Aberdeen Group Reports on the State of Voice Picking: Handling Hardware Costs

Posted February 21, 2012 by Steve Gerrard

In the last post, we introduced the Aberdeen Research Group’s report on voice picking. The results were positive for voice – almost universally, users prefer it to their previous technologies – but some of Aberdeen’s findings may have been a surprise.

Despite the high levels of satisfaction, a majority of voice users are going to use their next hardware refresh as an opportunity to reevaluate some aspects of their voice solution. A staggering 76% will consider a different hardware manufacturer when selecting new mobile devices.  Of that 76%, respondents described their reasoning in three different ways:

  • 36% want a “multi-modal” device that has a screen, scanner, and/or keyboard in addition to being voice-capable
  • 35% said their present device requires the use of expensive, proprietary accessories - so they want to get a more standard device
  • 34% believe that the pricing of their voice units is just too high, and want to look at other options

As you can see, the reasons run the gamut between relief from backbreaking cost to need for new functionality. Any way you look at it, it is an ominous sign for solutions that have been inflexible to change.  Voice users are still satisfied with the product, but it’s clear that they want freedom of choice when it comes to hardware.  Too many of them feel like “hardware hostages” that are subject to high costs without the option to switch devices.  What’s causing this problem?

Older voice designs involve custom coding the solution with a closed software architecture.  This construct is necessarily inflexible, as the software cannot easily switch from one system to another.  The cost of switching device vendors is prohibitively high, and companies become locked in to one brand – regardless of how their needs change.

Voice users are starting to take notice.  90% of the companies surveyed will also look to upgrade their software when they have their next mobile device refresh.  This is a good sign for the evolution of voice picking.  A renewed emphasis on adaptable software products will help keep long term costs down and extend the life of a voice implementation.

The Aberdeen Group report is full of statistics that point towards a new era of voice picking.  We can’t predict the future of the industry.  But if voice users have any say in it, it’s a safe bet that more adaptive voice systems will be at the forefront of the new wave. 


Steve Gerrard is the Vice President of Strategic Operations and Marketing at Voxware.


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