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This is the transcript for the opening keynote presented by Bradley Metrock, CEO of Project Voice, presented on day one of Project Voice X.

The transcript below has been modified by the Deepgram team for readability as a blog post, but the original Deepgram ASR-generated transcript was 94% accurate.  Features like diarization, custom vocabulary (keyword boosting), redaction, punctuation, profanity filtering and numeral formatting are all available through Deepgram’s API.  If you want to see if Deepgram is right for your use case, contact us.

[Bradley Metrock:] Alright. We’re ready to go. Welcome to Project Voice x. Give yourselves a round of applause. So we’re looking forward to this. You know, we’re we’re so glad that y’all are here. You know, we we know that people will be coming in throughout the two and a half days, but we’re grateful for each and every one of you. I’ve got a brief presentation that I’ll be using to start the day off, and it’s just gonna be an exciting day full of a lot of different speaker for a lot of different points of view that that will add a lot to your business and and give you good perspective heading to the end of the year. My name is Bradley Metrock. I’m CEO of a company called Project Voice. We do a lot to accelerate the adoption of voice technology and conversational AI. I’ll go into that a little bit here.

But all in all, we just, you know… I I guess the one main point I wanna make is just how hard it is to do an in-person event. Every single thing that you look around here and see or the the Voiceflow social… make sure you sign up for that by the way. There’s an email prolly in your inbox from Eventbrite this afternoon. Deepgram’s got a movie screening of Dune Tuesday afternoon, so there’s some fun stuff. It looks like the weather’s gonna cooperate. But in-person events are real hard, and they’re hard for a lot of different reasons, but the fact is they’re real hard. So a lot of gratitude for y’all being here, and thank you for setting the time aside.

So just a little bit about us to bore you right off the bat. Project Voice Catalyst is a consulting program. We started amidst the pandemic to help companies that are born native to voice and AI. Now this program has represents over seven billion dollars in market value of companies working in the space. Rob Fletcher, who you met, runs this for us. We’ll be talking about this later on. Project Voice capital partners, this is a twenty million dollar venture capital fund. It’s just now getting stood up that Marc Ladin and I are running. Excited to to hear a bunch of great pitches Wednesday morning from a lot of interesting companies and excited to talk to them and and and help them every way we can. This Week In Voice VIP, this is a Substack newsletter that some people read for some reason that I write.

So in this talk, I’m gonna talk briefly about what I see with voice and AI coming down the pike, and I’m gonna spend much more time talking about a personal story that I think is very applicable to to where we all sit right now. And, like, all of the This Week In Voice VIPs, the newsletter I write, all of ’em have a musical theme. And and so the name of this talk, I just decided to call it Brand New Day. So Sting came out with this album and this song twenty two years ago this month, and he wrote it for separate reasons. But as he’s talked about amidst the pandemic, it’s become very pressing, you know, to to help, you know, help people think about how to possibly get through what we’ve all been through and get into a next chapter. And I thought it would be a good place… oh, I forgot about this. So Sting had an interview that was in conjunction with… he’s gonna do a Residency in Las Vegas, and he was talking about this song in particular. I thought it would be a good place to start this entire conference just playing this song.

Typically, I wouldn’t probably spend four minutes to do this, but I challenge you to listen to the words of this. And I’m gonna share some stuff about voice and AI. Three things, I think, are gonna happen. We’ll talk some technology, but this is not a bad place to start. And this gets subscribers a chance to get it here too, so I’m gonna hit play if I can. Let’s see if this will… oh, let’s see if this will work.

[SPEAKER 2:] — then I’d feel like it was worthwhile. It’s always a pleasure to have our next guest on the show. This is the new CD, Brand New Day. And next week, he begins touring the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, Sting.


[SPEAKER 3:] Thank you very much. Thank you.

[SPEAKER 2:] Sting, good to see you again. Great song. It’s a Brand New Day, ladies and gentlemen. We’ll be right back…

[Bradley Metrock:] I’m just a letterman, but that’s a separate subject. You know, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that coming out of this pandemic, it…

it’s almost like everything that came before with voice and AI is gone. A lot of the players are gone. It’s… there’s there’s incredible new interest. The whole landscape is different.

