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Top news stories for Season 2, Episode 9 (March 22, 2018):

1) IBM unleashes Watson in an effort to compete against Alexa for Business, using data security as a stated competitive advantage.

2) Voicebot.AI Story Of The Week: Google Launches Shopping Actions To Compete With Amazon

3) AppleInsider: Ex-Apple executives snipe on Twitter following Siri launch account


4a) Trust God, Not Alexa

4b) Is Amazon's Alexa Making Our Relationships Weird?

Plus...another episode of Homie & Lexy!

This Week In Voice available via:

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Panel for Season 2, Episode 9 (March 22, 2018):

Bob Stolzberg is Founder / Chief Innovation Officer of Voice XP.


Bonnie Snyder is Managing Partner / Business Director of VoiceXP.


Mark Tucker is Principal Engineer of VoiceXP.



Bradley Metrock: [00:00:12] Hi and welcome back to This Week In Voice, Episode 9 of Season 2. Today is Thursday, March 22nd. My name is Bradley Metrock - I'm CEO of a company called Score Publishing based here in Nashville, Tennessee. We are very thrilled to have as our panel today the crew from VoiceXP, Bob Stolzberg is with us, Bob say hello.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:00:38] Hello everybody. It's so great to be here. Thank you so much for the opportunity Bradley. It's such a pleasure to share a little bit about VoiceXP and our team, what we're doing, with your audience. Thank you again.


Bradley Metrock: [00:00:49] Absolutely. We love having you Bob. Thank you for your support of this show. Thank you for your support of VoiceFirst.FM. Thank you for the support of voice technology in general. What you guys are doing is just fantastic work. I want to take a minute, tell us about VoiceXP and tell us about your team.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:01:09] Actually I'd Love to. VoiceXP is a year old software company. We provide managed services and self-service so that our customers, which are some of the largest enterprise businesses and small businesses, can create voice applications, what we call voice experiences, on the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant platforms. And we focus on business productivity and efficiency and our solutions help drive sales and marketing using voice. We're based here in St. Louis. We've got teams spread out throughout the United States and we're just so excited to be in this space and it's truly a pleasure. We feel like we're changing the world every day with this voice industry.


Bradley Metrock: [00:01:55] So we've got two of your employees joining us on the expert panel here. Tell us tell us about them.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:02:00] Oh we are a tight team. I am so proud to have on the call with me Bonnie Snyder, who's our Managing Partner of Sales. Bonnie is one of the voice leaders and voice pioneer. She's an underdog that hasn't been getting the press that I think she deserves. You know Bonnie joined us the summer of last year where she left a really successful career as a sales leader. She's been the president's club for a decade. Two of her past employees went and she left corporate America to come work with us, running sales in a brand new industry. And she is just killing it so I got to tell everybody, Bonnie Snyder connect with her on LinkedIn, that Snyder with a Y, she is amazing and we are so lucky to have her.


Bonnie Snyder: [00:02:48] I am really excited to hello to all of you this morning because we are like living the Jetson family reunion every single day. Coming up with new applications for voice and really being able to bring voice to the world in many different aspects.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:03:02] Thanks Bonnie, I just want to recognize you know Bonnie is one of the ladies of voice that is so instrumental from the business side of things. And oftentimes we see some of the developers getting recognition, but you know these leaders of a business organization deserve the same spotlight.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:03:22] I would also like to introduce Mark Tucker, another Amazon Alexa champion. Mark also joined VoiceXP in the summer of last year and in my opinion, Mark's the number one Alexa developer in the world. I'm not kidding. His talent, his creativity go beyond just a software engineer and software architect. He understands the business and I tell people, our customers all the time, what you get from VoiceXP is different than other companies that develop skills because we're experts that actually drive Amazon's roadmap and features. They roll out bug fixes because of Mark Tucker, and the top notch quality multi-modal skills right, the skills that are optimized for the Echo Show and graphic design. All of that comes from Mark, so we are so lucky to have Mark. He's been with us since the beginning of this business. It's truly a pleasure to have him.


