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Starbucks Brings Voice Ordering Virtual Assistant To iOS App

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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The virtual assistant indicates the future smart software has in the business to consumer space

Starbucks has perked up its use of technology by debuting a virtual assistant in its My Starbucks iOS app that allows customers to order their complex coffee via voice commands.

The tax-avoiding bean crunching company plans to rollout the virtual assistant to beta tester in the early part of 2017 and indicates how virtual assistants have a role to play in the business to consumer arena.

Giving Alexa a shot

amazon-echoStarbucks is also launching the voice ordering serviced as a skill for Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant platform, which should enable bleary-eyed tech adopters to bark at their Amazon Echo and its virtual assistant to order them a ‘extra hot, skinny macchiato’ without needed to deal with an enthusiastic barista that fails to get your name right every time you try to get you morning cup of enablement.

“The Starbucks experience is built on the personal connection between our barista and customer, so everything we do in our digital ecosystem must reflect that sensibility,” said Gerri Martin-Flickinger, chief technology officer for Starbucks, detailing the company’s mission for its use of technology.

“Our team is focused on making sure that Starbucks voice ordering within our app is truly personal and equally important was finding the right partner in Amazon to test and learn from this new capability. These initial releases are easy to use providing a direct benefit to customers within their daily routine and we are confident that this is the right next step in creating convenient moments to complement our more immersive formats. We expect to learn a lot from these experiences and to evolve them over time.”

While we can predict that there may be a few instances of the voice commands going awry and ending up putting an extra shot of espresso into the coffee of someone who really should stick to camomile tea, Starbucks’ adoption of the technology and its aim to add the skill to Alexa demonstrates the potential for virtual assistants to actively bridge services and interactions between businesses and their customers.

Currently, virtual assistants are very much focused on the consumer market, particularly with the debut of the artificial intelligence powered Google Assistant. But with the rise of chat bots and other smart agents, enterprises could see an rise in the use of clever software to help smooth the daily running of a business.

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