Every time I see some sort of statistic from, you know, twenty eighteen or something like that, it it it feels dated and and almost useless. It’s exciting to come to something like this and see the beginnings, the ground swell, the the seedlings starting to to pop up for what’s to come. You know, COVID impacted everybody, and it’s just a deeply traumatic event. And, you know, the the the the few… I like this graphic just because of how much it represents out the whole thing, united everybody, but now it it becomes who can move the quickest. And that’s that’s what I’m gonna talk about here.

We had a couple of things happened during the pandemic that that sorta shaped the perspective of the space. This is one of ’em, Microsoft buying Nuance. I can’t tell you how many people just did I interact with that this affected. So just the numbers of the deal, the companies involved with the deal. There was people who didn’t hear anything about any of this stuff that we’re gonna hear all about today until this, and it’s important to sit here and know just to sort of reset the stage for this conference. But I’ll tell you a deal that I think is maybe a little bit more worth paying attention to, and I’ma talk about this a second. So Aiquodo. Does anybody in this room know who that is or was? Ok. So a couple. So Aiquodo was a company that we worked with and really liked them. John Foster, intense intense guy. But they had they had the distinction of being the only company that I have ever seen, in which the cofounders argued with themselves on stage in the middle of an event. It was our event, so I know. I saw it. And it was bitter, and it was it was weird. And, you know, they got a good… they had a good product and everything, but it was super weird. And and they had some challenges, but even despite all of that, earlier this year, they’re bought by Peloton. And I think that this… even more than the the Nuance and the Microsoft gets all the headlines, but for the people in this room, I would say take a good look at this deal here for a glimpse into the future. Because what I see when I look at that is that no matter what it is you’re doing in the space, how you’re almost… no matter how it is you’re doing it, there’s such a dearth of companies doing meaningful work in the space and such a lack of… such scarcity of talented people working in the space.

Then one of the things I think we’re gonna see is, you know, companies that maybe in twenty seventeen or twenty eighteen would’ve never been acquired by anybody get snapped up as if they were hot commodities. So I think it’s a good news story, and that’s really where these three takeaways come into play. Let me hit that right there. So there’s three three voice and AI points I’m gonna make here before I tell a personal story, and then I’m gonna be done. So twenty seventeen, twenty eighteen, there was a lot of conversation about what’s the killer app for voice. You know, that was a common refrain. What’s a killer app for voice? And then you had people arguing like, what is that even supposed to mean? It was a good rhetorical question for for debate purposes.

But along came contact centers, and it’s gotten to the point now where if you have a contact center or call center operation of some sort, and you don’t have voice and AI deeply in… interwoven into how that thing work, sure, you’re ancient. You know, you’re you’re uncompetitive, and, you know, you’re you’re definitely behind. And it’s interesting to look at that and realize that and and then jump to the next conclusion, which is that every single other industry will ultimately end up that way. We’re gonna get to a point where if you don’t have a hotel with voice and AI integrated in different ways, you’re behind. You don’t have a hospital healthcare system with an integrated, you’re behind. If you… if your triple a video game title doesn’t have an integrated, somehow, you’re behind. I could go on and on. So that’s that’s one thing to realize sort of as we embark on a new chapter.

Second thing is voice payments. So, you know, voice payments and voice commerce is something that impacts everybody who’s here. The willingness of people to make payments with voice is really important, and this is another one of these things where there’s sort of a pre-pandemic way of looking at this, and then there’s a current way of looking at this. The pre-pandemic way of looking at this was, well, ok. You know, for repeat purchasing, I could see it working. Maybe under the right circumstances, but making origin… original purchases of things that you never bought before, I don’t know. Well, along came the pandemic, and there’s a couple of little data points I could hold up, but this is this is one I thought would do the best job. So I would never buy a car online. I would just never do it. I I don’t think I would ever do it. I I guess you never say never. But this article talks about… and this is just from a few days ago. It talks about how people are buying cars online. I could’ve chosen anything I wanted to choose. I could’ve chose… my wife buys a bunch of stuff online, clothing-wise, and then, like, returns it, you know, ’cause that’s just the way it needs to work if people aren’t comfortable with dressing rooms. And the pandemic has changed purchasing habits, such that the door is now open for voice commerce and voice payments in a way that I don’t think it was before. So that’s the second point I wanna make.

