of the 2017 holiday season. Additionally, thanks to audio-centric technologies, Gartner predicts that 20 percent of web browsing will be done without a screen by 2020.
With that knowledge in mind, Rabuchin is right. As we grow accustomed to having voice assistants in our personal lives, we’ll start to expect the same convenience and accessibility of information in our workplaces, too. In fact, there are already scores of use cases for voice assistant technology for business.
Here are just ten of the ways you can use some of the most popular voice assistants available today:
1. Manage your office remotely: With voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, users can control most smart devices installed in their office. Alarm systems, thermostats, security cameras, smart locks, and smart light bulbs can all be monitored remotely and controlled by voice commands. Check out this guide from VentureBeat on how to create a smart home security system with Amazon Echo, and this guide from Home Alarm Report on how you can keep your home/office safe with Google Home.
2. Create reminders or add to your to-do list: iPhone users have had the capability to create reminders in their iCloud with Siri for quite a few years now, but voice assistants with central hubs (like Alexa and Google Home) have made it possible for users to simply speak their reminders to their voice assistants the moment they think of them, without having to lift a finger.
3. Schedule meetings and events: When paired with your email account(s) and calendar(s), Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana can all schedule meetings and events by voice command, and even send notifications to the participants of your choice.
4. Perform calculations and conversions: While smartphones have made it easier than ever to make quick calculations on the spot, you still have to do some extra work to get the answer you need. Voice assistants can make accurate, complicated calculations for you, without distracting you from the task at hand.
5. Track packages: Amazon Alexa reigns queen with this task, especially for any packages bought or sold over the e-commerce platform. With voice assistant integrations with programs like UPS or Package Tracker, users can track the status of all incoming and outgoing packages, and even get a shipping quote.
6. Find service providers: Whether you need to get a leak in the roof fixed or an event catered, you can quickly find and call service providers in your area through your voice assistant.
7. Manage your travel plans: For those always on the go, voice assistants can be a lifesaver. Programs like Alexa or Google Assistant can alert you about local traffic conditions and can order you an Uber or Lyft. Voice assistants can also be used to plan and manage trips: you can make reservations, book a hotel or rental car, check the weather where you’re traveling and how to pack accordingly, check your flight status, and check in on your loyalty points.
8. Dictate and translate: Need to write an important email, but also want to get out of the office for a quick walk? Now you can do both without the worry of walking into a pole. When you use your voice assistant’s app on your phone, you can dictate your thoughts on the go and it will document them for you. Conversely, voice assistants can also read your emails and messages back to you. They can also translate foreign words and phrases, and provide the definitions and correct word spelling.
9. Manage your financials: Voice assistants are also helpful tools when it comes to managing your small business’s finances. For example, with Alexa, users can keep track of their expenses in a diary format, pull information on their orders, inventory, and store performance, and look up transaction codes from debit and credit accounts. Voice assistants also let users check their individual stock prices or current NASDAQ index points.
10. Order supplies: Ran out of printer paper? Need to restock the snacks in the office kitchen? Voice assistants can help you with that. Again, this is Amazon Alexa’s sweet spot, because you can instantly purchase whatever item you need just by dictating it to your Echo or Echo dot. But for those just looking for the best prices available, Google Home offers alternative online store options.
These 10 tasks only begin to scratch the surface of what voice assistants can do for small business productivity. Between the vast array of voice assistant capabilities and the growing popularity and user adoption of the services, it’s not hard to imagine a near future where all business places fully optimized with and for voice assistant technology.