Half of us now using smart speakers, Accenture study finds

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Half of online consumers globally now use digital voice assistants, or smart speakers, with emerging markets leading the way in adoption. 

This comes after Amazon announced that it had been selling out of its popular digital voice assistant over the festive period and that 100m devices have now been sold around the world

Standalone voice assistants – or smart speakers – are one of the fastest-adopted technologies in US history and have a 98 percent satisfaction rate among US consumers, according to a new research report from Accenture (NYSE: ACN) based on a global survey of 22,500 consumers across 21 countries.

“Adoption and satisfaction with smart speaker technology is booming,” said Robin Murdoch, co-author of the report and managing director of Accenture’s global Software and Platforms industry practice. “Convenience and accessible price points are helping drive increased use but maintaining this loyalty will require companies to stay relevant with consumer needs while creating and constantly renewing trust.”

The report, “Reshape to Relevance,” notes that smart speakers are disrupting the consumer technology and service ecosystems. Ninety-three percent of consumers globally expect their home device purchases, such as smart TVs or computers, to be based on ease of integration with their standalone smart speaker.

The relevance of smart speakers is reflected in consumers’ expectations to use these devices for more-advanced tasks beyond routine activities like voice calling, playing music or eBooks, and accessing news. They see value in voice assistants managing home security (61 percent of respondents), providing connected home automation (59 percent), paying bills and providing payment alerts (55 percent) — even making restaurant reservations (53 percent) and providing access to virtual medical advice (52 percent).

Key UK-specific statistics:

  • 48% of respondents currently use a voice assistant, up from 35% the previous year
  • 96% of respondents are satisfied with their device
  • 65% of respondents have shifted behaviour from smartphone to voice assistant for things like making voice calls, playing music and accessing news
  • 45% of respondents feel that the ability to integrate with their current brand of smart speaker influences the purchase decision of models/brands of other devices – such as smartphones, wearables, and connected TVs etc. – ‘to a great extent’. An additional 45% said it influences their purchase decision ‘to some extent’
  • Consumers’ main concerns with using voice assistants are: failing to understand requests (49%), security (48%), and privacy i.e. someone always listening (45%)
  • 61% of respondents are interested in having their smartphone embedded in a smart home bundle

However, trust is a potential impediment to greater adoption of smart speakers, with 41 percent of consumers citing privacy concerns and 40 percent citing security concerns with the technology. Forty-six percent of consumers believe they don’t have control of their data with voice assistants and 58 percent are more likely to re-evaluate their trust in this service by continually checking how their information is being used.

Greg Roberts, another co-author of the report and managing director of Accenture’s North America High Tech industry practice, said:

“Consumers expect their smart speakers to handle complex workloads and integrate with other products. Brands that offer advanced artificial intelligence capabilities will be well positioned for success. But to attract more customers, they will have to be transparent in how they store, use and share data. Establishing an agreed trust standard with consumers is essential.”

Chris Price
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