Voice Connects Consumers to Networks

Boca Raton, Fla. — In the opening keynote of Nuance’s Conversations convention, James Canton, noted futurist and head of The Institute for Global Futures, emphasized that the convergence of various networks and technologies will power and ultimately determine the future of business enterprise. And tools, such as voice, that enable platform interactivity will be crucial.

Though much of the keynote was theoretical, focusing primarily on projects and ideas that have yet to see live deployments, Canton’s thoughts on future planning were practical even if the networks he envisioned remain some years away.

"Voice will be a critical part of that environment," he said. "When I’m in a social computing environment, can I use voice to cross a platform, say ‘play now?’ Probably in the next year, you’ll hear how we much use Web 2.0 and convergent voice, video, and data tools to work the enterprise."  

The keyword, however, is "convergent." Canton emphasized that the success of a network will not depend on a single facet like voice, but in how well the platform incorporates a variety of other factors— such as IT computing, neuroscience, and nanotechnology—into a customer-centered conglomerate. A greater mash-up between computing and customer care will be crucial for the success of such platforms.
Thus, in the interests of business agility, Canton sees the release of new networking technologies in quick succession, each development trumping its predecessor. "Those that get convergence will get out sooner," he said. "You want to be out in front of the customer and bring them along, not play catch-up."

At the same time, Canton conceded that though a fully networked world might not be hard to imagine, "it’s just hard to execute."

Still, he isn’t simply grasping at air, as networks like YouTube, Facebook, and Myspace have become big drivers of social connectivity. He also cited the growth of GPS and other locational technologies as examples. "New kinds of advanced chips [relating to nanotechnology] that together will provide locational awareness, and provide new platforms that today don’t exist—everything will have locational awareness due to GPS," he said.  It’s a comment that taps into the mentality driving unified communications.

That Canton predicted "click-stream customers"—customers working remotely, unfettered by geography or borders and working for mobile companies—should be the target demographic comes as no surprise. Consumer devices, many of them mobile, "are driving what we do in enterprise," he said.
Canton also anticipated the death of the notion of non-connectivity and separate silos of information. The next generation of the internet, for instance, will require more adaptive and intuitive computing to understand the customer, as opposed to the customer trying to parse the network. "A big part of this," Canton said, "is the notion of presence, the explosion of rich media and social networks."  

And thus, platforms that enable the communication of more sensory-based information, especially voice, will see increased value.      

"There will be lots of versions of value that are very culturally specific," he concluded. "Global economies will be more intuitive, but only when these barriers between devices will break down. The network will know us and hopefully the software inside—the brains—will help it."

Ultimately, getting it right will not require following the rule book, but in writing new chapters.

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