From the first magical moment Siri answered questions during a 2011 Apple event, we knew that voice was going to become a major trend in computing, we just didn’t know when.

It would take a few more years before Alexa debuted in the Superbowl and it was clear that voice enhanced computing was finally arriving. Every other major technology behemoth has released their own service, spawning the typical sort of turf wars and land grabs that come with high profile technology releases.

This had us a little baffled though in the telecom industry. In one form or another, we’ve been creating voice enhanced, highly connected, deeply integrated network applications for decades.

Every major call center, most banks, even Disney has provided voice accessible value-added applications, either to enhance the user experience or to reduce the cost of providing service to their consumers. What changed?

To put it simply, expectations.

When it entered the general consciousness that it was possible to have an interaction with a computer that was more like Star Trek, the idea began to expand in the minds of many. People were no longer immediately satisfied with having to conform themselves to the input interface of the computer, but instead entertained the idea that they could train their applications to respond more humanly and socially.

Business owners immediately realized that the sort of voice systems used by the big guys was within their reach. They too could offer consumers the benefits previously relegated to the largest and best-capitalized businesses.

With this increase in expectations comes the need to find ways to integrate many disparate systems. Whether the user starts their interaction through a personal assistant like Siri or Alexa, or through a communication channel like a voice call to a contact center, now the need to converge systems and provide services via the user’s preferred communication channel is crucial.

Thus with the advent of a collective realization that computer generated voice interactions were an attainable interface for business services, everything that’s required to make those interactions complete, helpful, and fully featured caught fire. And that’s the trend. It may not be as flashy as the AI-driven voice interfaces themselves, but this is where the businesses will make money, add value, and reduce cost.

Voice and data convergence is here today.