Watchtime episode 1: The rise of smart speakers with Charlie Cadbury | MintTwist
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Watchtime episode 1: The rise of smart speakers with Charlie Cadbury

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WATCHTIME episode 1: The rise of smart speakers with Charlie Cadbury

With the rise of technology applications such as artificial intelligence, it seems that automation is here to stay.

Gadgets such as Google Home and Amazon Echo are just the beginning of the revolution. Today, in the first episode of the Watchtime podcast, Aleksandra King will interview Charlie Cadbury, CEO of Say it Now, who is currently developing voice integration technologies for UK-based businesses. He is also the great-great-grandson of George Cadbury, one of the Cadbury brothers (yes, as in the chocolate brand). It is fairly clear that the entrepreneurial spirit runs the family!

Charlie’s career kicked off back in 1999 when he started selling websites, but it wasn’t until 2015 when he started working with voice recognition applications. Back then, Charlie was looking at innovation opportunities in the hospitality sector, trying to prove that you could buy a plane ticket just with your voice.  

Charlie emphasises that personalisation of conversations are a key factor within smart speakers and the technology behind them, as the message needs to be powerful and capable of understanding and engaging with humans. 

The future of smart speakers is, in a nutshell, everywhere. You will even be able to ask your ring for assistance while walking on the street, which makes your way back home much easier (and more fun). The idea is to delegate the maximum number of tasks onto your smart speaker, with trust, so you have more time to get on with more important things in your life. This is why Say it Now offers a branded voice experience. In one of their latest projects with a whiskey brand, you can ask the voice assistant to explain to you a whole tasting experience and all the stages you should go through. 

Chatbots and assistants are one of the main characters of the future, where Charlie pictures himself delegating more tasks to his assistants and making the most of his life.     

RELATED: How businesses are finding success with chatbots and AI

On the other hand, privacy is a concern. From a brand’s perspective, it is important to have in mind what experiences you want to show on these platforms. Having a voice strategy becomes essential for every business that is willing to thrive.

Moreover, Charlie says, building a personal brand is more than having a presence on social networking sites. As people are changing daily, it is important to build a unique experience to address these people and their changing needs.

From MintTwist’s perspective, personal branding is highly important, as it gives value to our presence and work. We believe that chatbots will be easily developed in the short term, so you can set them up to answer specific questions. On the other hand, it seems that many platforms are identifying those people’s needs, and trying to respond to them in the form of very personalised, targeted ads, without even having to rely on a previous search.

Have a listen to the full podcast below and join us every Thursday at 07:30 in the coming weeks for the next Watchtime episodes!

*This episode was multi-streamed with ReStream

Transcript

Alexandra King
Watch Time’s show sponsored by digital agency MintTwist. Welcome to watch time. The show for marketing industry looks for creative and digital ideas that will be exploring new technology development and sharing the stories behind high profile industry players. I’m Alexandra King from MintTwist, and in this episode, we’ll be looking at the rise of the smart speakers.

Alexandra King
The voice revolution has only begun today. Alexa is a humble servant, but very soon she could become a teacher, a confidante or an informant to discuss this and so much more. I’m joined by Charlie Cadbury, CEO of Say it Now. He is working to develop voice integration technology for every business in the UK. Charlie, it’s great to have you here today.

Charlie Cardbury
It’s great to be here.

Alexandra King
So, Charlie, before we get into technical details, I would like to learn more about the man behind the business. And I would like to start with something that fascinates me and that is your name. Charlie Cadbury. You must get that a lot of their bits—- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then Cadbury chocolates any connection.

Charlie Cardbury
You’re not the first person to point out that connection. You know, so much of my great grandfather was George Cadbury, who was one of the Cadbury brothers. So their dad, John Cadbury, had set up a tea and a chocolate merchant in the middle of Birmingham. And during that time, it was conceived wisdom that if you are in industrial business, you set up your factory in the middle of the town. But they broke with that and set up a factory in the fields just outside where they could have a better world for their workers to live. And they could use the new technology of the day, which was this industrial technology to produce chocolate at scale.

