With the year that many felt would never end finally drawing to a close, pundits from all industries will pounce on the opportunity to make obligatory pronouncements intended to tie the year up with a bow, designed to lure readers from hyperbole-rich headlines to underwhelming narratives in an effort to try to end a bleak 2020 on a high note.
I’m not here to do that.
However, I do stand by the proclamation in the headline. This was indeed The Year of Voice, but not because there are now over 4.2 billion digital voice-assistants in the world, or because almost 160 million people made sure their voices were heard in the 2020 presidential election — but because now, more than ever before, people are striving to be heard. People need to believe that what they think and say matters. People want to know that institutions, the government, politicians, their friends, colleagues, companies, and brands are listening to them. After all, it’s their voice that connects them to the world.
But if no one is listening, does our voice really matter? Would Shakespeare’s Macbeth be right in saying that our life is nothing more than a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing? I beg to differ. Because if our life is indeed full of sound, be it a furious scream or a faint sigh, then it does indeed have great significance. Not because I say it does, but because the moment you hear those utterances emanate from a fellow human being, your heart and mind sync up with theirs, and you are able to feel them greatly and understand them deeply. The human voice has the power to connect us, inspire us, heal us, and transform us.
I have personally seen the profound significance of voice in the seven years since founding inVibe Labs. By listening to thousands of hours of patient and physician voices and extracting insights from their responses, I have learned how much life lives in the words we say and how we say them. This year, in particular, has really underscored this point for all of us.
This year we also heard more clients wanting to listen to the voice of their customers more than ever before. We heard patients and physicians wanting to share more than they ever have, talk for longer periods of time, divulge more intimate insights, and reveal deeper truths about themselves. This year we saw the demand for voice research grow exponentially, spilling beyond standard primary research solutions and into an entirely new world of voice applications. This included peer-to-peer physician portals, rare disease patient communities, and advocacy insight platforms. To keep up with the demand, we grew our staff by 50% and doubled-down our investments in advanced machine learning analytics, clinical-grade voice diagnostics, and linguistic talent that is helping us develop entirely new products and platforms.
2020 has brought us a world of struggle and suffering: for individuals, communities, and companies. Yet through it all, the people’s voice has been an indispensable bastion of progress, a sign of our survival, and a battle cry of equal rights. Perhaps it’s too soon to prognosticate, but I believe 2021 will finally be the year where we open up to the importance of listening more — not just to what is being said, but also to how it’s being said. To that end, if you are one of the many organizations looking to recoup the losses of 2020 and setting your organization up for a transformational 2021, I humbly submit this advice: Bet on Voice.