By: Terri Hiskey, vice president, global product marketing for manufacturing, Epicor Software
Last year, the market for voice-recognition technologies was estimated to be worth a staggering $6.19bn, and this is predicted to increase to $18.30bn by 2023. Amazon’s Echo and Google Home devices are two of the most notable examples of how this technology is transforming the way we connect with machines. In fact, voice search is quickly becoming the primary search mode for consumers, with Comscore UK predicting that by the year 2020, half of all searches will be via voice.
While voice-driven technologies are currently mostly associated with home appliances, they will soon have a major impact on the industrial landscape too. Indeed, a recent study undertaken by Zebra has revealed that 51 percent of manufacturing companies are planning to expand their use of voice technology in the next five years.
“Manufacturers that are already embracing Industry 4.0 trends are best positioned to implement voice-driven technologies in the industrial environment. Where businesses like SouthCo are connecting production lines and processes with data, they are witnessing an explosion of connected devices onto their factory floors as a result. Voice-driven technology may therefore slot neatly into the digital transformation strategies of these companies,” says Hiskey.
With many industry-transforming technologies, like enterprise resource planning (ERP), being seemingly available, why should those in the sector invest specifically in voice-recognition technologies?
Connection, communication, collaboration
One of the strongest arguments in favour of voice-driven technology is to increase productivity. A poor level of productivity is an issue that continues to hamper the UK manufacturing sector, with recent figures showing a slump in UK output. In a time of global uncertainty, it is important for businesses to strive for a competitive edge and to make sure operations are as efficient and streamlined as possible. Some look towards technology to help boost performance.
A report from allBusiness has indicated that voice-driven technologies have achieved, in some instances, a rise in warehouse productivity of up to 25 percent, providing a new piece in a larger digital transformation jigsaw for manufacturers. By seamlessly connecting to other devices across the entire factory floor, the ability to vocally issue key instructions, with optimum speed, will stand to speed up internal processes, and improve overall productivity.
Manufacturers who turn to technologies that drive productivity, accuracy and overall performance can unlock potential for business growth by making their business as fit as it can be for what the future holds.
Improved accuracy and compliance
Increasing accuracy is another reason some manufactures are considering voice-driven technologies in their factories. In a sector where the slightest error can lead to allergy outbreaks or even worse, manufacturers need to be precise and their products need to be fully traceable. When coupled with the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, voice-driven technologies can lead to heightened accuracy levels within warehouses—compared to checking against paper lists and dense spreadsheets. This new way of processing data can free up precious staff time, allowing them to concentrate on higher value activities.
Honeywell’s Vocollect is a prime example of how improved strides in accuracy are being achieved through voice-recognition software. Used by nearly one million distribution centre workers, the voice-enabled software has reduced errors by 25 percent when deployed, amongst other notable benefits.
If one thing is clear, it’s that marrying voice-driven innovations with modern ERP solutions will be key to manufacturers reaping the benefits offered by this digital transformation trend. Ultimately, when connected devices can communicate with each other, and share data, users stand an increased chance to benefit from them. This is the next step in digital transformation, and will help businesses remain competitive and realise their growth ambitions.