I had the pleasure of speaking with Bradley Metrock, CEO of Score Publishing. Bradley is many things, and most certainly all things voice. Bradley has been in the voice space for several years and culminated the Project Voice event, the number one event for voice technology and AI in America. During the podcast, I had the opportunity to learn more about what Bradley does and his vision for the future of voice. He talks in depth about how businesses need to understand the importance of incorporating voice technology within small to medium size companies. If they don’t do it soon, they will quickly fall behind.
Bradley is also the Keynote Speaker at Nashville Voice Conference 2020, coming up on August 7 at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. The event will focus on how all businesses can become more efficient and effective through the creation of Alexa Skills and Google Actions.
Paul: How familiar do you believe businesses currently are with voice apps, Alexa Skills and Google Actions?
Bradley: I think it varies, but in general it’s pretty low. I view it as defensive in nature rather than offensive in nature. I think a business, including mom and pop gas stations, and as you get into the enterprise space, needs to be working with voice or working with groups like Data Driven Design who are working with voice on their behalf so that they are accumulating knowledge and they’re getting acclimated to the space. But the bottom line is that if you’re not delving into those waters, you’re falling behind, and you’re not understanding. You have no hope of understanding how voice search is working now and will work in the future. You have no hope of understanding Sonic branding and how you need to be thinking about that with regards to a voice experience. You have no hope of understanding it. Accessibility related issues that currently keep a lot of your customers from interacting with you. I think the time has gone where (businesses need to play offense instead of defense), let’s get out in front of this thing. Now I view it as it’s defensive and you’re behind and you need to get caught up.
Paul: Do you think businesses know that they can build custom applications for Alexa and Google assistant just like they can with websites or mobile apps and how those can actually help them be more efficient and effective?
Bradley: I think some of that knowledge is there. They want to turn to professionals, and do it right. I don’t think it’s part of the mental calculus for a lot of companies. Like do the tools exist? I think it really boils down to understanding what the use cases are and understanding what the capabilities are. I just gave a talk last week in San Francisco to a room that should have been on the cutting edge of all this, and crazy enough, it was a former Amazon employee coming up at the end of the show telling me my god, I had no idea about any of that.
Paul: You wrote a book more than just weather and music, 200 ways to use Alexa. Tell us about that. Tell us about some of those use cases that you’ve found.
Bradley: It’s profound. All the things that you can do with Alexa’s ecosystem. I always joke, you could line up a hundred Amazon employees and even they wouldn’t know 70% or 80% of some of these things that are in the book. And I’ll give you a couple of examples. It’s called “Alexa, What am I Holding?” So four Alexa devices that have a front facing camera, like the Echo Show, and The Echo Spot. They have a feature called “Alexa, what am I holding?” And if I hold up a product that has a barcode, it would scan the product and scan the barcode and it would figure out what it is and it would ask you, do you want to order it? Do you want to reorder it? And, could speak to it from a product description standpoint because you have the barcode. If you don’t have the barcode, it will scan it and attempt to tell you what it is, sort of Shazam style. And it sounds gimmicky. It sounds like something just to drive, e-commerce. But the reality is that for people who have low vision or no vision, it is transformative. It is completely transformative. And by itself is a reason why people have been buying the Echo Show. It’s something Amazon did – not something a third party developer did. Amazon themselves did it and still nobody knows about it. Another example of something that Amazon did, is called Alexa Guard and Alexa Guard is an ability that Alexa has that’s really changing the way insurance as a sector thinks about voice assistants and smart speakers. Alexa Guard listens to your home or your office, and iit will do things like listen for broken glass. It will establish baseline levels of audio for the environment it is in. And if it hears things like broken glass it will either contact you or it will contact the police or whoever, you tell it to contact. Really helpful, in all sorts of environments, especially, where senior citizens may be by themselves. In fact, some of this technology is already built in where Alexa’s got the capability of recognizing just with the refrigerator door opening or with a microwave door opening. They can tell you what that appliance is. And when the refrigerator door opens 2.1 times a day and we see the activity going on from 7:02 AM to 9:48 PM on average over the course of a week. We hear the bathroom, the toilet being flushed, two times a day. We’re hearing baseline levels of volume now, we haven’t heard anything over the last 36 hours going on 48 hours. We haven’t heard a peep. Now what? You want us to call you? You want us to call an ambulance? What is it you want us to do in that scenario?
Paul: If you had to come up with an idea of big or small to help any kind of business, including your own, with operations or marketing, creating a voice app, an Alexa Skill or a Google Action, what would it be?
Bradley: We just went through that with Project Voice. We wanted to create a voice experience that you don’t want to regurgitate the web. So with Project Voice, we thought, what is it that a voice experience for a conference ought to do? And what is it it can do, that’s above and beyond regurgitating the web? And one of the things that we came up with that we used to great effect was having speakers talk about their sessions in their own voice. And better yet having speakers talk about other people’s sessions that weren’t, there’s just another session on the docket that they were looking forward to seeing, in their own voice. There’s something powerful about that. And, something community oriented about that, communal and it worked well. I think, the more I’ve had time to reflect on that, I think there’s a lesson there that any business probably should take note of. And I’ve been wanting to write about this. But I think it’s going to be looked at as a best practice for corporate branding oriented voice experiences. To have the voice of a key executive be part of it.
Paul: The goal of the Nashville Voice Conference is to help people make things happen with their businesses with voice. And, you are the keynote speaker at Nashville Voice Conference 2020, and I’m very proud of that. Can you give us a little preview of what you’re thinking will be valuable to the attendees on August 7th, 2020 at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center?
Bradley: Sure! I’m thrilled that there is a Nashville Voice Conference, number one. I’m thrilled that it’s growing. And, number two, I’m thrilled to be keynoting. It’s going to come at an opportune time because I will have just gotten back from the Voice of Healthcare Summit, which is a major event that we do in the healthcare space. We’re expecting to see a lot of healthcare innovations related to voice this year. This is going to be a very important year. You know, these companies with the mainstream voice assistance, Amazon, Google, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, and then several other players that sit sort of just underneath that. There is so much at stake with who has the best voice assistant and who has the best voice in AI ecosystem. The innovation is fast moving because there are so many people working on it and that will be my main objective with the keynote is to present. Healthcare and banking is a big area for Nashville.
Arts, media and culture is a big area of emphasis for Nashville. Nashville is growing quite a bit. Why couldn’t they come out of Nashville? Why couldn’t somebody in Nashville do something interesting with voice? That’s what we’re going to be talking about.