While the visionaries may bring resources to bear to shape an industry, influencers are the people that help adoption catch fire. They explain how a new technology can help not just consumers, but also corporations and other organizations in language they understand. While visionaries speak broadly, influencers can often speak about industry-specific applications. These are the trusted thought leaders that offer perspective on how a technology platform shift such as the rise of voice assistants will change many of our common assumptions. And, they also help people navigate the change by providing information and forums for learning. Our influencers range from a business leader with celebrity caché, Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media, to frequent conference keynote speakers Dave Isbitski and Max Amordeluso both from Amazon, and Noelle LaCharite from Microsoft to leading voice conference organizers Pete Erickson from Modev and Bradley Metrock of Score Publishing. Below we have included bios for each honoree and why they made the 2019 list.
To learn more about the selection methodology and honorees in the other categories go here: Go to Overview
WHY HE MADE THE LIST // As Amazon’s first chief evangelist for Alexa staring in 2014 before the product launch, Isbitski started out hosting office hours in Alexa Slack and attending Meetups and Hackathons. More recently he is most commonly seen as a keynote speaker at conferences around the world or in meetings with top executives Fortune 500 companies. In many ways, Isbitski has been the most prominent and most frequent public face of Alexa—initially to the developer community and increasingly to business leaders. Prior to his role on the Alexa team, Isbitski was the chief evangelist for the Amazon App Store. That was preceded by six years as a technical evangelist at Microsoft and time as a technical manager for Johnson & Johnson. Isbitski was also the host of the popular Alexa Dev Chat Podcast which was active between 2016-18 and has his own loyal following over nearly 18,000 voice industry professionals on Twitter.
WHY SHE MADE THE LIST // In 2018, LaCharite moved to Microsoft Cognitive Services after six years at Amazon. Her time at Amazon included a role as the senior technical project manager on the machine learning team responsible for rolling out new languages for Alexa and time as a developer evangelist. LaCharite also has experience working at Pivotal, VMWare, and 11 years at IBM. Today, LaCharite can be seen on social media almost daily broadcasting from points around the world where she is a frequent conference speaker. A software engineer at heart, she was also an early developer on Alexa and continues to maintain several popular skills.
WHY HE MADE THE LIST // Metrock is the CEO of Score Publishing, which is best known for its VoiceFirst Events conferences including The Alexa Conference, Project Voice, Digital Book World, Voice of the Car, Voice of Healthcare and several others. He also founded the podcast network VoiceFirst.FM and personally hosts the popular show “This Week in Voice.” Most recently, he founded VoiceFirst.community, an industry consortium focused on helping shape policy related to voice assistant use and consumer advocacy.
WHY HE MADE THE LIST // Erickson is Founder of Modev which serves a group of more than 25,000 software developers and industry experts across the voice, mobile, and open source software sectors. Modev creates community and content to serve these professionals and is best known for running VOICE Summit which is the world’s largest voice technology conference. Modev will also be hosting an exclusive voice event in collaboration with the Consumer Technology Association for CES 2020 which is generating a lot of buzz. Pete also has conducted dozens of video interviews with voice industry experts and hosts a new podcast called Inside VOICE which published over 40 podcasts in the first seven months of 2019. He is also a co-founder of VoiceFirst.community along with Bradley Metrock.
WHY HE MADE THE LIST // Max Amordeluso is the lead evangelist for Amazon Alexa in Europe. He leads the group that works with third party developers to ensure the growth and quality of Alexa skills in each of the European countries where Amazon makes Echo smart speakers available for sale. Max is one of the most visible Amazon executives in Europe with frequent keynote presentations at conferences large and small. He also meets in smaller settings with executives of leading global corporations and is influencing the way Alexa is perceived throughout the EU. During a career spanning over 15 years, Max has held several technical leadership roles, and, prior to his current position on the Alexa team, spent two years leading the Solutions Architects for Amazon Web Services in Europe.
WHY HE MADE THE LIST // Brian first started working with voice technology in the 1980’s and expanded his research efforts to include the development of a voice assistant named Alfred which occasionally makes appearances in Twitter videos. Most recently he announced a book project called “The Last Interface,” which will expand on product concepts that he calls the Intelligence Amplifier and Wisdom Keeper. The Intelligence Amplifier records your life in real-time and instantly enables you to retrieve any information from your life experiences as needed. The Wisdom Keeper will be your manifestation while you are not there and can represent you both in life and afterward. Roemmele has a Twitter following of 77,000 and is probably best known for his analysis of the intersection of voice and payment technologies along with the broader concept of voice commerce. He is also a Quora champion where he has provided nearly 1,400 answers, has a following of 23,000, and is listed as a top writer for the years 2013-18 with combined content views nearing 15 million.
WHY SHE MADE THE LIST // Palmiter Bajorek is the Founder of Women in Voice, an international nonprofit that celebrates and empowers women in voice technology. That role landed her a nomination for the “Executive of the Year” Alexa Award in 2019. She is a PhD candidate in the speech language technology at the University of Arizona. Prior to her PhD studies, Bajorek worked at Nuance where she was a speech technologist and conversation experience designer. Women in Voice was founded in August 2018 and currently has active chapters in the U.S., France, Germany, New Zealand, India, and the UK.
WHY SHE MADE THE LIST // Heidi Culbertson began her career in mobile technology solution sales for Sprint, USAT and Incode wireless. Her work in enterprise sales led her to focus on UX design for mobile followed by a move into consulting at AT&T. Culbertson was drawn full time into voice in order to help her mother who suffered from macular degeneration. Amazon Echo became a liberating technology that helped her mother maintain independence in her 90’s but the functionality had gaps when it came to elderly users. The realization that many elders faced similar challenges led to founding Marvee in early 2016 and launching the company’s first Alexa skill shortly thereafter. Culbertson is a widely sought-after speaker and expert on the application of voice technologies for use cases that are particularly impactful for senior citizens.
WHY HE MADE THE LIST // Dan Miller was working in voice before it was cool. As the founder and lead analyst as Opus Research, he conducts analyses, authors reports, provides consulting services, and oversees conferences specializing in intelligent assistant and intelligent authentication technologies. Although he evaluates voice and authentication technologies broadly, he is particularly well-known for his expertise of conversational technologies such as chatbots and voice for customer service. Miller founded Opus Research in 1986 after holding executive positions at Atari and Pacific Telesis (now AT&T). He is likely the first person to publish an article using the term “Conversational Commerce” in an article in 2013 that describes applications and services that improve person-to-person, person-to-machine, and machine-to-machine interactions.
WHY HE MADE THE LIST // Bill has over 25 years of software industry experience. He co-founded Orbita in 2015 to provide conversational platform technology and solutions to the healthcare industry. Orbita was among the first, if not the first company to focus on the intersection of voice assistants and healthcare for consumer engagement. As a result, Orbita executives are frequent speakers at voice and healthcare industry conferences and the company today supports many innovative healthcare applications using voice technologies. Those efforts are shaping the way many people approach voice solutions in healthcare today. Prior to launching Orbita, Bill was CEO & founder of Ektron – a digital experience management platform acquired by Accel-KKR in 2014.