API Management 4 min

Get ready for voice

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder

VoiceWe have become accustomed to the keyboard as an interface to our computers but increasingly we see new ways of communicating or interfacing with the computer at your horizon. I do not mean the mouse which has been around for the better part of 40 years. I do not mean the touchscreen also a staple of computers and systems and lately also the preferred way of interacting with mobile devices like tablets and smart phone. No, I talk about the interface that we use primarily to talk to other people namely our own voices. 

Talking to your computer

Actually, thought my colleagues use their voice to dictate articles and blogs to the computer. The computer in conjunction with a microphone and preferably a headset in order to make recognition optimal can easily be used as a tool for transcribing spoken text to written text. This promise has loomed over the market for decades and now we finally see speech to text is a viable tool for some people. So, when computer is able to translate what you’re saying into words we can actually use those words as commands for systems. Who hasn’t used the Google assistant or Siri to retrieve some information or perhaps even navigate while on the mobile device? TomTom navigation devices often have a voice interface because it’s more natural for someone who is behind the wheel use their voice to set navigation rather than the hands while driving. Navigation is an application that is really in the sweet spot. Although some banks offer you a voice interface to their online banking system I could not imagine someone using that in any other place than in the home. Imagine you doing a monthly transfer but traveling on the train from A to B. People would not only be surprised but also annoyed.  And even in the home the market with alternatives often involving a keyboard and mouse or even a touch screen.

Talking to your HRM software

Even SAP the behemoth software company sees voice as an interface to for instance their human resource management solution success factors. A couple of weeks ago this was told to the press  by Stefan Ries, one of the board members of SAP and the person responsible for their HRM suite of products. If you don’t need very big computers to do Text-to-speech. We see a number of smart speakers like the one from Amazon, Alexa, that you can actually control with your voice. Using primarily English [other languages will follow in the near future] you can ask all kinds of things like play a little music, order something online and so on.

Talking to the services you offer

Voice is just a channel that you can use in your IT systems. It’s not surprisingly that Amazon is also made the speech to text technology that is powering Alexa available to their AWS users. So now you can build conversational interfaces that will connect either to your APIs or even to your enterprise integration systems in the background. AWS Lex is a system that will allow you to define a conversational chatbot. But there also of course other systems from other vendors. I found it very handy overview of the flow of speech to text the invocation of backend systems here. As you can see it really is just a channel that will send messages through API managers and Enterprise integrators to the backend in order to get the blind what he or she wants from the system. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s booking a ticket, navigating their way in the car or doing something that we even haven’t thought of that we could do it voice. So, I believe voice might just be the next big thing that you want to experiment with. Experiment with your APIs that you are opening up to the outside world. What? You do not do that yet? Well, in that case  I have a great suggestion for  you: download our whitepaper on API Manager selection that will help you select the API Manager solution that is right for you.

Back to voice

Why do not just say Voice is  going to be the next big thing? Because it depends! There are use places where voice is a natural interface that makes sense and, there are places where voice could be an alternative to a regular interface and there are situations where voice is just a horrible interface that you would never ever use. It’s up to you to figure out what voice can do for your use case in your organization. And if you do let me know, I would love to try it out.


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