You've Heard of the Open Office Plan, Get Ready for the Voice Office Plan
If you’re the owner of one the 100 million (and counting) devices loaded with Amazon’s Alexa that have been sold to date, it has undoubtedly boosted productivity around your household. Long gone are the days of maneuvering through the kitchen with flour-dusted hands to set a kitchen timer on the microwave. Instead, a simple voice command completes the task with hands-free ease, thus saving you precious few seconds. The time savings may be small, but the ease of use and cumulative benefits make these shortcuts undeniable productivity boosters. This begs the question: how can voice technology be utilized in the environment where productivity is of key importance—the office?
At Magic + Co., we practice what we preach, and enjoy the benefits of voice technology each and every day. We find it to be a productivity booster that frees workers from screen-based distractions, and are confident that future workplaces will embrace voice-first technology to fulfil a number of functions. These include, but are certainly not limited to:
Streamlining Organization and Communications
While voice technology’s presence in the workplace is still emergent, its simplest application is for clerical and organizational tasks. Whether it’s managing calendar appointments, making calls, or writing emails, voice technology in the workplace will enable users to complete everyday tasks in record time.
As Bernard May, President of National Positions, a Los Angeles-based marketing agency, explains, “Google has already introduced the ability of voice tech to schedule appointments, impacting our daily processes. Soon we'll be able to say out loud, ‘Schedule a meeting with Tom at 2 p.m.,’ and done!” May also points out that voice technology can help circumvent productivity killers and streamline inter-office communications. “Between emails, instant messages and endless office minutiae that can take time out of our day, voice tech will soon be an invaluable tool for streamlining general workflows and reducing friction.”
Beyond the overt application of voice technology as a virtual assistant, there are many industry-specific applications that could change the way people conduct business outside of traditional office workspaces.
In a medical environment, virtual intelligence integrated with voice technology could enable a medical professional to ask for vital information without requiring the use of their hands, thus saving time that could prove invaluable -- i.e., a literal life-or-death situation.
Similarly, voice technology could prove useful in a scientific or research setting. Dr. Karin Lachmi endorses its use, saying, “Using voice-activation software, scientists can speak complex search terms into the product search engine, resulting in quicker and more efficient searching. When it comes to complex product names, speaking the search terms is more accurate than typing them.”
Big Data At The Ready
Voice technology in the workplace will enable users to sift through heaps of data and cherry-pick specific information quickly. What currently requires humans to manually construct complex queries and reports may, in the future, be gleaned from a simple voice command.
In a marketing department, a user might ask, “what percentage of customers in the last 30 days made a purchase after viewing an online advertisement?” In IT, a user could ask, “how many support tickets for hardware issues are currently open?”
Voice technology powered by AI can also enable financial data to be quickly analyzed with simple commands. As Aseem Chandra, VP of Adobe Experience Manager summarizes, “Analysts could make reams of historical figures and data easily accessible via voice commands, saving time on manual queries, research and reports. They could then more easily identify anomalies and areas of interest to analyze deeper.”
Augmenting Humanity: Intangible Benefits
Aside from its measurable data and task-based applications, voice technology enables employees to ultimately spend less time looking at a screen and more time interacting with their peers in the workplace. When tedious technological minutiae are alleviated, employees have more time to address high-level tasks. “When used effectively, technology will allow the worker to focus on strategy and creativity, the elements that make us uniquely human,” suggests Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne Advertising.
Embracing the Office of the Future
Imminent introduction of voice technology into the office is on the horizon. As the technology continues to develop, so do the potential benefits and uses in the workplace.
Magic + Co is at the forefront of this movement, already utilizing voice assistants in our workspace to conduct a variety of the aforementioned tasks. As more organizations follow suit, voice technology is poised to become the new normal in the workplace—the benefits of which we have only just begun to uncover.