It is the question the leaders at every business — big and small — should be asking themselves:
Does voice technology have any practical application for us?
There’s just one problem: In most cases, the answer isn’t clear.
It certainly wasn’t for Madison-based Realogy Holdings Corp., the largest residential real estate company in the country, according to Chris Padilla, senior director of product development.
Padilla, speaking at the introductory news conference for this week’s VOICE Summit at New Jersey Institute of Technology, said the company was intrigued by the technology but unsure of its application.
“We started the journey as a look at innovative tech: Let’s see what the right use case was,” he told ROI-NJ. “We explored it.
“Instead of just getting involved in it, just to get involved, we reached out to our agents. We started walking through a day in the life and we started listening and learning.
“What we realized was that there’s a use for us in this space. What we realized was that voice can help give our agents time back in their life.”
Next week, the company will launch Agent X, a voice-based system that agents can access through the Alexa Skill Store.
Padilla called it a win-win for the company, which oversees four large residential real estate agencies: Better Homes and Gardens, Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and ERA.
Voice technology, Padilla and Realogy learned, has applications they never thought of.
“Here’s a good example of what they can do,” he said. “An agent is in between two appointments. They can now say, ‘What is the latest details on this that I need to know before I go in with my buyer?’ or ‘What’s my next appointment?’
“In voice, that can happen in seconds, versus finding the time to go into a system and find the answer.”
Padilla feels the voice technology not only will make their jobs easier, it will make the Realtors better at their jobs as they will become more knowledgeable about advanced technologies.
“It helps equip our real estate agents with the knowledge of a smart home,” he said.
Padilla said he actually feels Agent X will be a win-win-win for the company.
“When you tie it all together, you realize it’s not replacing any products or people,” he said. “We want to able to leverage the data and technology that we’re already offering; this is just another way to access that.”