Distributors should talk up security features to secure the future of smart voice assistants

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  Posted by: electime      25th April 2019

Thomas Kruse, smart technology product manager, reichelt elektronik

In the last 18 months, voice assistants have burst onto must-have technology lists with the likes of Alexa, Siri and Google Home. Since then, Google and Amazon have been battling it out to claim the top spot, but there is a big elephant in the room that’s preventing smart voice assistants from becoming common place in homes up and down the country: security concerns.

We are hearing about hacking and data collection issues from the big tech players more than ever before so it’s no wonder consumers are wary of what personal data is being collected and used for. Sometimes though these concerns are based on rumour rather than fact. Electronics distributors can help support customers to manage these concerns by providing honest and open advice on how they can better protect themselves and their data.

What are consumers worrying about?

Consumers are less inclined to use voice assistants for fear of the misuse of data, questions about where their data is being stored, the risk of being hacked and the worry that their communication is being monitored. These security and privacy worries are the main factor behind the slow uptake in buying smart voice devices. British consumers aren’t splashing the cash as quickly as technology trends predicted. 1 in 5 consumers don’t own a smart speaker because they have significant privacy worries. Recent reichelt research found that nearly half (48 percent) of UK consumers believed voice assistants would only become popular once their safety and privacy concerns had been properly addressed.

What else is holding the tech back?

Personalisation has been a widespread trend across multiple industries and technologies. Smart speakers are no exception. Consumers want more experiences and products tailored to their needs.  When it comes to voice assistants, more personalised setting options is an area that has room for improvement. Nearly a quarter of consumers (23 percent) believe this lacking feature of the user experience is hindering market growth.

A further 32 percent would like to see extended functionality improved, so flawless compatibility with other devices and more customisable settings. This becomes more important as homes and offices become connected ecosystems with multiple devices from different providers. Simple connectivity is crucial for an easy user experience. These personalisation opportunities could include recognising common errors and responding to them, decision-making support when choosing an outfit, or help with buying a product online.

This need is interesting given the worries about data collection. For personalisation to work and to be as accurate as possible, it requires a trade of data from the user. Consumers need help to understand the return on investment of sharing information and the value of doing so. Data is the new currency online. 

Do voice assistants need to become more accurate?

Mass adoption is reliant on another factor – the accuracy of the speech recognition. As many as 73 percent of Brits say that speech recognition still needs to be improved, while 47 percent say that too many commands are still made in error. 

The future of voice assistants in homes rests on improvements both in software, but also in communication with customers on safety and security. Voice assistants on devices such as smartphones or smart home speakers are great pieces of technology that can make our lives easier, but in the wake of data breaches and hacker attacks technology companies and retailers need to communicate security messages better. There are steps users can take to improve their personal security when it comes to using technology, but brands and retailers have a responsibility to communicate these and help to educate customers on safety features if they want to convince their customers that smart speakers are a good purchase for them.