AmberMac Blog

2018 Tech Trends: Voice Assistants, Live Video & AI

In my first AmberMac newsletter of 2018, I shared some insights into this year’s tech trends. I know not everyone is a subscriber and I wanted to make sure everyone could have a look, so I’m putting the key parts in this post on my blog (but if you want to see great content like this first, definitely subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of this page 🙂 ).

Voice Assistants Dominate Consumer Tech

“Presented with a number of reasons why they might use voice assistants, 55% of users say ‘a major reason’ they use the assistants is that these applications allow them to interact with their devices without using their hands.” -Pew Research Center, December 2017

You can see this one in spades at CES 2018 – voice assistants are getting integrated everywhere. If you’re between the ages of 8 and 80, you likely own, or know someone who owns, a smart speaker. These shiny new products flew off shelves this holiday season. According to Billboard, “U.S. sales of smart speakers have more than tripled to nearly 25 million in 2017, about 11 million coming during the holiday quarter, according to a CTA estimate. Sales are expected to grow even more in 2018, to about 36 million, as Apple’s HomePod joins the fray.”

Last fall, I worked closely with Google during their Google Home launch to spread awareness about the benefits of their new voice assistant. After diving deep into the functionality of this device, three observations are worth examining. For starters, voice assistants are helping to centralize the smart home. For the past few years we’ve been looking for a product that can bring different smart products closer together. A voice assistant does exactly this thanks to its ability to connect devices in our home, such as wifi-enabled appliances. Smart speakers are also changing the way we search and shop. This will have a massive impact on how businesses market services. Instead of using a web browser to find a good restaurant in a new city, you may very likely ask your voice assistant for a recommendation. According to ComScore, by 2020 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

Finally, and most exciting on my short list, we’re seeing these products change the way we socialize in the home. This is no small feat. For a decade we’ve been staring into screens, often ignoring family members in the process. With a smart speaker, there is a natural tendency to enjoy its capabilities alongside other people in your house. Whether you want to play a group trivia game in the living room, listen to today’s hottest music as your alarm clock, or try out a hands-free recipe in the kitchen, voice assistants are dominating consumer tech conversations.

Read More: The State of Voice Assistants in 4 Charts – Digiday

Live Video Rules Content Marketing

“Livestream research shows that 80% of audiences would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts.” -Forbes

In the content marketing arena, 2018 will be the tipping point for live video. Although the functionality to go live on social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, has been possible for the past few years, we will see a surge in the number of brands that fully tap into this affordable content marketing tactic. While pre-recorded videos will continue to offer value, this year live video will go to the next level.

As points out, in 2018 “consumers want to purchase products and services from brands they know and love. That’s why 61% of marketers plan to use Facebook Live and Periscope, while 69% plan to learn more about live video.” Traditional broadcasters are jumping into the live video space with high-quality feeds, but they are not the producers to watch. They often lack understanding about what makes online users comment, like, and share live video content. Sure, production quality helps, but succeeding in live video generally includes the following aspects: making viewers part of the story, talking with viewers and not at viewers, and providing value that makes them want to engage.

“A report by Social Media Today found that users will watch a live video for an average of three times the length that they would a similar prerecorded video,” says Nordic.Agency’s Creative Director in The Huffington Post. “Experts theorize that the thrill of interacting in real-time with a celebrity, brand, or friend is what drives the increased engagement rates that marketers see when they host live sessions.”

Read More: How Brands Can Tackle Livestreaming Video Challenges – MarketingProfs

Artificial Intelligence Drives Business Efficiencies

“Experts compare AI to electricity because it’s a resource with the potential to transform a broad range of industries. Sure, there are particularly important technologies in each sector (like autonomous driving in transportation), but it’s the smaller implementations of machine cleverness that may add up to have the biggest impact.” -The Verge

Unlike the other trends in this report, artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t new. In fact, the term was coined in the mid-1950s at Dartmouth College, but is only now beginning to flaunt its potential thanks to the availability of more computing power. Merriam-Webster defines AI as “a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers.” A popular application of AI is machine learning, which focuses on giving machines data so that they can learn for themselves. Examples of machine learning include fraud detection software and the Netflix recommendations algorithm. Machine learning, for now, can be categorized as narrow AI. When we talk about AI in the context of, let’s say, a robot with a conscience, we are talking about strong AI.

Over the next decade, AI-driven solutions will impact business efficiencies. Take customer service as one example. Gartner predicts that by 2020, chat bots will power 85% of all customer service interactions. There are many different types of chat bots outlined in Chatbots Magazine. Beyond chat bots, AI is changing how businesses across all industries operate. In the legal profession, automation is changing case work. As MIT Technology Review explains: “JPMorgan announced earlier this year that it is using software called Contract Intelligence, or COIN, which can in seconds perform document review tasks that took legal aides 360,000 hours.” While automation will affect millions of jobs, there is new research that presents a more optimistic view of its impact. Gartner predicts while AI will eliminate 1.8M jobs worldwide in 2020, it will create 2.3M new jobs. For entrepreneurs in 2018, there are many AI tools that can help you better run your business. Two examples include Grammarly for flawless writing, and Smarter Time, an “intelligent assistant, to measure, analyze and improve your time use.”

Read More: Battle of the Brains – The Economist