In the three months since the launch of Telefonica’s digital assistant, Aura, has been downloaded by 470,000 users; perhaps the telcos can muscle in on the smart assistant market currently dominated by Google and Amazon.
It’s a position at the top of the totem pole which few telcos have been used to in recent years. Although the features are simplistic in comparison to leaders in the market, there are plans to further develop services to manage smart home devices. Such a proposition, should it prove to be any good, would elevate Telefonica up the value chain in the digital ecosystem, while also opening new opportunities to generate revenue.
Aura in Movistar+ allows users to search through content using a number of different differentiators such as genre, actors or directors, as well as recommending alternative titles and controlling the functions on a smart TV. New features would have to be released before too long, however users do seem to be happy with the service thus far. 90% of respondents to Telefonica’s own research suggest they would continue to use the assistant, 50% said it improves their own Movistar+ experience, while 70% claim it improved their impression of the Movistar+ brand.
To date, virtual assistants have largely baffled the telcos, with the likes of Google and Amazon taking a leadership position in the field. While prioritizing activities in areas which are more likely to produce success is a perfectly valid approach, allowing the internet giants to control the interaction with the consumer also grants them first pick of the cash which can be gleamed through the digital community. The further down the totem pole telcos sit, the smaller the share of the profits.
That said, Telefonica’s research suggests there might be room at the top. And it is not alone. Last year, Orange launched its own virtual assistant Djingo onto the market, which has been successful enough for the French telco to tie up with DT in Germany. As part of the Magenta offering, DT white labelled the Djingo assistant for its own smart speaker. The pair have also jointly developed a voice-controlled ecosystem, centred around the TV. Djingo is also being used as part of the Orange Bank offering. Elsewhere in the Telefonica family, O2 in the UK have also been using the power of Aura to fuel its own AI chatbot as part of a customer services push.
These are very simplistic versions of the virtual assistant at the moment. Looking forward, the expectation is virtual assistants will be able to help us order our groceries, choose a takeaway and even co-ordinate with our diaries. There are also some apps on the market which can help you with personal banking and budgeting. Controlling the TV and searching through film databases is a nice little gimmick, but there will need to be more if Telefonica and the other telcos want to play in the added value aspects of the digital economy.
Telefonica’s success with the Aura virtual assistant does demonstrate there is potential for telcos in this area though. Google and Amazon might have stolen a lead, but there might be a way for the telcos to push themselves up the value chain and away from the dreading tag of connectivity utility.