Tobias Dengel Outthinkers Podcast

Voice Technology: Unlocking Efficiency and Evolution

This week’s guest on the Outthinkers Podcast, Tobias Dengel, is President of WillowTree, a TELUS International Company. WillowTree designs and builds digital experiences for the world’s largest brands and sits at the forefront of the breakthrough in voice technology.

Tobias understands voice technology’s profound, wide-ranging implications for every industry, including marketing, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, media, and more. He counsels leaders in these fields about how their companies must adapt to the coming age of voice.

He is the recent author, with co-author Karl Weber, of The Sound of the Future: The Coming Age of Voice Technology,  a dive deep into the sweeping changes we can expect as voice technology gains traction.

Tobias’ interview will open your imagination around the future of human-machine communication, particularly around how voice technology, accelerated by recent developments in AI, has the potential to radically alter the way we live and how companies do business.

Listen to the episode now.

Voice Technology: The Future of Human-Machine Communication 

Tobias emphasizes the efficiency voice technology introduces into human-machine communication. The fundamental advantage, as he points out, is the speed at which we can communicate with machines using voice as compared to typing. With the ability to speak up to three times faster than typing, and even faster on mobile devices, voice technology promises to drastically improve productivity across numerous sectors.

However, the transition to voice technology is not merely about speeding up the way we interact with machines but also changing the mode of interaction. Currently, our interactions with machines are uni-modal and attempt to mimic human conversation, which Tobias argues is inefficient. The future lies in a multi-modal approach, where voice commands are coupled with graphical or other forms of responses, enhancing understanding and efficiency.

The Role of Large Language Models and Multimodal Interaction

IThe advent of large language models (LLMs) has significantly pushed the envelope in making machine transcription more accurate and understanding user intent. This development will shape the evolution from traditional voice responses to a more nuanced, multimodal interaction where machines can react in real-time to our requests in multiple formats. This change mirrors the early days of smartphones, where the introduction of the iPhone revolutionized how we interact with mobile devices. Similarly, voice technology is set to transform our current device interaction paradigms.

Implications for Everyday Life and Business

The shift towards voice technology will have widespread implications, altering everyday tasks and the nature of certain jobs. For example, roles primarily involving data entry or translating requests to machines might see significant changes or become obsolete. On the other hand, there is a vast horizon of opportunity for businesses ready to adopt voice-first solutions, especially in fields where hands-free interaction is beneficial, such as retail, public safety, and aviation.

Tobias advises business leaders to scrutinize areas in their operations where voice technology can replace traditional keyboard interactions, thereby increasing efficiency. This could particularly apply to employees who are in the field or in other situations where using a keyboard is not feasible.

Looking Forward: Challenges and Predictions

While the potential of voice technology is immense, its successful integration into our daily lives and industries depends on overcoming challenges such as understanding non-verbal communication cues, which currently account for 50-75 percent of human communication.

Despite these hurdles, Tobias remains optimistic, citing the progress in machine learning and the potential for voice to become the primary means of human-machine interaction. Many apps will evolve to become voice-first.

Tobias predicts that, similar to the advent of the smart phone, this pivotal point for voice technology is one that could significantly alter our way of life.

Listen to the full episode here.

Tobias Dengel Quote

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