Bringing Voice To The Masses

Perhaps you remember that moment in the 1990s when the internet and email transitioned from things only computer science majors talked about, to things everyone knew and used? It just sort of… happened. Maarten Lens-FitzGerald thinks that we're approaching a similar transition with voice assistant technology, and he’s a passionate evangelist for the value of voice.

Sure, there are already smart speakers all around us—from the phone in our pocket, to our automobiles, to the Alexa device on the kitchen counter—but, as Maarten reveals, voice technology is still very much in its nascent stage.

In this episode, Maarten talks with host Hans van Dam about his work helping organizations understand the value of voice, and navigating the challenges of implementation. Challenges like language, age, and standardization. Sure, for English speakers, voice technology may already seem commonplace, but what about multilingual environments like Europe, where not only is there more than one language, there are also regional dialects of those languages? 

Maarten also explores the question of older people, who are not as technically savvy or computer literate as your typical early adopter? And, just like things were with the internet and email in the Wild West 1990s, voice technology is currently a mélange of proprietary technologies that will require agreed-upon standards and protocols before it can become truly mainstream. 

There’s still a way to go, and still lots of work to be done, but Maarten is confident that voice assistant technology will soon be as commonplace as, you guessed it, the internet and email.

“Alexa: Taco's maken.”

Episode links:

Show links:



  • 02:15 Introduction, voice evangelist.
  • 04:39 It’s all about change management.
  • 07:10 The point of emergence.
  • 09:47 The need for standards.
  • 15:30 Project Zilver.
  • 19:20 The Dutch Voice Coalition.
  • 33:00 Finding compelling use cases.
  • 40:00 Mindset, skillset, culture and systems.