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6 Industries Being Impacted by Voice Search in 2020

It’s no longer necessary to spend time typing your online queries. A faster and increasingly popular option is to use voice search. Most smartphones already have apps that support voice technology, so a person could merely launch or activate one and speak out their question or prompt.

MarketsandMarkets expects the worth of the speech and voice recognition market to reach $24.9 billion by 2025. The company’s analysts studied the period from 2018-2025 and anticipated an 18.72% combined annual growth rate during it.

In the last couple of years we’ve seen voice search go from being an interesting but seemingly unnecessary feature, to a feature that many people rely on heavily,” points out Kayla Matthews of the Productivity Bytes blog.

Here are six industries within which voice recognition is shaking things up and changing how people interact with brands.

Food Service Industry

Brands in the food sector rapidly evolve to meet customer demands. Although the overall adoption rates of using voice search to determine what a restaurant offers are still relatively low, experts believe voice recognition will be the next big restaurant technology.

A 2018 Yext survey found that 80% of people used voice search to get details about particular restaurant attributes. It was most common for them to do so to learn about cuisines or menu options. But, some users uttered voice commands to get a restaurant’s hours or find out about certain features, like Wi-Fi access.

McDonald’s even hopes the public’s interest in voice search will appeal to people seeking employment. It recently launched an option whereby individuals can start their job applications through Amazon Alexa or Google Home devices.

Regarding ordering food with voice search capabilities, there is still room for improvement in that area. For example, Australians who want to order a meal from KFC can do that with Alexa, but only if purchasing something they bought recently or saved as a favorite. It’ll be interesting to see if voice search in the food industry becomes more diverse and enables searching for particular keywords on a menu.

Additional Reading: Trends In The Food Industry

Health Care Industry

The internet drastically changed how people look for and get medical information. So, it’s not surprising that AI voice recognition technology has caused yet another shift.

For example, Amazon entered a partnership with the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). That entity provides health care to more than 66 million patients. This pairing enables NHS customers to search for health information given by the state-backed body without needing to visit other websites that may have content of questionable value.

Government officials in the United Kingdom hope this new option for receiving health information may reduce the strain on doctors and pharmacists. However, other applications of voice technology in this sector center on helping a person locate the nearest medical facility.

For example, the Duke University Health System has an Alexa skill that gives details about nearby urgent care facilities. Anyone can search for the ones closest to them, plus receive information on waiting and driving times.

These voice search methods could help patients feel empowered about their health. However, the parties providing medical apps to their customers must prioritize privacy.

Additional Reading: Challenges Facing In The Healthcare Industry | Trends In SaaS Healthcare | Trends In The Connected Healthcare Market

State Lottery

State lottery programs give residents chances to try their luck while also supporting public education. Lottery players understandably want easy ways to search for lottery information specific to where they live, and voice search can help that happen.

For example, the Virginia Lottery’s Alexa skill gives users details about winning numbers or games they can play. Programs in Ohio and New York have similar voice-powered tools for people to try.

There are also broader applications of this kind of AI voice recognition where a person can search to see if they have the winning numbers in any state that has such a program.

You’ve probably heard fascinating instances where a winner takes longer than expected to come forward after the numbers get drawn. That could happen for several reasons, including if the winner doesn’t happen to hear a scheduled announcement. These emerging voice search applications mean people can get lottery information at times that suit their schedules and avoid missing the details they want or need to hear.

Additional Reading: Trends In The Casino Industry

Travel Industry

Speech-enabled searching can also make it easier for people to get to their destinations. One of the most straightforward applications of this kind of voice technology relates to how individuals can search for the nearest Chinese restaurants and get directions to them.

But there are more specific ways to apply voice search to travel. For example, Teletext Holidays, a British vacation-booking company, has an Alexa skill that asks users a series of questions. The answers they give aid the voice technology in searching for trip opportunities and suggesting the most appealing options.

However, voice technology also assists those who need details relevant to the public transit systems where they live or are visiting. A new voice search app called OneBusAway provides such information for 10 U.S. cities. Also, a recent update to the platform enables it to differentiate between various people using the same Alexa device or app, such as in a household.

Traveling is a necessity for many individuals, and it can often be fun. The voice search examples here show that brands are all about giving more convenience to their customers.

Additional Reading: Trends In The Hospitality Industry | Trends In The Airline Industry | Trends In The Cruise Industry

Retail Industry

While retailers are brainstorming how to keep shoppers coming into physical stores, some of them are simultaneously realizing that consumers may like to shop at home with the help of voice technology. Such an option could be especially appealing to individuals who are older, disabled or short on time.

Walmart has a grocery-centric Google Assistant skill that gets smarter the more you use it. The tool assumes a user’s preferences based on their previous shopping experiences.

For example, if a person says they want to buy skim milk, the app would determine if they have ever purchased that product before using their voice. If so, it’d automatically add the particular kind of skim milk to a virtual shopping cart.

Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and QVC are other brands that have Alexa skills, some of which allow consumers to search for the statuses of goods purchased from those companies. In the United Kingdom, an Interflora voice-enabled capability lets people search for flowers based on the season or their reason for buying them. The app also gives users care tips and interesting facts.

However, the availability of voice search doesn’t always mean that users stay in their homes and don’t go to physical businesses. BrightLocal carried out a 2018 study about the impact of voice technology on local enterprise. It found that 25% of voice searchers would like to reserve products by speaking.

Argos is a British retailer where buyers choose the items they want by looking online or in a catalog. Later, they go to a local Argos store to get the products. The company also has a Google Home skill where shoppers can see if Argos goods are in stock and reserve them for pickup.

Additional Reading: Trends In The Retail Industry | Challenges In The Retail Industry

Higher Education

Colleges are also tuning into the fact that many students are tech-savvy and would appreciate opportunities to find university-related information with AI voice recognition.

Arizona State University, for example, has an Alexa skill that allows searching for business hours or getting details about upcoming events, including sports games.

There’s even a skill that tells students at the University of Maryland if there are free washers and dryers at the facility closest to their dorm rooms. Or, if learners at Northwestern University want to use the campus law research center, there’s a voice search skill for that too. It gives details about hours, printing facilities and more.

St. Louis University also became the first higher education facility to put Amazon smart speakers in all of its residence halls and equip them a skill specific to that institution. Although some students who received them said the gadgets made them feel less lonely, others raised concerns about possible privacy issues.

Students can find more generalized options to help them excel in college life without feeling overwhelmed, too. They can use voice search skills to help them find information a professor will likely cover on an upcoming exam or even to look for scholarships so that the cost of getting educated is less daunting.

Additional Reading: Trends in the Higher Education Industry | Trends In the Community College Industry

Voice Technology Is Taking Off

These examples show the broad range of industries that are using voice search technology or are at least open to the idea.

Giving people instant access to the information they need or want could make them less likely to get distracted or frustrated. Then, the chances that a person will do business with a brand that offers voice search versus one that doesn’t increase.