Certainly, the virtual or voice personal assistant market is hot. Amazon is the industry leader. Google Assistant is there. Apple Siri is strong. From Microsoft Cortana to Samsung Bixby, we are having new tech species offering assistants to humans. This is just a beginning. They will continue to improve and mature.
A voice assistant is a digital assistant that uses voice recognition, natural language processing and speech synthesis to provide aid to users through phones and voice recognition applications. Voice assistants are used in help and service phone lines, smartphones and other places to assist users with tasks.
The shift to voice offers immense opportunities for Nigeria. There are many exciting things about voice as I have noted many times in the past.
There are many opportunities in the voice assistance space in Africa. In short, if you make it, you will get customers even in the enterprise market. The following are simple examples:
- Banks working on agency banking will adopt the technology to reach customers who are largely not literate enough
- Insurance firms will also use it to build new solutions, based on voice
- Many government services will move from text to voice, solving the illiteracy barrier
- Africa’s leading ecommerce companies like Jumia and Konga will come on board. Of course, you must make sure such a technology works with our accents
There is a shift in computing at the consumer level, where people can talk to their phones and the phones get things done. The opportunity will be huge. Now is the time to think of Africa’s voice operating system.
Besides these opportunities, the largest of all will be real-time translation of Nigerian three main languages. If you build something that can translate Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba in real-time, you will have a moment. From banks to insurance firms and indeed to governments and military, the market is there. No one says it will be easy to do such, but it is a vision someone has to develop and execute. I also think government may support such an endeavor.
Voice computing will redesign the computing world and any entrepreneur that can build a piece of it will find a space in the global arena. For our Nigerian languages, the entreprenuer can add the Pidgin language flavor. That will instantly produce an afro-unicorn.