Man at his desk using a phone
The potential exists for every employee to harness AI voice technology. PHOTO: Kamyar Rad

Voice-based artificial intelligence (AI) has gone from obscurity to near ubiquity.

My first experience using the technology was in the late 1990s on a PC that boasted a fraction of the computing power available on an Apple Watch today.

For nearly two decades, the promise of voice interfaces seemed like something out of a Star Trek fantasy. But technology is finally catching up to the fantasy. Today, voice-based interactions are becoming one of the more promising ways in which we interact with technology.

The Promise of Voice-Based AI

Intelligent voice-based assistants from Amazon, Google and nearly every tech heavyweight are becoming commonplace, making daily tasks quicker, more efficient and even entertaining. But should we really care? Will the impact be that great?

Arguably, yes.

The most logical workplace tasks for voice-based AI services will first be those managed by personal assistants for scheduling meetings, recording notes and booking travel. While personal concierge services exist today, most require human trainers.

If you could complete all of these laborious tasks by simply speaking into a wireless earpiece or the smart device sitting on your desk, both you and your human personal assistant save more time for more important things.

AI Boosts Productivity

As these interactions become more sophisticated and accurate, the potential exists for every employee to harness AI voice technology as their own personal assistant — making entire organizations exponentially more productive.

The benefits don’t stop there. The data density a computer can receive from us through voice increases many times over compared to typing.

AI can be layered on top of big data and integrated with enterprise systems (and company intranets) to create highly intelligent and anticipatory business assistants across nearly every industry. Workers could soon skip the extensive data entry process required to create a job requisition or handle expense reports.

Working 9 to 5 (for Real)

Voice-based AI technology has the power to evolve productivity and improve how employees work across an entire organization. Examples include:

  • Finance: 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.
  • Human resources: Managers could gain access to massive databases of HR data via voice to easily sift through performance metrics and compensation for their teams. Recruiters could quickly identify appropriate job candidates from a large pool of applicants based on select criteria.
  • Marketing: Analysts could use natural speech questions to access marketing data such as revenue by marketing channel, or even complex queries such as “display the amount of revenue from gold membership customers who subscribed to our newsletter and have purchased in the last 30 days.”

These are only a few of the potential use cases that abound, as voice-based AI evolves into the de facto operating system for the workplace.

The Time Is Right

Although chatbots and voice recognition technology has existed for decades, layering it with AI in the workplace makes it a game changer. Today, only a small percent of voice technology is work-related.

Once voice AI takes off in the workplace, we could see the end of carpal tunnel syndrome. People won’t need to hunch over their computers all day, every day. Expense reports will be a thing of the past. Data entry disappears. Information is real-time and recorded. The possibilities and the IFTTT recipes are endless.