Why the new Alexa (really all) devices should challenge brand strategy

If you’ve been anywhere on social media or logged into an Amazon channel in the last week, you should be aware that Amazon had their fall unveiling of new devices. We at Voicify are perhaps a bit more interested in the new hardware than the average bear.

I won’t spend inches walking through each new device, specs or questions of ‘is it worth it’ or ‘what are they thinking.’ Instead I’ll focus on what it means to the market, to the consumer and the brand alike.

And to get the obligatory compliance question out of the away; does Voicify support all these new devices? Yes. Yes we do.

We supported them before they were released to the market. And so yes, all our customers just got a bunch of new devices added to their distribution ecosystem. Want to see it in a grid? OK.

Device Voicify Supported 
Echo Frames Yes 
Echo Loop Yes 
Echo Show 8 Yes 
Echo Studio Yes 
Echo Dot 4th Gen Yes 
Echo Glow Yes 
Echo Earbuds Yes 

What these new devices bring to light is the increasing importance of the Venn diagram of context (what does the situation demand), device (how will they consume it), content (what is appropriate and in which modality) & endpoint (which channel is being used).

Fortunately, with Voicify you can remove the endpoint from the diagram, which makes this considerably simpler both strategically and practically.

(The fact is Voicify takes most of these variables away practically, but this is a strategic oriented piece.)

What these new devices from Amazon should call to attention is the increased mobility of modality in how and where end users are engaging with you; or rather will expect to engage with your brand.

Side note: Alexa doesn’t own market share in smart phones (read: omnipresent object on nearly every human in the world), they depend on a native app on ‘competitors’ hardware to engage with end users on the go, so the arrival of new devices are allowing them to either more easily activate that native mobile app, or in some cases bypass it all together.

The delivery of these assistants is going far beyond the kitchen and living room experiences that so many people have talked about in the past. Instead, we are now, as a society, being trained to expect access to conversational support 24 hours a day. We’ve heard the pontifications of Alexa being embedded in lightbulbs throughout houses so one can talk to it at all times, even showerheads. We’ve seen that Amazon is investing in prefabricated houses; so they can embed Alexa in walls, built in appliances and whatnot. But the out of home experience, the out of office experience is one that is still being defined and largely up for grabs. What we’re seeing with Amazon’s announcement is an expansion of context and extended modalities.

What you really want to start thinking about as a brand is how does the availability of new context, and the modalities availability with in them, change the experience of what & where I need to be available to my audiences.

  • Where are these devices going to go where your brand could or should be paying attention and be able to converse?
  • What happens when the user doesn’t have to invoke their mobile when they are out and about? When they can tap a ring, ask their glasses? How does your brand experience change when you can communicate through clothing?
  • Or what I find most interesting, is what situations do these devices put your customers in where you can be of use to them?

This is the new extended, complex and hyper-connected conversation that brands have to begin thinking through. With any luck it is an extension of existing customer journeys; I suspect in many cases it will be the catalyst to even start them in a meaningful way.

For me, the main takeaway is that modalities need to be considered in context of where the modality is being used, because it’s going to start informing the possibility of what customers are expecting from the brand. What might the experience be with United Airlines, as I’m standing here in an airport, what might it feel like that’s different if I’m accessing Alexa from my glasses than if I am accessing it from a smart display.

This is a strategy approach we take with a lot of our customers and partners, which is, you really need to identify the primary modalities and context with the devices that are going to be most used for your customer base. The Venn of context, device and content is going to be very influential in the sort of experience and elements you’re going to need to curate and organize from other media and digital sources you already have in existence.

As always, reach out if you want to chat on this or anything else on voice!