Amazon recently announced that it has added Alexa for Business to its Amazon Web Services (AWS) offering. Most of the early use cases described for this technology referred to common office scenarios like using a personal voice assistant to book a meeting room, join a conference call or send a quick message to a large group. It is not difficult to envision more robust roles for voice control, however, as the technology becomes more present in workplaces and more common as a service component. As telecom's transformation to digital continues, here are five things voice control can offer which might play useful roles for digital service providers (DSPs) as they work to automate service delivery from end to end.
Most of the hard work in automating complex service chains, particularly in SDN/NFV-based network domains, is done through hybrid network and service management and orchestration. An integrated voice control component could allow any complex chain of VNFs that have been defined as a commercialized service to be evoked and executed automatically through simple voice commands. This, for example, moves the idea of "give me a secure line" from the operator's switchboard to an automated, voice-assisted, large-scale, future state.
Enterprise quotes and orders have traditionally been difficult to create because they involve complex combinations of products, devices, prices, discounts and rebates, any of which might be negotiated in the process of cutting a B2B deal. From Excel sheets to paper napkins, field reps and customers crunch through dozens of numbers and metrics to sort out an order. Voice control can help facilitate the Configure, Price Quote (CPQ) process and enhance customer channels by providing that information on the fly. Questions like, "what's the difference in the cost per gigabit between these two bundles?" or "can we ship these 50 spares by Thursday?" can be answered more easily in the flow of a negotiation with AI-enabled voice control as a component of an end-to-end service automation and fulfillment process.
If the user can set rules and dependencies through voice control, it provides a new level of personalization, customization and control. The discussion between the IT manager and his or her staff might conclude with a statement like, "remember not to activate those new 5G devices until the contract is authorized next week." With voice control, that statement becomes a voice command that adds a rule to the activation script that prevents any device from being activated without the dependency being met or without an authorized override. This provides easier access to business controls that can be cumbersome to configure through touch apps, which people might forget or simply not obey.
Information and identity security are increasingly critical to large corporations because they are targets for cyberattacks and have a variety of personal, transaction and legal data they must keep secure. Security techniques have evolved beyond the typical user ID and password to incorporate multifactor authentication methods, like a code sent via email or text message which can be entered into a website or phone keypad to provide an added confirmation of the user's identity and intent. Voice control provides an additional, multifactor option that can proactively contact the user to request input, accept that input via voice—often easier than typing—and may enable an additional biometric checkpoint via voice match.
As digital services mature and proliferate, customer experience is not improving. Using multiple apps at once can create difficulties with navigation, information access, logins, settings configuration and updates. Tapping through an app's screen hierarchy repeatedly is dull and unproductive. DSPs can steal a march on their app-dependent competitors by making voice control an inherent aspect of service control and interaction.
Voice control provides a completely different means of navigation. Menu and screen hierarchy aren't as important or even necessary when a user can state a voice command to access a feature that might otherwise be buried three screens deep in an app, requires a temporary settings change to access or involves entering data into more than one app. Voice control frees otherwise busy or occupied hands from fumbling with touchscreen devices and enables a personalized customer experience across devices, services and channels. Voice control can make the difference between a tap-heavy consumer app stretched to its limit as a B2B variant and a real business service designed for hands-free control from anywhere a voice control interface is available.
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