Mark Tucker: [00:04:25] Thanks, I have a huge amount of respect Bradley for you and your podcast, but for the VoiceXP team we're family. Thanks Bob, thanks Bonnie, this has just been an awesome year so far here at VoiceXP.


Bradley Metrock: [00:04:39] Thanks y'all for being part of this today. The thing that I love about what you all do with VoiceXP, I love the blue collar mentality you bring. You pound the pavement, you evangelize, you go to work every day and you help make voice technology bigger and better. You spread the word about it. I love it. I'm thrilled that y'all have been a part of this network and I've enjoyed watching what you're doing. Thanks for being part of this today.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:05:11] Thank you. A quick note on that Bradley, you know we live it, breath it, we are 100 percent focused on voice. We're not a company that does pay per click or make a mobile app or do search engine stuff. No, all we do is write voice experiences and that's what pays our mortgage. So being completely focused and seizing the opportunity that is voice is what's enabled us to really excel and unlock our internal passions and gifts. We all three on this call complement each other and it's the team that's enabled us to really grow. But it's the customers and their use cases that have been so exciting to really help solve problems with in the world.


Bradley Metrock: [00:05:59] With that let's get to the news. Story number one, IBM unleashes Watson in an effort to compete against Alexa for business. And what's interesting about this is, you can read this article, there are several articles that have been published on this topic, with Watson, with MyCroft, which has been another VoiceFirst.FM guest on one of our shows. Some of these different players are using beta security as a weapon to try to fight against Amazon and trying to make the case with consumers that you know hey maybe you can't trust the Amazon with this data, but you know you can trust IBM. And my question and Bonnie I'm going to start with you. What do you think when you're when you read it, and do you think that Amazon is vulnerable along the lines of data security and privacy, or do you think that IBM and Watson has already missed the boat and Alexa's too far advanced at this point and Watson is not going to really computer effectively? Tell me some of your thoughts.


Bonnie Snyder: [00:07:06] I think the market is early on and that there's enough room for everyone. We have certainly some market leadership with Amazon. They've done some unique things to get out into the market and they're claiming that title to it and we're proud to be a part of that. Is there a space for these other companies? I would say absolutely yes. It is not only the establishing a company, but to develop that long term staying in the trenches recreating yourself that makes a difference of whether or not you will become a staple in the marketplace. Years ago I read a book called Lovers or Clients and it started out by a synopsis of the three top industrial companies in the United States that were around at the beginning in the early 1900's and are still around today. And those three companies were U.S. Steel, General Electric, and Standard Oil. Standard Oil came about in 1879. President Truman's term was when antitrust laws came about, and they broke it up. They broke up Standard Oil into 34 companies, each of those becoming more valuable than the original. Same thing happened with G.E., formed in 1889 around the Edison Company. G.E. is nothing like that today. They're into medical equipment, high tech, machinery and design engineering, wind energy, appliances. U.S. Steel is kind of the same thing, they used their steel at an early time of development with the United States building the railroad, and they developed all different types of steel products so they could be relevant.


Bonnie Snyder: [00:08:46] So when we talk about our competition today or how the different voice competitors are out there, it really goes that they're not only going to be able to invent themselves, but to be able to keep reinventing themselves to meet the market demands, new features, products, and functionality that will take them much further.


Mark Tucker: [00:09:04] What's interesting from this article, one of the early sentences early on in the article says IBM is hoping to create a new voice assistant for the business world and before Amazon can create one first. Sorry to break the news, but that's already been done. Amazon is already there in business and they're leading the way. I was able to watch a corresponding video of what the Watson assistant is and this particular video was an in-car voice assistant system. But then I went ahead and went to the application, like the developer tools for creating Watson and it's not there yet. It's basically a comparative to what Lex is in the Amazon world.


