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Google’s Assistant strategy and what it means for your brand

Google’s Assistant strategy and what it means for your brand 1800 1200 Kane Simms

Google’s recent integration of Google Assistant with Technicolor set-top-boxes further shows that Google’s strategy for Assistant is more than timers, alarms and web searches.

You might think of Google assistant as the thing that you use to search the web on your phone or the speaker you use to play music at home. But with every new partnership, Google adds another string to its assistant’s bow that sees a slightly different Google Assistant appear on different surfaces. All the while, the Google Assistant umbrella expands and it edges closer to becoming the default assistant in your life and the default access point to the internet.

For example, the partnership Google has with auto manufacturers like Ford, Volvo, Nissan and more, sees Google gain in-car control capabilities. You can turn your heating on, check your tyre pressure or wind your windows down, just by asking Google Assistant.

You can still do the standard things you’d typically do with Google Assistant on your phone or smart speaker, like play music, get directions and ask questions, but its appearance in the car gives it new capabilities, which expands its role in your life, and expands its role in the world.

The recent integration with Technicolor set-top-boxes means that you’ll now be able to control your TV, switch channels, play on-demand content and more by asking Google Assistant.

This has been possible for a while, as well as native integration with TVs, with brands like Logitech being one of the first to implement it. But as these capabilities mature, one partnership at a time, Google is drawing a vale over an increasing number of surfaces, each with their own unique flavour of Assistant.

So what’s really happening? And what’s Google’s strategy?

History repeats itself for Google

We wrote previously about Amazon’s Alexa strategy, but Google’s is slightly different, and you have you look back a few years to figure out what’s really going on.

As the adoption of the internet grew in the 90s, and the predominant access point to the internet was the web browser, Google became the default front door to the internet with its unrivalled search presence.

With #GoogleAssistant, #Google is jostling to reestablish itself as the front door to the internet by providing the default access point to anything and everything that can connect to it. Click To Tweet

Now, though, the internet is accessible from everywhere: web browsers, apps, TVs, speakers, watches, cars, household appliances and increasingly more surfaces. With Google Assistant, Google is jostling to reestablish itself as the front door to the internet by providing the default access point to anything and everything that can connect to it i.e. all connected devices and surfaces.

Think of Google Assistant as the layer that sits over the top of the internet. Over time, perhaps, your default access point to the entire thing.

What does that mean for brands?

So what does that mean for brands? Should you integrate with Google Assistant? Should you build your own assistant? Or should you sit this one out?

At this stage, sitting on the sidelines looks like it’ll become an untenable position. Brands are competing on customer experience and when the world’s largest companies adopt a voice-first, AI-first strategy (as they are), customer expectations change. Over time, those expectations will be placed on your brand. In the same way as the search box on your website is expected to work reliably. In the same way as your website should work seamlessly on mobile. So too will you be expected to offer 24/7 speedy access to products and services via voice user interfaces across surfaces and channels.

At this stage, sitting on the sidelines looks like it'll become an untenable position. #Brands are competing on #customerexperience and when the world's largest companies adopt a #voicefirst #AI first #strategy (as they are),… Click To Tweet

What about integrating with Google Assistant vs building your own assistant?

Well, that depends on the kind of brand you are, the kind of products you have and the kind of relationship you already have with your customers.

If you’re a brand that provides a high degree of utility, with a low degree of brand loyalty, low frequency of interactions on owned channels and your customers have a relatively low degree of emotional attachment with your brand, then you might as well play the game and integrate with Google Assistant.

For Technicolor, not many average people really know what the brand is. As long as your set-top-box gets you the content you’re looking for, then who cares who provides the operating system or the assistant?

Same for a brand like Whirlpool. As long as your washing machine is cleaning clothes, you’re happy. How you control it is really neither here nor there.

However, for brands like Nike, Apple, Tesla, NatWest; people have emotional connections to these brands, a high degree of brand loyalty, the brands have a high degree of traffic on owned channels, and, yes, while they do provide utility, they also have an experiential nature of the product or service and customer experience matters. So, for these brands, it might make more sense to invest in your own assistant.

It doesn’t have to have a name or be a character like Domino’s Dom, Capital One’s Eno or Vodafone’s Toby. That’s surface-level stuff. What matters is your strategic approach to the future of brand and customer engagement.

