Over the last couple of years many software manufacturers have been working on voice activated technology. We all remember 2001 a Space Odyssey with HAL the computer. I was fascinated by the ability to talk to a computer and have that artificial mind talk back to us. The next time I encountered computers was while watching Star Trek. We could talk to a machine and with only our voice command it to take us to the Bridge or make an entire meal appear out of thin air. It all seemed like a great idea at the time but no one believed that you would ever really be able to experience this wonder, at least not in our lifetimes.
However, today we are a lot closer to those fantasies. I’m dictating this article with voice activated software. In theory, I will be saving hours in the future preparing upcoming articles with this new technology. For now I am on a learning curve along with my trusty laptop.
I tried the earlier versions of voice activated software a few years ago and found it frustrating from an accuracy standpoint as well as difficult manipulating the document I was working on. This latest version is much better at navigating around the computer and it is also faster and somewhat more accurate. Saying the word ‘save’ and watching the screen as the computer hears your command and you actually begin to save the document has an odd combination of wonder and exhilaration.
However, there is a price to pay for this thrill. Learning a variety of new commands and in some cases dealing with the computer as it misinterprets what you’re saying delivers a level of frustration different from current technological anxiety. After all this is the answer we have been waiting for, the final step to make computers accessible to all including the infamous two fingered typist. On the plus side when you speak a complete sentence and watch the computer type it out in front of your eyes with no mistakes it is somewhat hard to believe.
But how does this new technology apply to marketing? Marketing is a lot of thinking and writing and rewriting. No one sits down to write a marketing plan in one pass or create the perfect copy for their website, an ad or brochure with the initial draft. So, in theory, if technology helped you to do some of the things that you normally don’t spend enough time on then perhaps you would be able to create those valuable marketing materials in a shorter period of time and get them out to your customers more efficiently.
We all have good intentions when it comes to answering e-mail, sending the follow-up thank you letter in a timely manner and creating proposals all requiring a fair bit of time parked in front of the computer.
Some people will use their unfamiliarity or their discomfort with the computer to avoid these tasks. Unfortunately the computer is not going to perform these functions completely without your assistance, but used properly can make the task that much easier.
I’ve enjoyed the benefits of voice activated technology to input large amounts of copy. For example, I wanted to use information from a previous brochure that a client has supplied. I have in the past had two choices. I could input the information myself or have my assistant do it. Now I have a third choice, I can put on my headset with the built-in microphone and dictate the copy directly into the computer saving hours of two fingered typing.
As I read through the literature and get more familiar with this software I realize that I can use it to fill out my internal forms automatically tabbing from field to field therefore processing my customers’ orders more quickly. One of the key improvements, from a sales and marketing standpoint, that has helped many of the recent fast rising companies build their businesses has been the ability to process orders in a far more efficient and timely manner than competitors. When a customer requests a part or makes a call for service they are not willing to wait two weeks for delivery nor will they wait one week or even 48 hours in most cases when someone needs something they need it right away. The more efficient you are at getting the order from initial customer request to invoice may determine how long you stay in business.
Leaving a briefing meeting with a new prospect or current customer and returning to the office with rough notes is standard procedure for many business people today. Taking those rough notes and inputting them in the computer and converting them into next steps helps to keep you organized and reduces the amount of items that might fall through the cracks.
Voice activated technology is about speed and volume. The more you can do and the faster you can do it will help to make you more competitive. As the technology improves you will be able to dictate memos, letters, invoices, orders and any other correspondence with an ease and efficiency that has never been seen before. Those who pride themselves on a lack of computer capabilities will be left behind.
I’m often asked how a small business competes against the large companies. If you can do the same quality of job, in the same time frame as your larger competitor and at roughly the same price then there is a good chance of winning that opportunity.
There have always been innovators and followers in business. By adopting new technologies at the early innovation stage you can be one of the first to reap the rewards by servicing your customers better than the competition.
Every so often I hear the phrase from a small businessperson ‘I’m so busy’ when asked how their business is doing. That ‘busy’ doesn’t always equate to profit. I’ve written in the past about turning down work or assignments if they’re not the right ones for your company. Modern technology can help you service more of the good assignments and turn busy into profit. There is nothing worse than passing up an opportunity because you don’t have the time. Customers may understand the first time you turn them down but rarely accept the second.
And that’s According 2 Eric