While deepfake voice-cloning scams steal the limelight, they cannot dilute the benefits offered by advances in voice AI tech in 2023

The global voice recognition market is slated to reach US$59.6bn by 2030, bringing with it immense potential for businesses and consumers alike.

However, in South-east Asia, the voice AI market continues to be at its nascent stage despite having mobile-first digital economies across the region.

With 2023 around the corner, how would the landscape in the region evolve, and are businesses equipped to ride on the trends that are expected, as follows? 

Kun Wu, Managing Director and Co-founder, AI Rudder
    1. Voice AI will become ubiquitous across all verticals
      With more customers preferring brands that are mobile-first, personalized and accessible, more firms are adopting a digital-first strategy to keep pace and stay competitive.

      To improve customer satisfaction and employee experience, many contact centres in the region are now looking at adopting voice AI solutions in the next 12 months as a business strategy, and this is expected to increase as customer journeys become more complex.

      While already widely adopted in industries such as e-commerce, fintech and healthcare, voice AI technology will skyrocket in popularity across different sectors. Businesses will continue to find new ways to leverage voice AI to include various applications across business operations, such as customer onboarding, sales, and information verification.

    2. State initiatives can drive the adoption of voice AI
      Ensuring successful adoption of new technologies is not a task undertaken by a sole party. Across the region, government bodies are paying more attention to voice AI technology and some are rolling out initiatives to encourage data sharing and make more data available through this tech.

      Take for example, the National Speech Corpus (NSC) in Singapore which helped in the continual advancements of a newly launched Singlish bot with 3,000 hours of speech data complete with humanized features to process semantics, linguistic utterances, and speech disfluencies. The Singlish bot can differentiate vocal interruptions from background noises, as well as recognize breaks, irregularities, vocalized pauses, and filler words that occur within the flow of natural speech.

    3. Bad actors will continue to plague the ecosystem, but not all is lost
      Opportunistic hackers will be eager to leverage the loopholes in voice AI technologies (with deepfake voice cloning being the most newsworthy) to attack businesses and consumers alike. Without the proper safeguards in place, cybercriminals will continue to gain unlawful access to personal data.

      Still, the sophistication of voice AI technology provides a pathway for loopholes in the system to be tightened. There are already use-cases for voice AI to be used against bad actors and to detect malicious scams.

      Collaboration efforts with governments can also facilitate the identification of advanced persistent threats and enhance cyber defenses around intelligence systems and networks.

      Further regulation around ethics in AI will also set the foundations for solution providers to protect their customers.

    4. Transparency continues to be the key to building trust around voice AI
      As the adoption of the technology becomes more widespread, businesses need to establish a foundation of trust and credibility by embracing transparency. When it comes to customer data, voice AI providers will be expected in 2023 to disclose how their data is being handled and stored, which can go a long way in reputation building. This ensures that every transaction and interaction between the provider and customer is based on a bedrock of trust.

    5. Adopting an omnichannel approach will help to personalize customer experience
      Next year businesses will be challenged to innovate ways in which voice AI can go beyond its traditional capabilities and be offered more opportunities to streamline their operations, scale up or down accordingly, and reduce costs.

      Rather than seeing voice AI as a siloed technology, closer collaboration between different business functions will be explored to ensure a seamless integration of the different workflows.

      Businesses that leverage this opportunity and adopt an omnichannel approach will be able to offer a seamless and personalized experience for their customers, which will in turn help to improve short to long term business outcomes.