People are changing the way they find information — again. The changes are happening with increasing speed, and businesses will have to change to meet them.
For a century, buyers looked for product information in printed materials like the phone book, catalogs and brochures, the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers, or through word of mouth from peers and local suppliers. If you were a company in the 1890s to the 1990s, you made sure you had current materials.
But in the decades from the 1990s to the 2010s, that method of search was replaced with search engines, which allowed you to find companies and products via computers. Suddenly, viable resources could be anywhere in the world. Companies moved their brochures online and people “surfed” (and eventually typed in search terms) to find what they wanted.
Then in 2007, this method was taken over by mobile devices. Surfing was replaced with more specific searches for precise information.
Now, we’re quickly moving on to voice search (e.g., Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant). In fact, market analysts estimate that by 2020 (which is now!) at least 50% of all internet searches will be spoken aloud.
Each advancement has allowed increased convenience and speed. But there is a more significant reason to believe voice search will be adopted more quickly. Until now, humans had to adapt to the technology. Whether knowing how to search a catalog or type in a search term, it was up to the user to learn. With voice, the technology has to learn how to adapt to the natural way humans prefer to interface: through speech.