From Tap to Talk

As technology continues to evolve, so does the evolution from tapping to talking on smart devices. Generally, we can speak four times faster than we can type. It’s been estimated that by 2020 about 50 percent of all searches will be completed either by speech or image search.

It’s about ease. Voice search is very natural. It’s just so much easier to talk than to type. This has been accelerated by the rapid adoption of voice enabled devices and smart phones like Alexa from Amazon, Bixby from Samsung, Siri from Apple and Google’s Assistant. These voice enabled technologies are also being incorporated into vehicles from all the automobile manufacturers.

Pretty soon many people will be talking to these increasing number of voice activated devices and ceasing to tap on their old devices. It’s been demonstrated that on average most people can type between 38 and 40 words per minute on a mobile device, but can speak at least 150 words per minute.

People type questions differently than when they say them out loud. This is because we can speak more words per minute than we can type, and also because we are less deliberate with our words when we speak, than we are when we type out a traditional query. So this is also spreading the rise of conversational search.

Another aspect is the adoption of these evolving speech activated options by older generations at home through Alexa and Google Home. These devices make it easier for people with growing, age related challenges to accomplish simple tasks like to order more dog food, check the weather, understand their calendar, and so on. It is estimated the about 75 percent of the population now use voice assistants for most utilitarian tasks. People aged 45+ now make up the biggest percentage of voice assistant users.

The ability of a business to understand these moments of context that exist for their customers, and to be able to respond to them will determine the level of their future success with voice search. A new brand of digital knowledge manager is emerging whose task is to insure that information about your business is accurate on every device, service, and platform consumers are using.

Your website, videos and other content are key to contextualizing the facts about your business for “intelligent services.” The great majority of voice interactions will continue to happen on smart phones and require that you have a mobile-friendly website.

Another intriguing development is Google Lens that will allow consumers to search in reverse by taking a picture of something that they are curious about and then learn about it for a potential purchase.

The applications are limitless and leading to a virtual entity that will handle most of our mundane tasks. Businesses will have to demonstrate how they can interface with these evolving virtual agents and explain how they can continue to provide value to their customers in the evolving era of voice search.

Robert M. Donnelly is an author, educator and brand builder for businesses and individuals. His consultancy business is called His corporate life was spent in executive positions with IBM, Pfizer and EXXON and then as the CEO for several U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinational firms. Professor Donnelly is on the faculty of Saint Peters University as well as Rushmore University, a global online university. His latest book is Personal Brand Planning for Life, available on Amazon. He also functions as an interim executive. You can contact him at or visit his website at