By Kaleo Lee, The Audio Visual Company of Hawaii

As the days get closer and closer to CEDIA 2018, I keep coming across a resounding theme – VOICE.  From homes to marketing, everyone is talking about voice.  Not everyone is using it, however the numbers in terms of those talking about it are growing exponentially.  Even before I signed up for my first CEDIA Expo, Marriott had announced that they will start piloting Alexa in order to eventually put it in every room.

The commercial AV industry has gone nuts – not in a good way, but in a way where everyone is criticizing the idea. And to be honest, when change first presents itself, even I tend to look at the vulnerabilities and obstacles that come with these changes.  However, at this point we have to start looking at everything as a potential opportunity.

Take social media. When it first became a thing – a movement – everyone (except the cool kids using it) hated it. All the ‘old people’ (not really old, just old in thinking) were saying, “oh my goodness, these darned kids are always on “the Facebook,” or “millennials don’t know anything, they only know how to ‘Google’ their problems.” Now, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTUBE, these are the largest and most effective methods of marketing. I recently listened to a keynote by Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee), he likened social media to today’s video that killed the radio star. The radio star being today’s print and TV media.

The same reason social media is successful is the same reason voice is not only successful, but it’s going to be our next great movement. It’s fast, it’s convenient, and it’s already part of your ecosystem.

Millions of Americans (I believe it’s about 39 million American homes), myself included, own a smart speaker.  I wake up, and I ask my lovely personal voice assistant to play my song of choice in the morning.  When I start choosing my clothes for work and my kids’ clothes for school I ask, “what’s the weather today?” And I get a beautiful weather report of the highs, the lows, the possibility of rain, and the humidity.  Screw the weather channel – heck, I don’t even have cable.

Take it one step further than how I personally use voice – for example, many people order food to be delivered via their smart speaker. Critics call it being lazy, technology users will call it efficient. Whatever you call it, it is here and you will see it in the commercial space more and more. The same power of convenience and efficiency from these smart speakers is why podcasts are rapidly on the rise again.

The same way I use my smart speaker to listen to the songs that I’m ‘vibing’ in the morning, is the same way many professionals grow their knowledge and listen to their go-to podcasts. These professionals can now listen to their favorites while they cook, clean, shower, rest and relax – all without touching a single button.

Taking it to the business side, a personal client of mine is using voice in their office to start meetings, record meetings, order office supplies, order lunch when meetings are running long, search for information, make calls, etc.

One of the biggest “fears” running rampant is that you’re being recorded. We are actually being recorded 24/7 – is it a coincidence, smart phone or not, when you often speak of an interest it pops up in an ad to you?  My phone is always listening for “hey Siri,” but what else is she listening to? It is pretty annoying when I see my “data” come back to me. Aside from my family, AV is pretty much my life. I laugh and feel bad when my friends’ companies (AV manufacturers) advertisement comes up on my feed. If it’s an interesting ad or I click on it, I may have just cost them $14-35 per the CPC (Cost Per Click for those who don’t do social media advertising).

From a security standpoint, it’s pretty pretentious of any of us to think that our networks are more secure than the cloud platforms that are recording our data (like Apple, Google and Amazon). To put it in perspective, look in your wallet – whatever bank you got that credit card through, it’s probably been hacked. Truth be told, the greatest vulnerability every organization has is that rogue 8th layer of the OSI model — the end user.

The way I see it, you can adapt and voice your way to the next success trend, or you can fight it and get left behind.  I’m not saying to put all your chips in, what I am saying is be prepared so when your client says, “Hey Joe, I want you to integrate our conference room with voice automation,” they won’t have to look for another integrator who can.

Header photo: AWS website

Kaleo Lee headshot

Kaleo Lee is an experienced Vice President of Sales and Business Development, with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. He’s skilled in Operations Management, Collaboration Solutions, Sales, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Management. Strong sales professional with a Bachelor of Science (BS) focused in Aerospace Studies from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott. Find him on LinkedIn.