And then the third is just touching on something I already said. I think that we’re looking at a big shortage of people who know how to add value in the space, and I think that, you know, there’s there’s corresponding opportunities related to that. I think that you were gonna see more education at the collegiate level. I think we’ll see more continuous learning and professional certifications and things like that to get people trained up, but the nearer term outcome of that is a lot of merger and acquisition activity to try to capture that labor where it exist. So those are sort of the three things I wanted to lay out. And, you know, I I wanted to tell a story.

You know, the technology you’re gonna hear a bunch about that today, but I wanted to tell a story that’s a little personal just to try to get you thinking in a certain way. So these two people, I… they… I don’t need to say their names. They’re they’re friends of mine. So they were married long ago, and, you know, they… this is this is them, their family here. And so then they had this child here, and his name is Leland. And he was born with a condition that basically causes you to have seizures all the time. So you have seizures all the time, and when I say all the time, I I mean it. And and so what happens when you have seizures all the time is that doctors go through a a see… a sequence of steps to figure out what works for you and what does not work for you. So there’s there’s a drug and then there’s another drug and then there’s another drug and then there’s another drug. And and what happens when none of them work is something called a hemispherectomy.

So I wish I had never heard of this word or that it didn’t need to exist, but it’s actually kind of a miracle. And what this means is that when your brain… so they… they’ve studied seizures, and they know seizures well enough to know you might have three fourths of a working brain, and one fourth is the problem causing the seizures. So depending on if it’s horizontal. You know, there’s two horizontal. You know, the left and right part of the brain, and then there’s a top and the bottom part. Not to go into a bunch of detail here, but depending on what quadrant it’s in depends on what they’ll do. And what they do is they cut your brain in half, and that’s where this term comes from. And the the the metaphor here is that you… you know, I’ve seen it with this event here. I’ve seen it with a bunch of stuff that we do that’ll… that… I think the story for this next chapter is… and and companies that go on to be successful will recognize the part of them that’s not working. And it’s hard to make a cut. The… there’s the type of cut that many of us have to make. You know, coming out of the pandemic, we had plenty of time to sit around and think about the people in our lives that are holding us back, the things in our lives that are holding us back, the people that our companies that, you know, don’t wanna be there, and and sort of reflect on what it is that we actually wanna be doing. But making the cut is hard.

But what happened in this case is they took Leland to to have this hemispherectomy, and not only did he recover, but he’s now seeing a lot of brain functionality that is not normally seen. He’s way above average, and he’s he’s gaining a lot of skills. And he’s gonna have a normal… you know, relatively normal life. And every day is joyful for this group of people. So the point I wanna make is you’re you’re gonna hear a lot about the technology, and and I like to see the dip and dust back there. Hopefully, you’ll get a lot of dip and dust today. We we added that as a permanent fixture in here. But there’s a lot of people who are having a lot of trouble getting over what has happened to them last twelve to eighteen months. And the fact that you’re sitting in here means that you’re multiple standard deviations further along than they are, and you should be thankful for that because there’s plenty of people who have gone through hard cuts and hard choices they’ve had to make. And so anything that happens here, hopefully, is easy by comparison. I talked earlier this year when we did Project Voice a hundred about the k.

When the pandemic started, we thought that there would be a v-shaped recovery. That was wrong. The the premise of that was, you know, a little crater and then come right back… the world would just come right back to the way it was. That was completely wrong. The k is all about… half of half of us are moving up, and half of us are moving down. And even within that, we might be moving in a positive direction from a business point of view, but from a mental health point of view or spiritual point of view, we may be moving down.

And so, ultimately, we’re just gonna end up at the bottom part of the cave. I challenge you as you’re hearing all the talks and enjoying some time to yourself over the next two and a half days to think about, you’re gonna win from a technological standpoint being here. There’s plenty of people to meet that are gonna help set you on the right course. You’re already on the right course. We know who’s here and who’s registered. But what are those other things that you can do from a personal standpoint to to make your life better and more joyful and to have the right perspective? If that’s if that’s some… you know, a way that I can get you to think heading into this conference, then this was worth the time. So that’s my email address there. We’re excited to have just what… what’ll be a fun, casual, but very valuable experience these next couple of days. Thank you for being here, and thank you for listening to this. So next up… and we’ll just get right into it. And I’ll be MC-ing throughout the day, by the way. We’re fortunate to have Amazon be part of what we’re doing, and the gentleman you’re about to hear is Jeff Blankenburg. He’s done a phenomenal job helping Amazon continue to grow their business and continue to maintain their positioning within voice. Let’s give him a round of applause.

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