The telecoms space is awash with innovation talk focused on payments – mobile money and NFC, mobile applications, mobile data, messaging and the internet of things taking center stage at many industry events. One channel that has not been celebrated despite giving birth to the entire industry is voice. It is unfortunate that the new and shiny things often distract from the tried and tested things from the past and this fate seems to have fallen on the voice channel. That mobile network operators are shying away from taking voice up a notch is surprising as it can be the single most valuable driver of ARPU if its utility is increased. When we “unlearn” , stop blanket importation of solutions and look at the issues at hand from a fresh and different perspective, the following opportunities among others become apparent.
In education, while the government struggles to balance politics and value to the citizen on the laptop project, there are initiatives that can go a long way in enriching the lives of the students. For example having command and mastery of a language in spoken form is derived directly from the quality of teachers. Phonetics and other parts of curricular such as history can be delivered with great success via voice.
Government grapples with the issue of ghost workers more so with the continued loss in the billions of shillings that the phenomenon brings. Voice biometrics, which if deployed well offers accent agnostic first or second degree identification that will most certainly strike a death blow to this pain point. Financial inclusion can be extended, by allowing more subscribers – without the ability to read or write well, to be on boarded onto the various innovative services out there.
We have looked at only three possible applications of innovation on the voice channel but there are many more that cut across all industries; made easier by advances in the technologies that underpin voice, making it easier to build, test and rollout services.
Talk is not cheap and it holds immense value with the makings of a cash cow which are; service stickability – with high numbers of daily average users, unrivaled utility – lending to viral service growth, scalability – covering both niche and mass market applications, straight forward business models and most importantly, zero learning curves for most use cases.