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Business set to pivot to a ‘voice first’ strategy within 5 years, study finds – but no one ready just yet

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As many as three quarters (76%) of CIOs, general C-suite and IT management enterprise employees believe that a ‘Voice First’ strategy will be in place across retail businesses within less than five years,  showing a clear shift towards recognising the value of the spoken word – with  almost all (95%) C-level executives regard voice data as “valuable” or “very valuable” to their organisation.

Despite this, fewer than half (49%) of organisation-wide conversations are being captured, suggesting limitations with current call recording solutions and set up. Furthermore, more than half (51%) of the data being captured is locked away and inaccessible for AI and analytics.

“Today, voice is a critical data set for the digital transformation of the enterprise. It holds much more value than any other means of communication because it conveys context, sentiment, intent, emotion and actions, providing real intelligence and driving valuable business outcomes,” says Richard Stevenson, CEO of Red Box, which carried out the research. “The research is quite astounding, showing how few organisation-wide voice conversations are being captured and how much of that data is inaccessible. This is a significant risk in terms of data silos and a missed opportunity that Red Box is looking to help organisations overcome.”

AI and analytics – only as powerful as the data that fuels it

Recent advances in transcription, AI and ML make the value of voice data sets realisable (previously only accessible by listening), providing organisations with significant business opportunities, however only 8% of those surveyed claim their voice data is easily accessible for fuelling AI engines and analytics.

While businesses recognise the value of transcription in creating structured voice data sets to fuel AI engines, only 52% were benefiting from an automated transcription service, which is compounded by the fact that they are capturing fewer than half of the conversations taking place across the organisation in the first place.

The most common use cases for transcribing calls or wanting to accurately transcribe calls are for staff training improvements, customer service improvements and compliance, and the top three AI use cases seen to be enhanced by voice data are cited as customer experience such as sentiment analysis, security and fraud protection, and predictive analytics to influence strategy, reduce OpEx and increase efficiency. This shows the clear need for holistic and accurately transcribed data sets and for high quality audio capture in the creation of ‘AI Ready’ data sets.

Jon Arnold, Principal of analyst firm J Arnold & Associates, said of the results: “Voice data is currently locked in a complex mix of cloud and on-premise telecom systems and disconnected from the services which can maximise its value. Insight lives across an organisation and high quality and complete structured and unstructured voice data sets are crucial to enabling businesses to benefit from technological advances, such as Artificial Intelligence and sentiment analysis. These are the true value-add for today’s enterprise.”

Retail impact

Retail organisations have advanced further in their utilisation of voice data compared to other sectors but only half of those using technology to capture and analyse voice data are using that analysis for staff training, staff engagement, customer service and legislation compliance. Government and public sector organisations lag behind – Only 39% of these organisations use technology to both capture and analyse voice data.

Stevenson concludes: “The idea of a ‘Voice First’ enterprise is clearly in the line of sight of the majority of CIOs in the near future, yet few of those that already capture voice data are exploiting its full potential. There is an opportunity to derive real competitive advantage by turning voice data into knowledge to serve customers in the most personalised way and empower augmented employees.”

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