CVAR is already putting cutting-edge voice technology to use.
Associations across the country, including Citrus Valley, are experimenting with applications that are giving “life” to Alexa and similar technologies. Why?
“Fifty percent of internet searches will be voice-based searches by 2020,” said Mark Epstein, CEO of Citrus Valley, explaining why the association is developing skills for brokers, members and staff.
The market for smart speakers and voice recognition services, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and Apple’s Siri–the tools utilized in smart homes–is exploding, and estimated to reach $31.82 billion by 2025, according to a November report by Grand View Research, Inc.
CVAR Among the First
For more than a year, Citrus Valley has been experimenting with smart speakers for association membership task. And last year, the association incorporated Alexa into Real Estate REvive, getting national notoriety for presenting a conference “co-hosted” by Alexa.
Author, Alexa Developer Doug Devitre
“The Citrus Valley Association of REALTORS® is the first association or organization that I know of that has developed an Amazon Alexa for their conference,” said Doug Devitre, an Amazon Alexa Developer and Certified Speaking Professional, who spoke at REvive 2018. “Not only was Alexa the co-emcee to introduce speakers, but made event information accessible to anyone who owned an Alexa device and added the skill.”
Even C.A.R. has made its member bulletin available on Alexa. If you download the Amazon Alexa “skill” (a voice-driven capability, like an app) from the California Associations of REALTORS®, you’ll get C.A.R.’s latest bulletin.
What Can You Do With Smart Speaker?
“What else can I do with an Amazon Alexa smart speaker?” is a question Devitre hears often, especially from homeowners, real estate companies and associations.
There are two options right now to develop an Amazon Alexa skill, Devitre said: “Pay some agency who may or may not have real estate experience to help you develop the skill, perform maintenance upgrades, and help with the proper marketing launch, or save thousands of dollars by learning how to develop your own Amazon Alexa skill.”
Devitre, author of “Living in a Voice First World,” is presenting the firstAlexa Skill Building Summit for the Real Estate Industryin Washington DC in May. Association staff members are signing up to learn how to build their own Alexa skill. Attendees will also learn how to generate leads using Alexa, turn Alexa into an “office assistant,” and much more. The summit is limited to 75 attendees, click the link for more details.
Layla Masri, president and co founder of Bean Creative, a digital agency that, like Devitre, also works with associations, has worked with two clients to develop Amazon skills that use information and data contained on a website or app.
“Our very first skill was developed in just a few days with little to no programming experience,” she said in an interview with Association Now.
Think Big, Start Small
The key is to start small. One of the first voice-enabled apps Masri’s team created is Association Stats, which generates brief answers to questions about membership organizations. Though simple, it helped the team gain confidence in developing voice-enabled apps.
“There’s a lot of prebaked options and tutorials, and for us, it was somewhat of a step-by-step process,” Masri says.
Both Devitre and Masri have incorporated fun, easy-to-use joke generators that are popular with smart speaker users. But the technology is still in its youth, so using a voice-enabled smart speaker to operate lights in your home could, on occasion, be misunderstood and leave you in the dark.
“The last thing you want is someone screaming at Alexa because she doesn’t understand,” said Masri, explaining why it’s important to make commands and questions short and simple.
“We’ve taken voice technology and made it successful for REvive,” said CVAR’s Epstein, “now we are working to provide a benefit to our members that will give them assistance 24 hours a day.”