Enterprise Social Audio – Research, Implementation and Opportunities

Audio in the form of podcasts has become increasingly popular as a digital medium in recent years. In the U.S., one in two people have already consumed podcasts and 32% are monthly listeners. In Germany, one in five listens to a podcast at least once a month. In addition to the podcast phenomenon, which has existed and established itself in the market for some time, a new medium is now blossoming – social audio. Unlike podcasts, which are a one-way broadcast medium (they are recorded to be listened to in the future), this is real-time audio. Listeners can actively participate in the dialogue.

Social audio apps like Clubhouse seem to benefit from several factors. Headphones and earbuds have become ubiquitous; Bluetooth-based offerings, like Apple’s Airpods, have built-in microphones, making communication easy and intuitive. The podcast boom also appears to be a driving factor. Audio-based content has an enormous reach, and users are now accustomed to audio formats. Last but not least, digital voice communication has become commonplace, driven by voice messaging and phone calls via messenger platforms like Whatsapp, among others.

The Corona pandemic also seems to have played its part, as people began to experience Zoom Fatigue after only a short time. On the one hand, text messages simply don’t convey the emotions and nuances that human character requires – especially during isolation. On the other hand, Zoom calls and video calls are simply too exhausting, too demanding for us humans in the long run. For example, we mainly look at our own faces to make sure that the vegetables from lunch are not still stuck between our teeth. In general, this can be summarized under the camera effect. Many people are blocked and do not dare to speak if they feel they are being watched.

Currently, there are more than 40 companies or apps that are active in the field of “social audio”. The largest include Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, Facebook Live Audio, Spotify Greenroom and Reddit Talk. In June 2020, Discord announced a new tagline, “Your place to talk,” in an attempt to make the service seem less gamer-centric to capitalize on people’s need to connect during the pandemic. In response to the hype around Clubhouse, a new feature has now also been implemented that further supports this new direction – Discord Stages. Other notable mentions are Fireside, Cappucino and Angle Audio. Interestingly enough Angle Audio switched to a SAaaS (Social Audio as a Service) offering recently.
ProductHunt reported a significant increase in new audio products for 2020, explaining that face-to-face encounters are currently becoming more difficult to maintain due to social distancing, but social connections and exchange are needed more than ever.

Since audio as a medium is still a niche market in organizations, we at InspireNow wanted to find out whether this hype, this success in terms of audio-based content, can also find resonance in the business and professional environment. We perceive great potential, especially in terms of knowledge transfer.

That is why we have decided to delve deeper into the topic by means of an innovation project. The overall goal of this innovation project was to evaluate whether Enterprise Social Audio works, i.e. whether the added value and appeal of social audio can also be used in the context of companies, institutions and organizations. This was evaluated in the context of our existing SaaS solution InspireNow.


If you're looking for a step-by-step guide on how to include and implement 
social audio in your own mobile app, I'm afraid this blog post is not for you. 
Rather I'm going to give a birdseye view over the topic itself and depict the 
procedure of analyzing requirements for enterprise context. 
I'll describe some challenges encountered during development and 
provide insights into security, GDPR and compliance concerns. 


Approach

In the first step, a feasibility study was carried out on the basis of a proof of concept in order to obtain initial certainty for the technical viability.

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