Can we give enterprises a voice?

02 November 2017

Craig Walker, VP cloud services, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Craig Walker, VP cloud services, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

With personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant moving us toward a new voice-controlled relationship with technology, it is almost a given that voice-activation will eventually make it into the enterprise.

But in order to move from simple consumer-based use cases to voice-first enterprise environments, a few things need to happen.

Firstly, security will be critical for enterprise systems relying on voice commands. For voice system security to be viable in the enterprise, only authorised users with the right privileges should be able to perform specific actions or interact with specific assets. 

Recognition and contextualisation also need to be refined. In 2016, Google’s voice recognition system could recognise more than five million words with around 90 per cent accuracy – but that’s still not extensive or accurate enough for interactions with life support systems in hospitals, or power and utility networks. We still have some way to go.

It’s not just about recognising words – it’s also about what to do with them. This is where cognitive engines and AI can be leveraged to understand word context. Interactions such as ‘How do I get to Green Park?’ may sound simple enough, but they need to be put into context, including location awareness and assumptions about available transportation. 

We would then need to further leverage those cognitive engines behind the voice recognition systems to act as check and validation systems to prevent human error, and bring in broader intelligence capable of understanding the actions related to voice-controlled requests.

Innovations in the traditional voice communication world tie-in strategically with the development of voice-controlled enterprise environments.

Communication Platforms as-a-Service (CPaaS) are leveraging APIs to transform applications into voice-integrated solutions – think applications that allow you to move straight from app to voice chat. I believe these developments will play a big part in ‘voice-first’ environments by harnessing the rich API infrastructure of CPaaS to communicate with applications and devices.

Behind all this communications infrastructure, how platforms communicate with devices really needs to be standardised before we see rapid deployment of voice technology. Only in this way will enterprises be able to ensure that investments in new technologies won’t be obsolete before they realise a return.