John Campbell is an Alexa Champion helping shape the ambient experiences of the future

Arun Krishnan Jul 27, 2023
Alexa Skills

John Campbell is the managing director & founder at Rabbit & Pork, the voice experience arm of the UK based network of agencies, TIPi Group. Using a data led approach tied with collaborative workshops Pork and Rabbit helps brands understand the voice landscape and shape the next generation of ambient experiences.

Campbell is also an Alexa Champion: a recognition program designed to honor the most engaged developers and contributors in the community. Through their passion and knowledge for Alexa, these individuals continue to educate and inspire other developers in the community – both online and offline. 

Campbell has developed and launched several Alexa Skills, presented at several voice events globally, spoken on the VUX, VoiceBot.AI podcasts, and authored multiple whitepapers. Prior to working in the voice industry Campbell spent 13 years working in digital marketing focusing on SEO and working with clients such as Dyson, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, NatWest and Toyota.

Rabbit & Pork are now an Alexa Smart Properties solution provider deploying Alexa in hospitality and Senior Living locations. Most recently the team celebrated for the second time a prize in the Alexa Skills Challenge for a skill called Memories in the Aging & Engaging competition.

In this conversation, Campbell speaks about his background, some of the favorite experiences he had developed with Alexa, and his vision for the future of ambient computing. 

Tell us about your background.

Like many who work in computing sector I started early originally making a website about my favorite football team as a teenager.  I went on to study Computer Science at The University of Manchester which was great. However, it was a role that made me realize that I wasn’t the best coder ever. My first job was at a search marketing agency just outside of Manchester as an SEO Account Manager. I absolutely loved working in SEO and that pretty much all did for 12 years.

For the past eight years I’ve worked at the TIPi Group, first as the Head of the SEO team at ROAST, and now the manager director of Rabbit & Pork.

I moved over to voice from SEO, after clients started to ask us about how to optimize for voice search. At the time smart speakers were really new in the UK, and there was no existing guides for how you improve your voice search results. We bought a few smart speakers, and started to experiment with Alexa. We developed dedicated software to track the results from the experiment, and released a white paper. The white paper was downloaded around 500 times in just the first month. Seeing the enthusiastic response, we decided to launch Rabbit & Pork as an agency dedicated to voice experience.

Following our research with voice search, we started to looking into other ways for brands to have conversations with customers with smart speakers. That led us to Alexa Skills, and we started to offer skill building to clients, alongside offering services to develop voice search reports and consultancy.

What are some of your favorite experiences you have developed with Alexa?

A couple stand out. The first Alexa Skill Challenge we entered we created a skill called Answer the previous question which was based on a famous TV sketch. For this skill, we had the entire company testing game ideas, testing our conversational scripts.  We got a shortlist prize for that entry, and since then, we’ve won a couple of finalist prizes.

Most recently, we’ve created an Alexa Skill for Harlequins a rugby team in London for their Alexa Smart Properties (ASP) installation. There are two skills we developed. The primary ASP skill allows guests to ask questions about the teams line ups, stats, fixtures and facilities in the stadium. The second skill is a smart home skill which allows the user to control the TV in the room.

As an Alexa Champion, can you speak to how being involved with a broader community has been helpful to you?

Working with Alexa has opened up several community opportunities over the years. From hosting events at our office, running workshops at industry events, and hosting the UK Voice Lunch meeting – all of these opportunities have come from developing with Alexa. What I’ve found is that in the community there is a willingness to help each other. People are always willing to offer feedback on what you’ve built, and provide clarity on what’s possible with Alexa. I've even had so many people reaching out to help with troubleshooting bugs.

What is your vision for the future of voice and ambient computing?

In the short term the possibilities with LLM technology are really interesting, from a point of being able to quickly being able to create content to be used in your Alexa Skill, but also allowing LLM to aid in the conversation flow for scenarios you’ve not accounted for already.  

Further on I’m really excited to see how voice and other smart hardware can help the senior community, be that at home or in a residential setting. I think we’ve only just touched upon the initial use cases, and with the digital transformation of health and social care program in the UK, we will see that ambient computing in this sector is going to be much more personalized and drive efficiencies in care.

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