The market for voice artificial intelligence (AI) is booming. In Q1 of 2017, manufacturers (made up mainly by Amazon and Google) sold 2.9 million smart speakers. In Q1 of 2018, that number skyrocketed to 9 million.
Whether you rely on Siri, Alexa, Echo, Google Home, Bixby, or another product, modern consumers love the convenience and wow factor of smarter tech that answers to your voice, which means developers are coming out of the woodwork to make their mark on this burgeoning industry.
For buyers, this is great. More competition means more apps and software solutions to choose from at a decent price. For entrepreneurs and inventors, however, heightened interest means the market is more crowded than ever.
To break through the noise and give their voice AI products the best chance at succeeding in the new market, entrepreneurs must ensure that their products are easy to use and solve real problems.
Voice AI of tomorrow
Usage of voice-enabled AI devices is increasing at a stunning pace. The Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018 from PwC found that 42 percent of respondents have already purchased or plan to purchase a consumer AI device.
Despite their novelty, most of these devices have limited practical utility, yet consumers continue to buy voice AI devices in anticipation of future uses. Amazon set the stage for voice commerce by integrating shopping capabilities with Alexa. Now, companies are joining the voice commerce revolution in droves, eager to help customers order their products through smart speakers. The more common these speakers become, the more companies will see their benefits — and the more consumers will come to depend on their smart home systems.
Right now, not many smart speaker owners use their devices to shop. They’re more interested in information, like order statuses. That could change quickly, though. Who knows what consumers will want from their speakers in 2019? The world of voice AI today is a blank canvas, waiting for innovative entrepreneurs to make their mark.
Is your voice AI start-up ready for debut?
The voice AI market might be in its infancy, but like all the best tech trends, it will reach adulthood in record time. As competition heats up, entrepreneurs need to know whether their products are good enough to make the cut. Check out these four tips before launching your voice AI product.
1. Do your SWOT analysis
Even if you did not go to business school, the value of a good SWOT analysis is not lost on entrepreneurs. In emerging markets, it is critical to map out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in achieving market dominance.
For example, you might be strong in your existing relationships with potential vendors, but weak in investment capital. That might mean you should focus on your prospects with the biggest potential before trying to expand. And if someone else is racing to beat you to market with a similar product (threat), but you have a company interested in testing your beta (opportunity), use that information to act from a position of power.
2. Handle the legal aspects
When the U.S. Patent Office was first set up, they probably did not anticipate anything quite like voice AI. If you believe your invention is truly novel, consult with a patent attorney to learn how best to protect it.
A patent might not cover the whole invention, but it could cover a unique feature that makes it inventive. If you designed a function unlike any other, a patent could give you a leg up in a market where low barriers to entry invite plenty of copycats.
3. Understand present vs. future potential
Knowing your market will help you envision your strategy. Voice AI will redefine the way people shop, communicate, stay organized and much more. With so much potential on the table, present and future, don’t limit your vision for either period. Incremental developments now can complement the future.
Will your solution address needs five years from now? Could your work become a part of a larger platform; and if so, what do you need to do to stay ahead of that situation? The more you consider how the present will give way to the future and what could be, the better you will be able to define the space and revolutionize it.
4. Seek objective insight
If an investor asked you what you knew about your market, you probably wouldn’t say, “I just know in my gut that it’s big!” Even if you are not having trouble with your business plan or strategy, seeking objective advice or input will not only provide critical insights but potentially identify hot spots to address. Rather than shirking from the weak areas, tackle them head-on. You may be able to turn potential flaws into opportunities.
Seeking objective third-party experts for input on the technical merits of your invention or market analysis can also be simple, cost-effective and insightful compared to engaging those closest to the technology. If the reviewer tells you that your prized feature confuses audiences or another company tried and failed with the same idea last year, consider that information before moving forward. Maybe you need to rethink your market. Maybe you need to simplify the interface. If you don’t reach out past arm’s length, however, you may never know.
The voice AI market in 2019 is ripe for massive growth. If you think your solution deserves a spot in the limelight, take a step back and be prepared for an independent evaluation, think about the future of the industry, and bring in an extra set of eyes to spot the holes you might have missed.