Alexandra King
That is utterly incredible. And it just shows you that entrepreneurship runs in the family. You’ve clearly got the buck, don’t you?

Charlie Cardbury
Very much. You know, it does.

Alexandra King
Very much so. And you’re also a family man. Could you tell us more about it? Do you have Children? Do you have a wife?

Charlie Cardbury
When our daughter was born, we were averaging one child every five months. I now have twin sons who are six years old, and our daughter Sienna is five in March. So it’s a busy and lively household. At the moment I’m losing power. So every morning when we’re talking about what we should wear for the day, I say, well, perhaps you should wear a coat, and the children run to the device in the kitchen and ask Alexa what the weather is going to be like today. She starts to be trusted her more than me, which is an interesting rise of power in the house.

Alexandra King
That is very interesting that you’ve used the word “trust” because when we get to the nitty-gritty, we talk about the importance of trust and how that relates to the technology that you’re selling, what we’ll get to that. I’ve had a look at your LinkedIn and followed your career path. So did you start in sales?

Charlie Cardbury
I started in sales, and about 1988 we had an apple tree in the garden and I would pick up these apples as a young boy, and I take them around in a wheelbarrow from house to house, trying to sell these apples. I might just sell quite a few of those years later. I was told by my mother that actually our house was on the block and everyone on the block had an apple tree in their garden. It was either my amazing sales technique or my six-year-old face that allowed me to get these apples sold. So to speak, it has been a career in sales but its been technology sales from about 1999 I started selling websites.

Alexandra King
Right and then I could see that you spent some time as a commercial director. And then you co-founded several businesses, and now you are a CEO and founder of a number of businesses: A Moment Pebble, Champion Advisory, Lighthouse London, and Said it Now. That’s quite an impressive portfolio.

Charlie Cardbury
I am Advisor to Lighthouse and co-founder of Moment Pebble and Say It Now is the job that I’ve been working in natural language processing since 2015. I started working to prove out that you could book airline tickets using just your voice. So using Alexa in 2015 with an airline in the States and then following that started to build products using this understanding of natural language processing built out Dazzle, which is the first one of those with marriage.

Alexandra King
That’s what I was about to mention Dazzle. Did you want an award for that, didn’t you?

Charlie Cardbury
Yes, we first put the proposition to marry it. So this was in September 2016 and they were looking for innovations within the hotel sector, a way to position the Marriott brands to a younger audience. And what we’d learned about these smart speakers is that they didn’t work very well in busy environments. But if it was just one human and smart speaker, that worked really well. So we’re looking for opportunities where that was the case, and hotel rooms seemed ideal.

Alexandra King
That’s wonderful. And now it’s all about Say It Now.

Charlie Cardbury
We’ve had a very good first kind of 18 months of this business, we’ve launched well.

Alexandra King
I’ve had a look at what it’s all about, and it says it’s to articulate the benefits for companies and customers of automated communications through chatbots and voice assistants. Can you explain that?

Charlie Cardbury
Yeah, certainly because this is all about personalised conversations at scale, this kind of the marketers’ nirvana, so us as human beings we get advertised to all day every day through a lot of displays. So lots of adverts, banners, and posters all around us trying...

Alexandra King
All sorts of stimulus yes!

Charlie Cadbury
Well, stimulus yes, but it’s a very much one way, and it’s quite cold because as humans we really want it to be heard. And the minute that you can engage in a two-way conversation, your brain starts to operate in a slightly different way and slightly more receptive. The minutes that we can have this two-way conversation are new, especially if the content has personalised towards you that lands far more powerful. And so we create these little robots which sit in smart speakers but also in chatbots within the place, like Messenger or even SMS or Whatsapp. They communicate automatically on behalf of the brand.

Alexandra King
Okay, so how did you get involved in this business idea? How did you come up with this? I know that you love Knight Rider?