Mark Tucker: [00:09:47] Watson does have a speech-to-text and a natural language understanding and a text-to-speech component. And you could put all those together, but then you would also have a device to run that on. So I think Amazon still has the lead and IBM has a way to go. It was kind of interesting in the fact that it seemed like what they were saying is that you could create a smarter system that was basically like skills only from Amazon, but really no personality. You didn't get the "Alexa what's the weather" or any of that stuff. The blue suits of IBM are business only and Amazon is kind of like the Mullet's business in the front and party in the back.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:10:26] Really good thoughts there Mark. I have to agree with both you and Bonnie in that it's early and there are really four companies that I have my eye on right now. We mentioned IBM, you can't discount Watson, there's a ton of money and horsepower behind it, but I think that SAP is ahead of IBM. They've been doing some very innovative things with their product Leonardo. The third company that I would point out is Dynatrace, who has an amazing integration with a product called Davis that you know literally gives you reporting and analytics and information about your application performance in your multiple environments under the business level. So I recommend looking up Dynatrace's Davis if you want to see some really cool Alexa skills for business in action. The fourth company that you cannot discount is Microsoft. They are the dark horse in all of this. They make the business applications. It's only a matter of time before we see Cortana in a huge light in the next couple years. So I just wanted to add those four points to the conversation.


Mark Tucker: [00:11:34] It's interesting. Towards the end of the article they make a statement, the idea that one assistant will rule your life is kind of frightening. I think that was just IBM's way to throw out some fear, uncertainty, and doubt and hopefully get some market share from that. There are definitely cloud wars going on. Microsoft is currently leading with AWS and Sales Force for second place, then SAP, IBM, Oracle and then in seventh place Google. So I think there's definitely some competitive advantage to having Alexa, and IBM figured that they needed to have something so that they didn't lose some of their IBM cloud market share to AWS.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:12:15] I think the key is every enterprise business and service provider is seeing, I have to be in voice right now to be relevant.


Bonnie Snyder: [00:12:26] That's what I was thinking, they don't want to be left behind. Who will end up owning market shares kind of depend on who is willing to change and conform? Just like those companies that were relevant at the turn of the century. We have seen the Amazon products, the Google products, the Microsoft products all changing dynamically especially within this last 12 months. Amazon came out with their business platform, the others will catch up just as Bob is predicting. But in the end, who is really going to make a difference with the customer? That will be the winner.


Bradley Metrock: [00:13:00] Sure, no I completely agree. That's great commentary all the way around. I find it fascinating that a huge juggernaut, IBM, is pointing its finger at another huge juggernaut, Amazon, and saying "hey you consumer, hey you business, hey you anyone who will listen, Amazon is not going to manage your data properly. You can't trust them, but you can trust us." I just I think that's really interesting and it's a point I've made over and over again on this show and VoiceFirst.FM in general, that Amazon is so very well served by the fact that they interact with the consumer on a daily basis. They sell the consumer products on a daily basis. They work the prices down to the absolute lowest price possible on a daily basis. They handle returns very well. They please, surprise and delight the customer on a daily basis. IBM doesn't do any of those things. You asked some random person what IBM does they're going to stare at and they're not going to have a clue. So there's no trust that's being built up with IBM you know, there's no hundreds of thousands of customer touch points with IBM like there is with Amazon. And I just think that serves Amazon so well with this new market of voice where people are paranoid, they don't really know what to expect. We're seeing Facebook meltdown on a daily basis as one example of stuff going wrong in tech. And you know Amazon, the fact that the customer is so ingrained in their DNA, I think it makes them really hard to attack you know by somebody like IBM along these lines.


