It's “only a matter of time before enterprise IT professionals will see voice-activated applications become a part of their everyday workplace environment," wrote Chris Nerney in a blog on DXC Technology. With the smart speaker market forecast to be worth $17 billion by 2022, Nerney’s vision is edging closer and closer to reality.
A number of brands have already deployed either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to help manage and supplement their digital workplaces. But out of the two, which do brands prefer?
What Is Amazon Alexa?
Amazon’s Alexa is a virtual assistant that was first utilized in Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot speakers. Alexa is capable of delivering a number of functions including voice interactions, creating to-do lists, setting alarms as well as music playback and providing the latest updates in the weather, news, traffic and sports.
Alexa has quickly grown in popularity, with over 50,000 Alexa Skills worldwide as of September 2018 — a steep rise from the 10,000 Alexa Skills milestone that was achieved in February 2017. Furthermore, it’s relatively easy to build your own Alexa skill.
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What Is Google Assistant?
Originally launched as an extension of Google Now, Assistant is Google’s own voice assistant application. When launched with Google Now, it was designed to be personal and retrieve relevant information based on your search activities and other personal information that you’ve entered on to Google.
Since moving on from Google Now, a lot of the personalized elements have been retained and has been fused together with voice control. Similar to Alexa, Google Assistant can perform a multitude of tasks including controlling smart devices, sending messages and making appointments. It can also do real-time spoken translations and access information on your calendar.
Google Assistant is a standard feature of Google Home and can be readily accessed on Android devices. It can be downloaded onto iOS too.
Which Is Best for the Digital Workplace?
As brands continue to experiment with new ways to harmonize their digital workplaces, smart speakers present as a high-tech, low-cost shortcut to greater efficiency. After all, both smart speakers are more than capable of tasks such as scheduling meetings, setting reminders, recording and transcribing audio, as well as reading emails aloud.
Chris Ward, the owner of SoundUpNow, explained his firm utilized both smart speaker technologies and found that each has their distinct advantages. “We use both smart speakers in our workplace and office setting. We have found advantages with the Google Assistant for fast search queries and Google-powered responses. Alexa is easier for commerce [and] purchasing for our business and some smart automation functions,” Ward said.
According to Voicebot.ai, as of October 2018, Alexa has been dominating the market, with over 20,000 smart home devices that support Alexa compared to over 10,000 devices that support Google Assistant. Judging by those figures, one would assume Alexa is the outright winner in terms of usage in the digital workplace. But that’s not what our experts say.
“I side with Google Assistant, hands down,” said Alan Majer, CEO at Good Robot Monitoring. “[Google Assistant is] simply smarter. Alexa might be really good for specific tasks, but Google's Assistant is a technical leader. And not only do you get access to a nice set of home speaker options, but it's extremely easy to access via mobile too.”
Majer’s firm develops chatbots for their clients. He said Google Assistant provides a “proof point” for demonstrating how much is possible with voice AI. “I have a good sense of how some of my clients are using [Google Assistant],” shared Majer. He said his clients are using Google Assistant for “administrative tasks, hands-free operation or data entry, or as selling and support tools.”
Stephen Hart, CEO and founder of Cardswitcher, also sided with Google Assistant. “In our office, we've chosen Google Assistant and, I have to say, I get along with it much better than I do with my wife's Amazon Echo,” Hart said. He also shared that the microphone, he felt, on the Google Home was a lot crisper than it was on the Echo.
Ward added that his brand developed their initial products on Alexa first due to its "better integration capabilities" — which makes it a better candidate for brands looking to bolster digital workplaces with dispersed teams. Ward insisted that Google will “catch up,” but that one area where Alexa dominates is its ability to “customize and add more value of the type of information we can provide for our audience.”
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Google Edges Out Alexa?
Henry Amm, managing Director at adenin TECHNOLOGIES, explained that his company develops digital assistants for the workplace using both Alexa and Google Assistant. Here’s what he had to say about which voice assistant is in the lead. “We believe right now that Google Assistant is in front of Alexa in terms of technical capabilities, despite Alexa’s perceived dominance in the consumer electronics market.”
Based on our findings, while Alexa may have obtained the bigger market share, the capabilities provided by Google Assistant are more suited to a working environment. Google Assistant readily integrates with a host of Google tools including Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Drive and Google Maps. “Google Assistant works very well with my Android phone and with Google Drive and Gmail. Everyone on [my] team communicates through Gmail, making Google Home a slam dunk as it works seamlessly with the rest of our operations. Google Home keeps our schedules tight and everyone on the same page,” said Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics.
All in all, it seems that Amazon’s Alexa has the edge when it comes to functionality and flexibility, while Google’s Assistant is best for intelligence and querying. So, the best solution for your digital workplace can be ascertained when you answer this question; are you looking to add functionality and provide shortcuts for your workplace, or streamline research processes?