Charlie Cardbury
Yes. It’s all about being able to articulate the vision and I found SciFi did that to me really well, it made it very obvious to me. But in the future, when we go through our lives we will have some kind of ethereal assistant which will help us on our quest through life. And for me that was, you know, well articulated with Knight Rider and looked at Michael Knight, who had a car and assistance who would help him.

Alexandra King
And a watch.

Charlie Cadbury
And a watch! Yeah, you see this is it! So you know, looking back now we can see that Michael could talk to the kit while he was in the car, said there’s an autonomous vehicle with a smart speaker inside. But also he could talk to Kit using his watch, and we now know the kit must have been cloud-based, very much like Alexa. And so this is is very clear to me. I realise I’d have to wait another 30 years for this to come to fruition. But now it’s here it makes me see that which is very much the way the world is going.

Alexandra King
Right. Let’s talk about that. Is it the way the world’s going?

Charlie Cardbury
We have seen that smart speakers have been the fastest ever selling consumer electronics device. Currently in the UK, we’ve got 22% penetration, so you know more than one in every five households has a smart speaker, but this is just the end of the beginning. So the future for Alexa is she is everywhere. The team that we deal with Amazon now called the Alexa Everywhere team, and they have been pushing forward, you know, the delivery of this assistance in lots more devices. So they’ve released these eco frames so you can talk to your glasses as you’re walking down the street, echo buds that you can talk to, and even a ring that you can press a button and say Alexa “What meetings do I have today ” and hold it to your ear and she’ll whisper that into your ear. And the whole idea, and the clue is in the name, an assistant is that you should be able to delegate tasks to this assistant.

Alexandra King
Yeah, it should assist you in your daily life.

Charlie Cardbury
Exactly. And the more that you can delegate and say, look, kid, you book me a baby sitter for Friday night, and that will give me another three minutes back in my life. And the more of these small tasks you can delegate with confidence.

Alexandra King
Yes with trust. That’s where the trust comes into it again. And how about the competition? So who do you compete with?

Charlie Cardbury
There’s Alexa, but there are about 200 voice studios in the UK. They list about 12 on the site and they actually account manage about four agencies. Of which we are one.

Alexandra King
Okay, so now that we know we’re on to something with us, you’re obviously in a really interesting, dynamic area. How does it all work? I know that you’ve got with, Say It Now you’ve got a branded voice experience. You’ve got conversational advertising and conversational commerce. Does that all tie in and work?

Charlie Cardbury
So it’s about where you start on the journey as a brand. So a lot of brands they won’t have had any kind of voice experience or conversation back and forward before, so we need to have a kind of starting point. And that’s very much with the brand voice experience that we’ve boxed up into an easy to buy a product. So the last piece of work that we put out under that was with Diageo, which was a whisky tasting experience. And we got an average dwell time of about seven minutes per conversation.

Alexandra King
I had a look at that. It’s just so interesting. So you can actually ask the voice assistant to explain the whole experience of the tasting and all the stages that you go through. I mean, that’s very informative.

Charlie Cardbury
Yes, the driver behind that was to differentiate a point of sale. So the test that we ran was whether if we put a sticker on a bottle of whisky in the supermarket and you’re standing in front of 100 whiskeys, would having the stick on a bottle change the propensity for that bottle to be sold?

Alexandra King
Okay, so let’s talk about the future. Describe your ideal future as far as these voice assistants and chatbots are concerned. Where do you see it all going?

Charlie Cardbury
So I started my 70th birthday, so that’s really with me on my 70th birthday, and we could either have a world without chatbots. And on my seventh birthday, I’ll be talking to my grandchildren and telling them about this fantastic life that I had lived, and I’m relatively good at having fun. Um, however, if these voice assistants do what I predict they’re going to do over the next few decades then I’ll be able to, not only delegate more and more of my menial tasks to these assistants but also give me leisure time. They’ll also get better at inspiring me and trying to, communicating with my friends and family to find those moments that I just don’t have time to keep my track on everyone’s diary. And suddenly there’ll be the serendipitous moments where I would be able to go for dinner here or a small holiday here and you have more of these, you know, fun and enjoyable times with your family and friends. And those would be the stories that I would be telling on my 70th birthday. So I have a lot of hope for the interest in different lives of these people.