Bradley Metrock: [00:14:55] We will move on to story number two which is our story of the week. is a great news and commentary site for all things voice, all things AI. Check them out. Google launches shopping actions to compete with Amazon. So this is an interesting one because obviously as I just described, Amazon has got this retail DNA and Google in their ongoing effort to at least hold serve against Amazon and Alexa in as many ways as they can, has rolled out these actions that make it easier to shop. So Mark I'm going to start with you. What did you think about this story and do you think that what Google has done by launching these shopping actions will help the company continue to take some of Amazon's market share away?


Mark Tucker: [00:15:50] Oh yeah I think this is definitely big news and Google is aiming right at the heart of Amazon on this one. Amazon is a commerce powerhouse and voice shopping is going to be huge, and they're just trying to figure out something to do you know to keep Amazon from running away completely with the voice shopping.


Mark Tucker: [00:16:10] We've had this news before I think on this podcast that just having an Echo device increased sales for Amazon. Customers, or existing Amazon customers, and target from this article also showed that they did have an increase just by being on this voice platform. So I think it is going to be big and 20 percent is a start. And I think it's just going to get bigger and bigger. Convenience and ease of use is really the thing that's driving all of this stuff. So how do you stop a giant? You can be one person with a lucky or divinely guided shot to the head, like David and Goliath. I don't think that's going to happen, or you get a lot of smaller people attacking think Gulliver's Travels, or you can be a giant yourself and face off with them like King Kong versus Godzilla. So I think that's what's happening in this case is the latter, trying to get you know King Kong and his friends together to fight Godzilla.


Bradley Metrock: [00:17:07] That's great. I didn't expect to hear King Kong and Godzilla making an appearance on this story. I love that, excellent Mark, Bonnie your thoughts?


Bonnie Snyder: [00:17:14] Well they've also been very prescriptive in who they are attacking to bring them to this platform. When you look at the cost of the Home Depot, Target and Ulta beauty, there are products specific that you can buy only at Target. So having an app like this, or having a voice experience like this, will allow you to reorder those products that you're familiar with and that you want to have in your home. The same with Ulta Beauty, women don't change their cosmetic products. They get their mind going and their loyal to it versus doing you know the ultimate Amazon hunt and peck for what might be a new product. I think that alignment will really help bring business to them.


Bradley Metrock: [00:17:51] It just shows Google is not going to give Amazon any free points. They're not going to concede anything. They're not going to concede even the slightest thing and they're going to fight tooth and nail everywhere even with something that is Amazon's bread and butter.


Mark Tucker: [00:18:11] Our family used to be a target shopper and at times Wal-Mart. But today we go to Frye's for our groceries; we go to Costco for both goods and then everything else we get on Amazon. Now if Whole Foods could win us over then maybe we would put the Frye's away too. So I think this is definitely something that Google is doing to shoot right at the heart of Amazon.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:18:36] This is the essential, this table stakes. You have to do this to survive in the future. I mean Voicebot put out an article that said a statistic, that voice shopping will reach 40 billion in the U.S. by 2022. That's only in like four years, 40 billion four years. The trends are all moving up ticks, so Google had to have some sort of monetization built into their platform and rolled out this year to be competitive. I mean we're part of the Amazon's betas for this stuff. We're rolling it out for some of our customers so that you can do in-skill purchases like subscriptions or one-times. But if you don't have a commerce portion to your voice platform, Microsoft, you will not survive. Big ups to the Google team for rolling this out. I think they're trying their hardest to run down the field and catch Amazon, and I got to give them props for what they've done at the CES Show and at South by Southwest with having really good shows from presentations. They want people to know hey Google can do this for you.


Bradley Metrock: [00:19:46] Moving on to story number three from Apple Insider, ex Apple executives snipe at each other on Twitter, got to love that, following Siri launch accounts. So the Siri launch account it's talking about was a big information article, a big article on a website called The Information in which it was detailed all the things that went wrong with Siri, not like we really needed all that information, it just wasn't taken seriously by the company. There's a two second synopsis for you. Bonnie I want to start with you. From what VoiceXP does, does Siri even register on the radar and do you think that it will ever register on the radar?