Your #voiceassistant doesn’t have to have a name or be a character like Domino’s Dom. That's surface-level stuff. What matters is your strategic approach to the future of brand and customer engagement. Click To Tweet

You may have a presence on Google Assistant for some use cases, but that would be an extension of your assistant, rather than it’s home.

In the same way as Google Assistant expands into new areas and acquires new capabilities, so too would your assistant as it expands from owned channels onto voice assistant platforms.

Considering the temptation

The temptation though, when you see the increased presence of Google Assistant across a wider range of surfaces, is to run to the shiny new thing. So you’d be forgiven for riding the wave.

What matters most, though, is that you consider your options and make the right call for the right reasons based on your brand, your customers and your desired future.

How to create Alexa skills using agile

How to create Alexa skills using agile 1800 1200 Kane Simms

What’s the best way to approach the development of a hashtag voicefirst experience for Alexa, Google Assistant and voice assistants?

The cool kids would have you use agile and the ‘proper’ project managers would be more comfortable using something called waterfall. But what if there’s another way?

Here I break down how agile development with a waterfall implementation might be the best way for you to a) learn and iterate during development and b) go live with a well rounded, higher quality experience.

How to translate your Alexa Skill or Google Assistant Action with Maaike Dufour

How to translate your Alexa Skill or Google Assistant Action with Maaike Dufour 1800 1200 Kane Simms

Translating your Alexa Skill or Google Assistant Action is about more than translating the words in your script. It’s about translating the user experience. Maaike Dufour calls this ‘transcreating’ and she joins us this week to show us how it’s done.

Why should you translate your Alexa Skill or Google Assistant Action?

The world is getting smaller. Technology has enabled us to reach and connect with people from every corner of the earth with ease.

Take this podcast for example. It’s listened to in over 40 different countries, most of which don’t speak English as a first language.

In fact, the vast majority of the world don’t speak English and certainly not as a first language.

Amazon Alexa is global

Amazon Alexa is localised for 11 countries at the time of writing. 5 of them don’t speak English as a first language (France, Germany, Austria, Japan, India).

For global brands, having your Alexa Skill or Google Assistant Action available in every country you do business is a no-brainer. But even for hobbyists and smaller scale developers, think about the population of those countries and the potential impact you could have if you Skill was to do well in those locales.

In this episode

We’re being guided through the importance of making your Alexa Skill or Google Action available in other languages and what steps you should take to make that happen.

We discuss why simply translating your Alexa Skill script won’t work and why you need to recreate the user experience in your desired language.

We cover some of the cultural differences between countries and give some examples of why that makes literal translations difficult. For example, the X-Factor in the UK is a nationally recognised TV show. Whereas, in France, it aired for one season and wasn’t well received. Therefore, referencing the X-Factor in a French Skill is pointless.

Maaike tells us about how, when transcreating your Alexa Skill, you might even need to change your entire persona due to the differences in how other cultures perceive different personas. For example, in the UK, a postman is simply someone who delivers mail. Whereas, in France, the postman is a close family friend who stops to chat and knows everybody in the street personally. In the UK, the postman is a distant stranger. In France, the postman is a close acquaintance. That makes for two entirely different personas.

We discuss examples of words and phrases that exist in one language but don’t in another and how that can both open up opportunities and sometimes present challenges.

Our guest

Maaike Dufour headshotWe’re joined by Maaike Dufour, Freelance Conversation UX Designer, co-founder of UX My Bot and supreme transcreator of voice first applications. Maaike, quite rightly, prefers to use the term ‘transcreate’ instead of ‘translate’ because simply translating the words that make up your Alexa Skill or Google Assistant Action won’t work, as you’ll find out in this episode.

Maaike has worked on voice first UX for a number of years. Having worked with the Smartly.ai team, Maaike now works with Labworks.io and is helping the team break into international markets through the transcreation of popular Alexa Skills such as Would You Rather into other languages.

Where to listen

Links

Read Maaike’s thoughts on Medium
Watch Maaike’s talk at Chatbots and Voice Assistants London on YouTube
Follow Maaike on Twitter
Check out Maaike’s website
Visit UX My Bot