Alexandra King
Okay, what about the gadgets and the things that you mentioned earlier? The echo buds and echo frames, all these little gimmicks? Do you think we might have one centralised communications source? Maybe some way embedded in the brain? I mean, this is very, very sci-fi, but what do you think?

Charlie Cardbury
The current approach, especially from Amazon’s perspective, is they…if you go onto Amazon.com today in 2019, there are 85,000 different products you can buy.

Alexandra King
85,000?

Charlie Cardbury
With Alexa built-in.

Alexandra King
Unbelievable.

Charlie Cadbury
So over the next couple of years, you will be walking into almost any room, and almost any electronic device will have some way to interact with it using these assistants. Move forward a little bit further, and what’s been very well proven out is understanding who is speaking. So I could walk into your house for the first time and say: Alexa can you put toothpaste on my shopping list. It was a yes, Charlie, you’ll know it’s me. So you having access to your assistant anywhere you go is not too far fetched.

Alexandra King
That is interesting. Although the flip side of this would be privacy. What are your views on the risks to privacy?

Charlie Cardbury
We’ve seen over the last 10 years with the rise of mobile in 2008-2009 almost no one that I spoke to you would have ever considered doing banking on their phone because they didn’t trust this new channel. This was a new mobile on earth, and how could you secure phone? You can leave it anywhere. Some of us are going to have access to my banking, but then over time, utility has come above that, and we’ve seen that all of these concerns are not real and go away, because utility overrides the privacy or trust concerns.

Alexandra King
So they are real, we do have problems. But it’s not, you know, we address those…

Charlie Cardbury
Of course, it’s not the same antidote. It’s the same with any challenge with the new channels. But, well, you know they need to have some time where they’re betting in and trust rises. And we’ve seen that over the last 12 months people have gone from 40% of people regularly using their Alexas to 70% of people regularly using their Alexas. So the reason to engage with these is definitely on the rise.

Alexandra King
So let’s talk about a different type of risk. The risk to businesses that don’t use this new technology… Is there one?

Charlie Cardbury
In the early days of search, the ability to find your brand within a voice environment is really going to be the challenge. If you’re not there, then you can’t be found. And now it is the time to try and learn about what kind of experiences your brand should be building within these platforms, and how you are represented and presented then learn how to optimise those. Because as we’ve seen with the growth in this voice channel, it’s gonna be a more important view to workout, how you maintain your voice. Otherwise, it’s not a whole list of results that you get from a search perspective. It’s a real whatever they call scenario.

Alexandra King
Speaking about brands and specifically you and your brand. I’ve noticed that you tend to put yourself out there quite a bit. Do you have a book? The Children’s book called This One, which you wrote for your daughter. Was it?

Charlie Cardbury
For her first birthday. I had to find a way to get her attention.

Alexandra King
That’s a lovely way. That’s really sweet. You’ve also done a lot of press, including the telegraph, and you’re on LinkedIn, you’re on Twitter and you’re on Instagram. So how important is it to you to put yourself forward as the face of your businesses?

Charlie Cardbury
So if you speak to anyone who I’ve met, they’ll probably agree that I tried to wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s very important for me to try and deliver an image which is open and receptive because I see myself as the person who’s generating a repeatable and predictable series of opportunities into my business.

Alexandra King
What skills do you need? What do you need to overcome in order to be able to build your personal brand in the way that you have?

Charlie Cardbury
You need to find inspiration in every week. So one of the best bits of advice is that I was given was exactly this. You need become famous within your own community on LinkedIn.

Alexandra King
That’s interesting, famous within your own community.

Charlie Cardbury
For one thing, so you know, if you’ve got your group of connections on LinkedIn, you need to be known for the one person to go to with one type of problem. And I would very much hope that the people are connected with me on LinkedIn to know that if they want to understand a bit more about voice or chatbots, or how to deliver personalised conversations at scale, then I am an approachable person to begin that conversation.