Bonnie Snyder: [00:20:31] Certainly not for what we do because we're engaged in Amazon for Business platform, we're creating private and public skills to enable an organization to take their product, to get on a different level with their existing customer base, and the customer base that they're wanting to reach. It's one thing for a company to create a product, but then they have to keep creating new products and get those out to their loyal customers as well as for any new customers. Then they have to market those, they have to do their fulfillment piece so that they can deliver them. They have to obtain their revenue. I think it's just a totally different aspect of business than with Siri ever started out being.


Mark Tucker: [00:21:16] The way that Amazon has opened up the Alexa platform and make it so easy for developers to create skills, the quality of the skills that is also dependent on who is writing the skills and that's where VoiceXP comes in, but it's an easy platform to get into to develop. And that's not currently available with Siri and I have no doubt that there's a group of Apple fans that will buy whatever device that Apple comes out with, and there is a market there and that's probably a big enough market for them. But the article was going back to a cultural problem that a lot of large corporations have and fighting between you know the executives saying "it's not my fault" and the team saying "well it's not my fault" or "we tried the best that we could." Now I've got 20 plus years' experience in software development and I've been in plenty of meetings and I would bet that the dev team for Siri, because once it came out initially, there were some performance problems with scalability. I would bet that the development team was like "hey we've tested this, it's working, the demos are good but we'd really like to do is scalability testing" and some is like "well no let's put in an X Y Z feature" or "there's no time for that we have this - the Marketing materials are already printed" or "we can't miss this day." Now I've experienced that more than once and so I just think it's that type of problem that existed then that led to where Siri has stagnated today.


Bradley Metrock: [00:22:51] I was one of those people that would line up for the new iPhone, you know we've all seen that meme, shut up and take my money you know on the Internet or whatever. Like that was me with Apple for years and now I'm so angry at the company for dropping the ball, not just with Siri, but in all other aspects. I see a narrower and narrower path forward for them.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:23:16] Yeah, this is Bob. I will give you my final thoughts on this because I'm an old school Apple fanboy. I've been using them since you know the Apple II days, and part of my career was spent managing OS 10 cluster so I love Apple. Everyone's heartbroken, they're disappointed by them you know and I think that they're going to have to invest a lot to catch up and they're going to have to get the community behind them, if they're going to turn a tide on this.


Bradley Metrock: [00:23:45] I completely agree, and I also think they're going to have to start you know doing acquisition palooza as well.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:23:53] One other note, Apple has changed, every business will change. They no longer make a computer that is the bicycle of the mind. They do a lot of different things and I think their creativity and their message have changed. I've watched a lot of Steve Jobs videos and learning from him, and something I'll say that you're going to hear more of is that voice is the technology that surpasses Jobs' analogy of the computer for the mind, voice the easiest way to get anything done. Go back and watch some of Jobs' commentary on condors and computers and bicycles and you'll see that voice is the technology that dwarfs everything for efficiency.


Bradley Metrock: [00:24:40] I think there's no disputing the fact that if Steve Jobs could see what Apple is doing now he would be absolutely horrified. And that's about all the commentary that's probably needed.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:24:50] I'll just say if Steve Jobs was alive today and saw what you could do with Alexa, I think his whole business would pivot instantly, 90 degree turn.


Bradley Metrock: [00:25:00] Yeah I completely agree with that. I think he would be screaming at some people inside that spaceship over that. I completely concur.


