Ok Google, What’s Next?

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Ok Google, will I need sunglasses today….
No, don’t expect sunshine in London.

The opening demo at today’s Ok Google chat showed two things, firstly artificial assistance has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years. Secondly, it has certainly picked up a dry sense of humour.

Search is everywhere, from hazily checking the weather in bed, or searching wedding venues to the sudden need to know the height of Bruce Willis at 2 am. As Behshad Behzadi, distinguished engineer at Google, put it “search is a connection between inspiration to action.” As we become more demanding of technology and are constantly on the go, the adoption and preference of voice search have been growing in popularity. Through more frequent use, the voice interface has become more intelligent and with a little getting to know one another, the assistant in your pocket has become more helpful than ever.

Behzadi tells us with pride that Okay Google now recognises 92% or words, making it more accurate than ever before. Gone are the days of shouting at voice recognition devices, ‘no I said boat, not goat!” The technology seems to have caught up with consumer demand.

After a demonstration by Behzadi showing the audience not only Google assistants accuracy but its instinct to follow conversations, he is joined on stage by panel mediator Kate Russell and a group of representatives from London’s future thinking agencies. The panel move on to discuss what brands need to do to keep up with AI and the increasing prominence of mobile as consumers main search device.

Anni Noel-Johnson, director of customer marketing and alaytics at Farfetch, kicks off by discussing how mobile use has far exceeding desktop for both search and revenue in the last couple of years. What is particularly interesting is how she touches upon mobile not only as a means of search by as inspiration. “We have this overload of access to information, we see this in the fashion industry where previously people would get their inspiration from magazines. They are now getting it from social media and that means that the level of personalisation we need to achieve at Farfetch has taken off significantly. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

With mobile search and AI growing ever more popular, it is impossible for brands to ignore these crucial platforms. “Brands need to get deeper into consumer intent and devices used. You can’t just market to the consumer, you must market to the machine.” Caroline Reynolds, VP of paid search at iProspect, builds out from this point saying that marketing to the machine can be tricky in terms of data, advising brands to marry online and offline data to see the best results.

As the name of the seminar suggests the audience are here to ask what’s next for AI, and who better to answer than Tracey Follows, CSO of the Future Laboratory, “ artificial assistance will become advice. So when you put together automation, expertise and combine this with contextual information, it becomes advice. We’re seeing that people are happy to use voice assistance in the home and these sorts of assistants will not just become part of the home, but part of the family. You will be able to outsource your questions to them.”

So how long have brands got to get on board with the future of search? Follows suggest as soon as possible, “statistics by Gartner says that by 2020 we’ll be in communication with bots and assistants more than our own spouses. If that’s true, there isn’t a lot of time and we’re already seeing brands experiment with it. Voice is an easy and well-trusted sense so I think we’ll see it move quite quickly.”

With Matt Bush, director of agencies at Google, referring to the company as “AI first,” and the search giant offering training to small businesses to ensure the UK stays ahead of technology changes, it seems that there is no question in Google’s mind what exactly is next.

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