It was a dark and silent night when I was sitting in front of my PC browsing the internet. It was a lively and conversational time earlier in the day when I drove home, talking to my car to change the channel on the radio, asking my car to turn on the headlights and calling my wife. Even later in the evening, I was still talking to my TV remote to play the show I recorded but once I went to my home office to get some work done online, it all fell silent.

It is a remarkable irony that voice is available everywhere but the PC or the WEB.

I can talk to my car, to my watch, to my phone and even to my TV remote, yet when it comes to my PC or web portals, I am back to days of “silent movies”.

I find it remarkable that both my PC and the computers that host WEB portals are literally many thousand times more powerful than my TV remote. Yet the TV remote can handle voice and the WEB cannot.

The lack of voice support is not just an inconvenience but is actually a serious concern to the platform. Many people are already planning for Virtual Reality where WEB portals are being replaced with virtual stores, at a time when the WEB is being outperformed by my alarm clock.

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I believe that WEB developers and executives responsible for their online presence need to take a real hard look at their voice strategy, and I am certain that smart speakers are not the answer.

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Trying to get around the problem of voice by implementing a smart speaker skill is the equivalent of Hollywood trying to address the need for “talking movies” by switching to a radio program. Granted, the radio was able to talk long before movies had figured it out, but it is no replacement for the visual image. The same is true for smart speakers vs. voice enabled WEB portals. A smart speaker is the equivalent of a podcast trying to substitute for a real movie.

A WEB portal has made the leap into the voice age once a user can have a real dialog with it. For example, imagine a home improvement store portal. You browse to their page, you click the mic and say, “My sink is leaking,” then the AI answers back, “Are the pipes white or black?” You quickly look under your sink and say, “I see white pipes about 1 1/2” wide.” The AI now asks, “Do you see any cracks or is the water coming from the top?” to which you answer that there seems to be a crack in the vertical pipe. Now the AI is ready with a solution for you: “No problem, you need a 1 1/2” PVC drain set, I have 3 options for you, take a look.” Now you see 3 product choices on your screen that will fix your problem.

Once our WEB portals will reach that level of voice support AND intelligent dialog, we will have truly reached a new era where we make proper use of the AI technology available today.

I hope we succeed in increasing the awareness and gaining mind share to start on the journey from the “silent movie” we have today to AI augmented “talking Web” we all should enjoy.

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