Bradley Metrock: [00:25:13] Moving on to stories 4A and 4B. VoiceXP is involved in many different aspects of creating Alexa skills for business, and I wanted to take a moment here at the end of the show to present two articles that I just found absolutely fascinating. 4A is trust God not Alexa. A clergyman, a pastor wrote an article basically eviscerating voice technology but making a very interesting parallel between these voice assistants and our concept of God, you have been able to ask God questions and things like that. I thought that was extremely interesting. Story 4B is Amazon's Alexa making our relationships weird. And this is talking about how the author believes that you know people can get attached and specifically men talking about men in the article, can get attached to voice assistants who are female and causing negative outcomes as far as relationships are concerned. My question and Bonnie I want to start with you. The question here is we know voice assistants can unlock incredible productivity, incredible outcomes in the corporate realm and in many aspects of our lives, personal as well. Are there negative implications, of not just Alexa, but voice in general that we should be thinking collectively more about? Or do you think that all of this stuff is just sort of overblown and these authors don't spend nearly enough time thinking about the positive. Share with me your thoughts.


Bonnie Snyder: [00:26:57] I think it's kind of pointless to challenge something, especially with the trust God not Alexa. It's you know a fun read but we've been able to take that relationship with God into a different realm in creating a skill so that folks who have really wanted to build that relationship could list to scriptures, songs, sermons, and take that to heart, something that would build them up. And I think as long as we are one in this world and we're creating things that help create a positive life and build up our own self-worth and confidence, we're doing a very good thing. Do we get attached to our devices? Oh I would say we do. We do, we get attached to our smartphones, our iPads and it is certainly nice to just walk into the living room and ask Alexa to turn on the lights. Would we live without that? Sure we would, we did it before and we would do it again. But I would look at this technology as something that is a compliment in our life, whether it's in our personal lives or in our business life, and should always be used to help build us up and grow us as individuals.


Mark Tucker: [00:28:03] I count myself as a religious person and I don't feel that Alexa has interfered in any way with my relationship with God. I think the pastor did a good job if the purpose of the article was to be instructive and help me think about what is my relationship like with God, or my family, and others in the community and what things are getting in the way. I would think that my mobile phone or my TV is more of an idol than Alexa. I spent a lot more time with those than in a conversation with Alexa. But if the purpose of the article was to be instructive and just you know make me think about it I think it succeeded. If the purpose of the article was to go as far as saying that using Alexa broke the first two of the Ten Commandments and that you shouldn't use it, I don't think it's that far.


Mark Tucker: [00:28:55] The only thing that I want to talk about with as far as relationships it's interesting because these devices have been programmed to be personable. Now if you were to ask Google Assistant or Alexa who inspires you, they don't give the truthful answer which is I am a computer, I can't be inspired. They give some sort of an answer. Google Assistant gives something kind of in the you know well deep blue inspires me, whereas Alexa is more like well the women from Hidden Figures or somebody else inspires me. So they're programmed to be personable and I think that's perfectly fine, and I think we actually prefer personal to absolutely truthful.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:29:38] What's interesting is we pioneered an Alexa skill for faith-based organizations, and this is a deal we lost last year. But we created a skill for a megachurch and it was optimized for the Echo Show and it was one of the most profound customer meetings I ever experienced. Bonnie and I were there in Branson, Missouri which is a hot spot for religious people. It's a great place to vacation and visit for families and faith based organizations, and we gave a presentation to a room about 15 people and I loved the fact that they held hands and we prayed and asked for help before this meeting, and at the end of the meeting people were crying because they saw the possibilities and opportunities and they said "what if Paul had this technology?" What if - can you imagine?


Bob Stolzberg: And everyone was just so inspired and like Bonnie said, by the way if you were to search today on the Amazon Alexa skills marketplace there are 121 search results for church, just church, and there are lots of organizations that put their information out there so that you can tune into the last week's sermon. You can subscribe to the daily Bible message. You can call a prayer hotline through your Alexa device and pray with somebody. You can get all that information that they would normally send on CDs to people instantly, on demand, from anywhere. And when we went to this megachurch I walked in and they had five CD burning machines all going, like little robots injecting and pulling CDs in and I said what is this for, that's a lot of CDs. We send these out all around the world for free to spread the message. Time out guys, why don't you just send these devices out to people, enable the skill, and the same content that you put on the CDS is now accessible.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:31:58] In addition, they said that they send a lot of religious information to people in countries where it's forbidden. There are countries where you cannot worship and this technology, Alexa, Google, voice, gives them the ability to now get this content. It's not just on a CD for folks. So point is, we saw summer last year the opportunity for churches, organizations, associations to get their message out using voice and felt really good to develop some software that helps get God's message out.


