VOICE Summit Returns to Newark

An interview with Pete Erickson of Modev, who demystifies artificial intelligence and explains VOICE AI’s impact on small businesses

In case you missed it, the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) will once again host the world’s foremost leaders in artificial intelligence (AI), as VOICE Summit returns to Newark, July 22-25. Joining NJIT on the VOICE Host Committee are the City of Newark, Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Newark Community Economic Development Corporation and several leaders from the region’s technology ecosystem.

Last year’s event was a coup for Newark, with nearly 3,000 registrants attending. The inaugural VOICE Summit was the first and only event with a singular focus on voice technology. Innovators at the forefront of this emerging industry, representing companies like Amazon Alexa, Prudential, Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL), Intuit, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and Comcast, articulated the breakthrough ideas that dictate voice technology’s present and future.

Almost twice as many people are expected this year. Organized by Modev, the multi-day conference will feature 15 tracks with keynotes, panels, workshops and an EXPO of more than 150 companies from around the world.

In the following Q&A, Pete Erickson, VOICE creator and founder of Modev, talks about the Summit and why this year’s event is important for small businesses.

Q: Tell us about VOICE Summit 2019.

A: VOICE Summit sponsored by Amazon Alexa is the world’s largest voice-tech conference attracting 5,000+ developers, conversational designers, startups, brands, agencies and executives at the forefront of the voice-first era.

Keynotes, executive panels and breakout sessions will be organized across more than 15 topic areas from software development to smart homes, cities, healthcare, fintech, entertainment, accessibility and more.

The way humans interact with machines is at an inflection point and conversational AI is at the center of the transformation. Certain voice technologies are known for enabling customers to interact with the world around them in a more intuitive way using their voice.

Voice is the future and will shift consumer behavior, and companies that fail to plan for this reality, are planning to fail. Research from PwC noted that search, advertising, content and commerce are being impacted industry-wide as consumers transform the way they interact with brands as the result of voice-tech.

VOICE Summit is the epicenter for voice and AI-powered technology as a single destination for engaging developers, marketers, investors as well as potential customers from markets including retail, healthcare, transportation, marketing, higher education and government.

Q: AI is all over the news. Why is it such a big deal?

A: AI is good business. It is infused in our culture. From smart voice assistants and intelligent chatbots designed to improve customer service, to prescriptive analytics that help marketers forecast pricing strategies and consumer behavior with uncanny accuracy, AI’s ability to maximize resources, cut costs and improve operational efficiency is unquestionable.

Juniper estimates that there are more than 3.25-billion voice-enabled devices in circulation today and that voice-enabled commerce will exceed $80 billion by 2023.

And AI is good for the economy. Last year, venture capital funding of AI companies hit a record $9.3 billion, according to research from PwC and CB Insights. As we become more connected to our devices, it’s more important than ever that we connect as people. Advancements in voice AI technology helps us do that.

Q: Tell us how this year’s VOICE Summit addresses AI and small business?

A: Contrary to popular belief, small business is a critical cog in the voice technology ecosystem.

Innovation fuels small business growth, and by extension, our economy. In 2018, there were 1,393 AI startups in the U.S. This year’s VOICE Summit creates a dedicated platform for startups to showcase their innovations in front of potential investors, customers and partners.

I encourage people to check out, “How SMBs Can Harness the Power of Voice,” a presentation by Aider CEO, Brendan Roberts, that will explore specific technologies that make SMBs more successful, and how to use AI to create jobs.

Another must-attend session, “How Voice is Empowering SMBs,” is an executive panel on which Roberts will join Dustin Coates, voice search go-to-market lead, Algolia; Jenni McKienzie, principal, conversation design, Banter Technology; and Ari Rabban, CEO of Newark-based Phone.com. They will provide detailed insight on the many potential use-cases and benefits VOICE AI will provide small businesses.

Savvy marketers are starting to embrace voice technology as a new channel for brands to engage their target audience. In one survey of small business marketers, almost 50% of respondents believe that voice marketing can be a valuable asset to their company, and 26% said their marketing budget is changing to accommodate these voice channels.

Companies like Salesforce, a VOICE Summit Sponsor, implement AI that helps small business owners analyze customer feedback from those communication channels and then automatically adjust marketing and lead generation activities based on that information. And since technology like Einstein, Salesforce’s AI Platform, is already baked into their platform, you don’t have to master the technology underlying AI.

Q: How can our readers register for VOICE Summit 2019?

A: To secure one of the remaining sponsorship opportunities for VOICE Summit 2019, or for additional information, please visit www.VoiceSummit.ai.

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