Alexandra King
It’s really good because there are a lot of business people out there that are a little bit shy, you know, introverted, and they don’t want to put themselves out there. They think that maybe, you know, they get embarrassed about it. And what would you say to them?

Charlie Cardbury
That it is? There is never been easier to create little bits of content, and it’s just as with anything in life. My kids, they just learned to ride a bike, and now we’re running behind them to terrified, crazy state school and back Every day is all about practise, So you’re the first year of writing, blogs or writing updates can be terrifying, but get better things over time. You know, you just need to practise.

Alexandra King
That is true, to practice it becomes less scary. Let’s say the more you do it becomes the second nature and what you were on.

Charlie Cardbury
Don’t believe all the numbers. So you know you put a post out and you don’t think they’ve been seen. But you meet so many people whose art I saw your thing on this and you didn’t like it. But it doesn’t matter.

Alexandra King
People like it, when you saw.

Charlie Cardbury
People, it states they don’t get. Don’t get upset about the metrics behind things. Just know that what content you put out is being seen, and everything has a value.

Alexandra King
That’s true. Someone doesn’t have to like it today. They would have seen it. I saw something on your website and I’m going to read it to you on. I believe you’ve written this yourself. So it says in your own words. Charlie is at the peak of his existence and will continue to improve with age. And I definitely believe that is the case.

Charlie Cardbury
So this comes from my understanding of lean and agile principles. And I believe that as individuals or his businesses or his digital products, they should never be completed on DH business that you’re involved within six months’ time. It will be in a far more Progress Day because he should evolve every day. And it had changed with the needs of your customer the same as you as an individual. Six months ago, I was a child in comparison to the man I am today, and I hope that in six months’ time I know I’m going to improve any further. And if you’re building any digital product, whether that be some kind of conversational experience or even a website or nap. He needs to be continued. If you understand the businesses and people are changing on a day by day basis, you need to make sure that you are changing your product or service to exactly fit the demands of an ever-changing world.

Alexandra King
That is incredible. You do need to monitor your environment, don’t you? Closely and keep your finger on the pulse. But, Charlie, it’s being fabulous. Having you so interesting. Thank you so much for coming in today.

Charlie Cardbury
The pleasure. Thanks.

Alexandra King
That was voice integration expert Charlie Cadbury, CEO of Say it Now.

Alexandra King
Watch Time’s show.

Alexandra King
It is at this point in our podcast that we’re going to take more of an in-depth look from a digital agency perspective. I’ll be speaking to experts in the digital field who can help us take a deeper dive into the insights we’ve gained so far and their impact on marketing strategy. This week we’re sticking with the voice to discuss the rise of voice search. I’m joined by Natalie and Elliot from MintTwist, lovely to have you both here.

Natalie El Khoury
Great to be here!

Elliott King
Great to be here!

Alexandra King
So Charlie mentioned that it’s a risk for businesses not to have a voice strategy from a mint twist perspective. Is it critical?

Elliott King
So we’re seeing that cleanse don’t necessarily need a voice strategy 40 days. But what they certainly need to do is understanding their audience and those audience segments that might be increasingly using voice in order to search for the brand or relevant phrases that they might be interested in. So, for example, we work with a number of universities, and obviously they’re targeting a relatively young demographic Generation Z, and we’re seeing a significant increase in year one-year searches that are initiated from a voice-activated device.

Natalie El Khoury
I think it’s also important to add that companies and brands currently have nailed down their video strategies, their content strategies. So it’s definitely important eventually to have a voice strategy as well. That’s going to complement the overall overarching strategy of a brand.

Alexandra King
Yes. Oh, Natalie, it’s really interesting that you mentioned the video and content strategies and our voice strategies. Ah, branding is part of the strategies. So how important is personal branding?