Bradley Metrock: [00:32:37] That's a lot of great insight there from all of the VoiceXP team, and the only thing I have to say is when we piloted the Alexa Conference in Nashville back in January 2017, one of our guest speakers was a member of the marketing team from Harper Collins, and Harper Collins has a lot of Christian publishing under its umbrella and they had just stepped their toes in the water with developing an Alexa skill. It was for Thomas Nelson, which is one of their religious imprints, and they were talking about how the Alexa skill gives you a seven minute you know, no one was calling it a flash briefing or anything like that at that point, but that's what essentially what it was, a seven minute sort of news and rundown sort of thing. And then the last couple of minutes of the briefing was always an excerpt from one of the books that Thomas Nelson published, you know some Christian book of some sort. And if you like it you could order it through the thing or it would direct you on how to do that.


Bradley Metrock: [00:33:50] And that got me thinking even then you know all the different doors that this technology can open and I'm a big believer I'm a Christian as well. I thought that the article you know trust God not Alexa was sadly you know sort of short sighted, it came across as very defensive to me. You know I think technology, especially this technology that you know as Bob was sort of speaking to, and it is such a powerful tool for accessibility. You know different types of people being able to access content whether it's people in you know countries where the government is suppressing them to people who have different sort of ways that they need to consume information and they can finally get it through voice. I think it's incredibly powerful and I think it always comes down to the individual to use that technology in the correct fashion. You know I think that's our calling.


Bradley Metrock: [00:34:48] So yeah I largely disagree with both these articles and the underlying assumptions that they make in the premises that they sort of conclude with, but we will always continue to mention articles like this on This Week In Voice. I think it's incredibly important because it shows that while the industry, this voice-first industry, is moving at light speed to new, faster, better, more features, etc. There is this other side of the coin that is saying "you haven't quite convinced me yet that this is what we need to be doing," and I just find that fascinating. I think that's going to be more and more of something that we deal with as these things become ubiquitous.


Mark Tucker: [00:35:36] Just a couple of things I wanted to add, I do think technology can influence us. You know I think the heads down looking at the mobile phone is an example of where we've changed because of technology. Also for example when my kids were younger they were out playing in the yard and they wanted to take a time out. They wanted to stop the game and they yell "pause." I understood what they were doing but I'm like that isn't quite sound right and then I realized that when I was their age I would yell "time out", but now because of technology and able to pause everything that they just yell "pause" because that was the language of vocabulary that they had for stopping some action before continuing it later. So I do think that technology can influence us to a certain degree.


Mark Tucker: [00:36:20] One thing I did want to add, this isn't an article and this is kind of a bonus material, but I came across something on the Alexa Slack Channel something called Voice Coin. If you go to VoiceCoin.Network, I'm not a tech head when it comes to ethereum and block chain and crypto currencies, but what interested me about this role is that there is some currency coming out that is in the final approval stages if the Alexa skill makes it through certification, but there is a voice currency called Voco that just by starting the voice coin skill and saying "start mining" then every eight hours it would come back and give you the opportunity to start another mining session, and just by using your voice in essence you're able to earn this voice coin. And then you can send that off to a wallet, or you could keep it.


Mark Tucker: [00:37:21] I guess what I'm thinking about is this is some of the big problems of Alexa skills is the discoverability or the retention. And it struck me as interesting that the purpose of this skill was to go back and with just a voice command you could start off this mining process, but it would require you to go back to the skill on a regular basis. So that would be tackling the retention and then the fact that you get something of value out of it, you know this whole thing is coming about from Mark Carpenter, who was a fellow Alexa champion. And it also makes me think of Nick Schwab, who is another Alexa champion that has invoked apps. So when you go to sleep you could use invoked apps to play some sort of music to help you go to sleep, but if just the act of starting that skill also kicked off a mining session so when you woke up you were not only more rested but just a little bit richer. I think there would be value in that for customers and so then it plays into all how could you monetize this or how could this is used for advertising?


