cloud computing

Notes from Voice Summit 2019

I spent some of this past week at the massive Voice Summit 2019.  Thousands attended to learn and share their experience in the Voice space.  Attendees and speakers were all from a broad set of backgrounds. A lot of the Summit’s speakers and workshops were given by the companies that provide smart speakers and digital Assistants, like Amazon with Alexa and Google.  In addition to helping to market the event, Amazon Alexa staffed a lot of Workshops and Breakout sessions, most of which were aimed at helping developers hone their skills in the voice space. Never used AWS services to boost your skills feature set? They held sessions to walk attendees through exactly what to do.  Samsung's Bixby and Microsoft’s Cortana also made appearances at the summit, by also hosting workshops and announcing new feature releases on the big stage.

It appears that the major Voice Platforms are going about their devices differently. However, one big takeaway from the event is the area that all the platforms seem to agree on. These devices require serious computing services.  Between storage, compute power, scalability, etc. the main platforms agree, you need a strong back-end to make a powerful voice application. Amazon, through their AWS services, Google through its “Cloud Computing” and Microsoft through Azure, all offer options to support an amazing voice experience.  It became a major theme of the Summit. Voice is able to work because of a culmination of technology. Great 4G or WiFi allows the voice devices to communicate with servers in the cloud to quickly give the user helpful information. It is the expertise of all these things that make the most compelling voice applications. This was one side of the conference, the other was all about making great dialog.

The consensus seemed to be, in order to make a compelling voice application, you need great computing, and you need great dialog. Voice applications are easy enough to make and implement; they are hard to make helpful and sticky.  On Alexa alone, a massive amount (over 90%) of skills are used once by a user, and they never return. The emphasis was put on the computing, you need useful information and tasks for a compelling skill, but more than that, you need to get the user in a compelling way.  The voice interaction needs to be quick and to the point.

Alexa and other devices allow for you to change the native assistant’s voice and replace it with actual human voice overs. The number of voice actors at the Summit was quite astonishing.  I counted at least 5 sessions that were focused on voice acting for the voice assistant age. Speakers talked about how the use of human voice differentiated their voice application and made it feel more natural.  

Many other speakers talked about how they use context to help speed up their voice experiences.  By remembering users, skills can quickly repeat actions without re-entering data. Every time I check the weather, I shouldn’t need to tell Alexa where I am.  Voice applications, that take advantage of this have succeeded. Voice applications even allow for third party integration. Want to know the balance of your bank account? Use your username and password once, then get the answer quickly every time you ask.  Similar to other Applications driven by User Experience, voice applications that are able to reduce customer friction have found the most success to date. Just because its called Conversational UI doesn’t mean you have to architect a half hour gab session just to get some basic information from your device.  Interactions designed for efficiency are getting the most utilization.

Find out more about how Voice could help you by reaching out to our team Alexa Subject Matter Experts, VUI designers and Developers:

Cloud Safety, First!

You probably don’t realize it, but you use the cloud almost daily. From sending emails to streaming movies, you are using the cloud when you use those services.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is defined as: “the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user.”

There are a few types of cloud computer: public, private, and hybrid.

  • A public cloud means they are owned and operated by a third-party cloud service provider.

  • A private cloud is a physical cloud that can be located on the company’s on-site datacenter in which resources are used solely by a single business or organization.

  • Now, a hybrid cloud combines both a private and public cloud. This means that data and applications can be shared between them.

Additionally, they can also be broken down into 3 types of services:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): The most commonly used. Examples include Dropbox or Google Drive.

  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Developers use this service more often. This is to host an application.

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This is where users subscribe and access software over the internet through a provider’s APIs. Examples include Amazon Web Service (AWS) and vCloud.

The cloud is something that people used to fear, but now it is used daily. It was even estimated that about 50% of business around the world will adopt at least one cloud service by the end of last year. We upload business files, emails, photos, and other important information in the cloud.

Why is the Cloud Beneficial?

How does cloud computing help your business? Here are a few ways the cloud can build business value:

  • Cost reduction

  • Risk reduction

  • Flexibility

  • Efficiency

  • Strategic value

  • Improved mobility

The impact the cloud has on business is enormous and significant. A study from the market research company, Vanson Bourne, wrote a report - The Business Impact of the Cloud. They summarized drivers of cloud adoption and even recommendations for improvement.

In their research they found:

  • Companies that have adopted the cloud have found that more than 26% of improvement in their time to market.

  • The cloud has helped about a 16% reduction in operational costs.

  • Over 19% of companies have seen an increase in company growth due to their adoption of the cloud.

  • The cloud reduces about 16% of IT maintenance costs.


Source: Vanson Bourne

However, we all must be careful and protect ourselves and our business when we use the cloud. That is where cyber security becomes vital.

Cyber Security

Now, let’s talk about security. According to the Cloud Security Alliance, about 73% of companies confirm that the security of data is the top concern in cloud projects. Cyber security is one of the most important trends in technology now. Huge cyber attacks, like the ones that have hit Target and Yahoo, have caused much panic and have exposed millions of people.

How Can We Protect Ourselves in the Cloud?

Here are a few tips about keeping yourself safe in the cloud.

  • Read through the contracts and license and service agreements for your cloud service. Make sure you know the legal and regulatory requirements for protecting data.

  • Protect your machine by installing anti-virus/malware and anti-spyware software. Your data should always be encrypted with sensitive information.

  • Data encryption is important.

  • Firewalls

  • Having strong passwords and two-factor authentication

Keeping You Safe

At Bluefin, we know the importance of keeping you safe on the cloud. Is your company looking to launch to the cloud? We’re here to help and keep you safe! Give us a call now and let’s get you set up on the cloud.