Voice Interaction - How corporate communication changes from text to voice

Application of voice interaction

  • The best-known types of voice-user-interactions (VUIs) are personal digital assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, which are integrated into smartphones, laptops, or smart speakers and share similar basic features such as answering simple questions, playing music, and creating calendar appointments.  
  • Furthermore, voice interaction can also be integrated into Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including cars, smart home appliances, and TVs.
  • Voice interaction can also refer to VUIs designed for specific tasks rather than being a personal assistant. A popular example is voice bots for call centers which can take calls from customers, manage standardized interactions, and allocate callers to human employees.
  • Another example is voice search, which allows users to search the web through voice commands. Many Android smartphone users are used to saying “Ok, Google” to their smartphone to activate Google search and then verbally stating their search query.
  •  Moreover, voice search isn’t limited to search engines, but can also be implemented directly on a corporate or brand website to search its content.




Clubhouse - the first voice based social network

The Clubhouse app is a new type of social network which is entirely based on audio content and voice. In different “rooms”, users can have conversations with strangers, colleagues, and friends or listen in on the conversations of others. It was developed by the US company Alpha Exploration Co. and a beta version was released in spring 2020. In order to join the app, one needs an iOS device and an invitation from someone who is already part of it (status as of January 2021). Clubhouse is planned to become available for everyone in the future.


“Speech is the fundamental means of human communication.”

Clifford Nass & Scott Brave, Stanford University

Relevance for corporate communications

Threat and opportunity for corporate visibility:

  • The increase in voice-based searches, for example through Siri or Alexa, might affect the visibility of any company’s public communication on search engines. Therefore, the “race to the top” in search engine ranking, such as appearing in Google’s Featured Snippet, is likely to increase.
  • Furthermore, initial research suggests that typed search queries differ from spoken search queries in several respects.
  • Accordingly, different search engine optimization (SEO) strategies might be required for spoken queries to increase the chances of corporate communication messages and platforms ranking high in the search results.


New requirements and opportunities for content management

  • To meet the demand for voice interaction and to increase the accessibility of digital content for all users, communication professionals should develop more audio content for existing platforms such as corporate websites. 
  • Purely visual and textual content can be complemented by integrating voice search on the website, or by developing more voice assets, such as podcasts.
  • Additionally, communication professionals could develop new communication formats for smart speakers. Both Google and Amazon allow third parties to develop services for their smart speakers.


Advanced personalized communication

  • Voice interaction is predicted to create new opportunities for more personalized corporate communications.
  • This could be relevant to more targeted customer segmentation and communication. Investing in voice interaction is therefore also an investment in a source of data with enormous potential.
  • Additionally, by considering information such as the user’s past queries, location, shopping history, calendar, and characteristics of their environment, voice user interfaces are predicted to discover more about the context in which communication happens.


Key Facts about the 5 trends

  • Denialism: Denialism has become a central issue in out digitalized world. Rumors and false information can be spread much easier trough social media platforms than ever before and so have the potential to influence public opinions.Communicators have the task to identify denialism and find suitable strategies to obviate misinformation and protect the company.
  • Virtual Corporate Communications: Due to digitalization, new ways of communication, such as virtual formats, have become the new normal. This opens up several opportunities, but also challenges for communication departments. Topics such as remote leadership, digital collaboration and employee motivation show the importance of personal communication and thus the urgency of proper virtual formats.
  • Sustainble Communications: Environmental Sustainability has become an important issue in society, but also for corporations. Thus, this topic has raising relevance for communication departments and communicator, who have to integrate sustainability in their strategic communcation.
  • Digital Nudging: Digital nudging can support in leading the way towards effective virtual decision-making by employees throughout the organization. For communication leaders it is an opportunity to raise their profile within the company as experts on optimizing digital environments. 
  • Voice Interaction: The increase in voice-based searches might affect the visibility of any company’s public communication on search engines. In addition, Voice interactions allows corporate communications to reach out to stakeholders in a new way, and to position the company as an innovative brand. 



  1. Sources & screening: First, information sources which provide relevant insights into the professional discourse in the areas of management, technology, and society were monitored and screened. These sources primarily include recent publications from scientific journals and conferences in the respective domains, but also selected newspapers (e.g., Economist Science and Technology), magazines (e.g., Harvard Business Review, Wired), social news sites (e.g., Reddit Science), blogs and websites (e.g., ReadWrite, The Next Web), whitepapers, and corporate trend reports.
  2. Trend profiles: Each potential trend was systematically documented in a trend profile consisting of a brief description and several criteria estimating the trend’s relevance to corporate communications. Specifically, we assessed the impact of the trend on the corporate communications function, processes and management.
  3. Scoring: Based on the criteria detailed in the trend profiles, a scoring method was developed that was used to rate each of the trends.
  4. Selection: These trends were first discussed among the Communications Trend Radar team during a workshop. Each team member then voted individually for the top trends in the areas of management, technology, and society. We proposed five trends for 2021 (depicted below) based on the outcome of this process.
  5. Reflection: These trends were examined further and later discussed with approximately 20 communication leaders during an online workshop in November 2020.
  6. Report: All trends were analyzed and described in more detail in our publication - the Communications Trend Radar


Research team

The Communications Trend Radar 2021 project was conducted by a research team of the Leipzig and the University of Duisburg-Essen.

from left to right:  

  • Ansgar Zerfass is Professor and Chair of Strategic Communication at the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at Leipzig University, Germany. 
  • Daniel Ziegele, M.A. is a research associate at the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at Leipzig University, Germany. 
  • Sünje Clausen, M.Sc. is a research associate at the chair of Professional Communication in Electronic Media/Social Media at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
  • Florian Brachten, M.Sc. is a research associate at the chair of Professional Communication in Electronic Media/Social Media at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. 
  • Stefan Stieglitz is Professor of Professional Communication in Electronic Media/Social Media at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.