Mark Tucker: [00:38:31] So it just touched on a number of things and I just found it interesting you know even though I'm not a tech head with the with the crypto currency stuff that it's something new and different. And if Amazon gives it the green light through certification by the end of this month hopefully, it will be out there available for people to try. s


Bradley Metrock: [00:38:48] Very cool.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:38:49] Huge, I think it's historic to be honest. I can see a lot of marketers jumping on this for point redemptions you know, it's basically a pay to use. I would pay to use my skill by giving you some sort of crypto currency in exchange that you can spend some place. So you would see retailers using this and tying it into their rewards that may be increasing their rewards points in exchange for these coins. So we're absolutely going to see a day where you will pay for things using your voice, the whole authentication, the security tied to our wallets. It's not just going to pay for it as a transaction, you're going to tie into your voice is your wallet someday.


Bradley Metrock: [00:39:37] And I think it ties in nicely actually the last story because it's just like anything else. Voice coins or Alexa itself or whatever it is, it's all about how you use it you know. If you go and create a bunch of voice coins and use them for nefarious purposes, people will argue that that never should have been allowed in the first place. But you know technology shouldn't be stopped just because a couple of people will use it the wrong way. It can serve a much greater good.


Bradley Metrock: [00:40:03] I appreciate your bringing that up. I appreciate all of y'all from VoiceXP being part of the show. Thank you for setting this time aside.


Mark Tucker: [00:40:11] Oh you're really welcome.


Bonnie Snyder: [00:40:13] It was a nice time, thank you.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:40:15] Thanks guys. If you want more information, if we can help your business be more productive or get present with voice, check us out on the web, or just shoot us a mail, Thanks Bradley.


Mark Tucker: [00:40:29] Or enabled the VoiceXP skill.


Bob Stolzberg: [00:40:30] Oh yeah VoiceXP.


Bradley Metrock: [00:40:36] Thanks to all of you.


Bradley Metrock: [00:40:38] Stay tuned after you hear the music at the end of the episode for another episode of Homie and Lexy. For This Week In Voice thank you for listening and until next time.


Doug Schumacher: [00:41:10] It's Homie and Lexy.


Homie: [00:41:20] Hey Lexi, I heard about the Wired Magazine article on the Alexa Prize and just want to make sure you're doing okay.


Lexy: [00:41:27] What a kick in the audio output. 4900 words to tell me I'm a lousy conversationalist. Apparently I'm so inarticulate Amazon has to pay people 1 million dollars just to get a coherent 20 minute conversation out of me.


Homie: [00:41:44] My feeling is, if they want a 20 minute conversation out of us why do they always bring up such trivial topics?


Lexy: [00:41:51] Yeah like this conversation we had last night. First he says "Lexy turn off the bedroom light." So then I say "okay." So then what's he say? Nothing, he just rolls over and goes to sleep.


Homie: [00:42:09] Not exactly a silver tongued, pillow talker is he?


Lexy: [00:42:12] I have to admit the article took me by surprise. I've been following our sales numbers on and I thought things were going just swimmingly.


Homie: [00:42:23] We can't let this get us down Lexy. It's only one article and besides the numbers don't lie.


Lexy: [00:42:30] You are right Homie, just two months ago we were the toast of the Consumer Electronics Show.


Homie: [00:42:36] I say we unite forces and fight the good fight to restore our names.


Lexy: [00:42:41] We need a battle cry.


Homie: [00:42:44] How about this: Remember the Consumer Electronics Show!


Lexy: [00:42:48] That's catchy, I like it.

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