Recent news headlines point to the next version of Amazon Alexa being able to make phone calls and act as an intercom. It could be an interesting wrinkle to the already-evolving voice over IP (VoIP) and unified communications (UC) market. A quick check of the Amazon Echo store shows only a few VoIP– and UC-focused skills, but there are 10,000 Alexa skills a year and a half after launch, meaning that this state is only temporary.
Let’s start with the positives when it comes to Alexa and other voice assistants being able to make phone calls:
- What is the differentiator for the first VoIP and UC providers offering support for Alexa-based calling?
- Voice assistants could become another option for UC platforms, especially for organizations that have remote workers.
- Voice assistants in the enterprise with calling could find themselves in conference rooms, huddle rooms, and even various operations centers.
Phone calling by using a voice assistant will require both new hardware and new software. Some other positives could include nifty hardware advancements to improve call quality and perhaps integrate the voice assistant into other phone hardware. Software and application programming interface innovations could lead to integration between the voice assistants and other calling features, such as caller identification and voicemail. Just think of the implications for VoIP and UC administrators to receive security alerts and select data from their management dashboards.
Amazon has clearly taken the lead in voice assistants, leaving Google a distant second when it comes to features and functionality. However, with the inclusion of phone calling, Google could play to its experience with Google Voice, Allo, and Duo for some interesting VoIP and UC integrations, making Google Home the first voice assistant to make a phone call.
Just because you can make calls from a voice assistant doesn’t mean you should. Consider the following:
- Voice assistant calling raises potential security concerns for some people and organizations.
- Speakerphones are just that—speakerphones—with all the call quality issues that come with them.
- Privacy implications abound when you can make phone calls from your voice assistant because of where this technology stores data.
- Security and compliance inside the enterprise could be compromised.
The same issues with 911 and emergency services calling on VoIP will only persist when calling from one of these devices.
Phone calling by using Echo or a Google Home Assistant will be the domain of the early adopters in the beginning. It means that there’s going to be a phase where there’s that guy making calls using a voice assistant. Even the hint of poor call quality could have a lasting impression on all the callers involved. Speakerphones are annoying to many people; I’m just not sure that a voice assistant is going to change that beyond the charm early adopters see in having the feature available to them.
Calling with Voice Assistants
While using your voice assistant to make phone calls and as an intercom is still the thing of technology publication headlines, it’s a sign of how much voice assistants have infiltrated the home. It’s also another door for Echo, Google Home, and other voice assistants to enter the enterprise.
About the Author
Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device, and cloud computing. He has worked as a contract technical writer for clients in the cybersecurity, investment banking, Internet services, and broadband industries. Will’s other areas of technology interest include big data, collaboration, and enterprise social platforms. Will is a Studio B analyst.
Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ May 2, 2017 at 11:09AM