BBC Head of Voice and AI Andy Webb Discusses the Custom Voice Assistant Beeb – Voicebot Podcast Ep 153
Andy Webb is head of product for voice and AI at BBC Worldwide as VP of Product Strategy. BBC has been a pioneer in supporting consumer assistants globally such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The organization’s voice apps are prominent in the UK but also are available in many other countries as well. BBC is also one of the most respected news organizations worldwide so Amazon and Google are incentivized to make sure it is available through there assistants.
BBC is a great example of an organization that is leading in creating media that is ready for the voice era. Last August, BBC announced it would go beyond just creating content suitable for voice interactive experiences and create a new voice assistant of its own. The assistant is called “Beeb” based on one of its common nicknames in the UK.
The organization is not abandoning Alexa or Google Assistant. Instead, Webb tells me that they are supplementing their work on these platforms. Beeb is more than an assistant. It is BBC’s internal conversational engine that can enable a custom assistant deployed through desktop and mobile apps as well as support the many voice assistants that want access to BBC content. From Alexa to Mercedes and many others hungry for content to fulfill requests of their own voice assistants, Beeb will enable BBC interactions to contain an element of consistency across all platforms.
Media is one of the most popular and most important segments for voice assistants today. BBC is developing the Beeb to offer richer functionality than you could ever provide on the general-purpose consumer assistant platforms because of the limitations they impose on third-parties. In addition, with Beeb, BBC is free to define its own set of privacy and ethical guidelines around the use of voice and user data and not be forced into someone else’s framework.
We have a great conversation with Andy. He is really forthcoming about BBC’s organizational objectives, tech stack, development approach, features, and more. He offers many insights and some of them might just help you in efforts to build your own custom assistant.
Andy Webb joined BBC in 2106 and has been head of the voice and AI group since it was formed in 2017. Before his time at BBC, Webb was EMEA regional manager for Imagine Communications, head of product management for digital platforms at Arqiva and product development lead at Sky among other roles.
Show Notes – Andy Webb Interview BBC
- Read about the Beeb voice assistant: BBC Voice Assistant Beed Launches in Beta in the UK
- Read more about BBC’s services for voice experiences: BBC Launches Voice Interactive News Service
- You can try out Beeb as part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Programme in the UK: Learn more here
You can listen to the podcast interview above, on Google or Apple Podcasts or most of the leading podcast players.