Elliott King
So, personal branding, I think, is really important, especially for any business that’s service-based. I mean, MintTwist is essentially a people-based business, and the customers that we work with want to know the people with whom they’re will be working. So we see all of our colleagues, all of our people, actually as brand ambassadors for our business, and we expect them to present themselves on DH pushed themselves forward on DH. We see that as actually value that we can leverage on DH. It becomes connected. Part of the MintTwist’s overall brand strategy.

Alexandra King
So do you anticipate MintTwist having its own voice assistant or cheque pot assistant anytime soon? And if you do what sort of personality brand personality would it take on?

Elliott King
Well, it’s an interesting question. I think in the short term, chatbots can be developed relatively easily, but they work currently as question and answer bots, so you can set them up to answer specific questions. I think building in the personality is very much a few years down the line and will probably be drawing down on the sorts of technologies that Charlie’s team and organisation will be developing. I would like to think, however, that MintTwists chatbots would have a friendly professional on DH. Yeah, all around. A very amiable personality.

Alexandra King
Surely not. Not so much of a Don Draper from Mad Men, then.

Elliott King
Not quite a Don Draper. I think a little bit more easy going a little bit. More friendly. A little bit more approachable. I’d like to think a little bit more loyal.

Natalie El Khoury
Maybe more of a John Snow. Well, there you go.

Alexandra King
Watch Time’s show.

Alexandra King
Life is never straightforward, is it? That’s why we’re giving you our podcast, listeners the opportunity to ask our experts any burning questions. We’re going to begin with a common problem that is on all our minds. Is our smartphone spying on us? Natalie, is it?

Natalie El Khoury
It’s interesting you mention that, actually, because I have a little bit of a funny story. So some of you may know actually that MintTwist is an office that used to be Roc Nation, which is Jay Z’s recording label, and we still sometimes receive big packages for celebrities, and we recently received a quite a big one. And once we opened it up, it was a massive bottle of Moet Shandon. Don’t very fancy champagne, right? So You know, we were just talking about it in the office and very excited about receiving this big bottle on DH. Then next thing I know, I open Instagram and I see an ad from Moet Chandon. And I was really surprised because I had never searched for it before. You know, I work in digital marketing. I should know how they would, actually. Yeah, exactly. And then following a few months later, I’m telling the story to my cousin, in a completely different country, completely different setting. So again mentioning Moet Chandon, don’t over and over again. And then a day later, my cousin text me and she’s like, “You wouldn’t believe it, but I just got targeted with an ad by Moet as well, my goodness, That that nice Jerry?” Yeah, Very creepy. So obviously, as a marketer, I went away, started researching it. I was like, how can I don’t know they’re doing this? But crazily enough, Facebook neither confirms nor denies that so. There’s no actual proof or evidence of the fact that they’re your smartphones are listening to you. So we don’t really know if that is the case, but it’s definitely something. We are witnessing a lot.

Elliott King
So many twists the partners with Facebook and Google and all of the big digital advertisers. And it’s certainly the case that there is no official capability for agencies or brands. To uses voice recognition as a driver for sending targeted ads to consumers. However, like Natalie said, because the platforms neither confirm or deny that the capability, at least the underlying capability is there. It wouldn’t surprise me if the platforms were running so-called dark experiments into the effectiveness of that form of advertising, and it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if it comes into being at some stage in the near future.

Alexandra King
I’m still really quite freaked out by what Natalie said. It does sound like we truly are being spied on. But we can’t really confirm that’s spying.

Elliott King
It’s a funny way of looking at it, isn’t it? It certainly is. Fountains are listening to us. They have to be able to respond when we say, Hey, Siri or Hello, Alexa So they’re certainly listening to us. The question is whether they’re using those inputs to Dr. Advertising, and we certainly don’t want them to be listening to everything that we’re saying Dewey.

Alexandra King
That concludes our podcast. Email any questions you have to podcast at Watch time dot site, or you can visit us on watch time dot sides to learn more about any of us or our guests, and do subscribe to hear more from us. Thank you for listening to the watch time broadcast brought to you by digital agency MintTwist.

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