BE 4.0 conference: why Siri and Alexa are not the voice of the industry?


February 9, 2022

Today, American GAFAMs (sorry GAMAMs!) and Chinese BATXs are more active than ever in their proposals for using voice and intelligent assistance to manage our daily lives. However, only very simple functions such as asking for the weather, playing music or starting a timer are used on a regular basis. André JOLY, Managing Director of SPIX industry makes this observation and explains why voice and intelligent assistance solutions dedicated to industry are necessary.

We listen to GAFAM and BATX

By dint of talking only about the GAFAMs, we would almost forget the BATX which are quickly arriving on our markets, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencen, and Xiaomi which are coming to us directly from China. For its part, Samsung’s voice assistant is making a remarkable breakthrough in Asia and the United States. By way of comparison, in 2020 Chinese voice assistants are more deployed in the world than Apple’s “Siri”, as is Samsung’s Bixby.

This finding raises a first question about the sovereignty of European industry. Indeed, no European actor appears in this list. Looking only at the tree, we risk missing the forest…

The technical development of voice assistants as we know them today has cost a small fortune to each of the companies that develop them. These investments, which can only be made by the big players mentioned above, must be profitable one day. Two solutions are available to them: make the customer pay for a product to give access to a service, or give access to a free product to monetize a service. It was the second choice that took over! The major voice assistant publishers offer us their products, so that we can consume services offered by other e-commerce or advertising players. The icing on the cake, in the general conditions of use of these “free” products, we all agree to pool our data and share our time spent listening to high value-added advertising content.

What is the price of free for industry

As we can see, the economic model of the major voice assistants is based on the valuation of the data handled, so the question must be asked of the adequacy of this model with the capacities and constraints of the industry.

Unless the world of tomorrow is really different, it is unlikely that sometimes competing manufacturers will agree to pool all their documentary, semantic and linguistic resources in order to train a voice assistant. Even in a utopian world, the sharing of such data could possibly be envisaged at a precise moment, but it is not enough. The voice assistants of our giants need to be constantly supplied with fresh and qualified data in order to continuously increase their capacities.

To meet the needs of the industry in terms of voice assistance, it is necessary on the one hand to broaden the definition of a voice assistant, then to adapt the technology and the economic model to the specific constraints of this activity.

Voice assistance for industry will take different forms depending on the intended use. Indeed, an assistant for answering customer questions (FAQ type) will not have the same attributes as a voice assistant for generating field reports for site inspectors in the nuclear industry.

What is voice and intelligent assistance for industry?

Two needs coexist for an industrial voice assistant, responding to a request from a user on the one hand, collecting and structuring information provided by a user on the other. Thus, for the industrial field, the definition of a voice assistant can be extended to “ smooth relations between an industrial employee and a sometimes complex digital system thanks to voice and intelligent assistance ”.

From a technical point of view, an industrial voice assistant must meet the specific constraints of the field: little data, a requirement for reliability, functional in noise, efficient offline, acceptable as a work tool by the employees of the industry. Still technically, an industrial voice assistant must be able to dialogue with all the content already validated and used operationally in industry. One can easily imagine that no industrialist will question what he has validated in SAP to set up a voice assistant… Therefore, any intelligent industrial voice assistant must take as input data the contents of digital tools already deployed like SAP, IBM-Maximo, Delmia-APRISO, INFOR, IFS, and so many other digital solutions.

The Spix voice assistant from SPIX industry

In this sense, the “Spix” industrial voice assistant from SPIX industry meets these industrial requirements to better control production tools or systems under maintenance. Indeed, the investment to be made in the implementation of an industrial voice assistant is profitable if the manufacturer gains points of productivity or profitability of its operations. The voice assistant at the service of employees allows the manufacturer to collect more data on the state of his production tool, or to be better informed of the state of a complex system for which his employees are responsible. SPIX industry’s “Spix” voice assistant is at the service of employees’ expertise and allows them to more easily trace information from the field to the company’s information systems.


Finally, as the industry does not wish (or cannot) share its data to access “free” services, different economic models must be found. The major players in industrial digital technology such as SAP, IBM-Maximo, Delmia-Apriso, INFOR, IFS and others have already worked on economic models adapted to the expectations of their customers. The industrial voice assistant needs to find a compatible business model of these.

Register for the conference

Register for the conference on the BE 4.0 trade show (1/12/2021 – 10:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.):