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ScanSoft, Nuance To Merge

ScanSoft, Inc. and Nuance Communications, Inc. recently announced that the two companies have signed a definitive agreement whereby ScanSoft will acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Nuance, merging the two organizations into a single company. Under the terms of the agreement, ScanSoft will issue approximately 28 million shares of its common stock to Nuance shareholders, who will receive 0.77 shares of ScanSoft common stock for each share of Nuance common stock they own. Additionally, each Nuance shareholder will receive $2.20 of cash per share of Nuance common stock owned. The transaction is valued at approximately $221 million based on the closing price of ScanSoft common stock of $4.46 per share on May 6, 2005, or $122 million net of Nuance’s cash and equivalents of $98.7 million on March 31, 2005, which includes $11.1 million of restricted cash. Upon closing, ScanSoft expects to have approximately $80 million in cash and marketable securities. The transaction is expected to generate cost synergies between $25 million and $30 million per year through headcount reductions, office site consolidations and elimination of duplicate operating expenses. In ScanSoft’s fiscal year 2006, the company has stated that it expects combined revenue to exceed $315 million.

According to the companies, ScanSoft and Nuance combined automate more than 20 million contact center and directory assistance calls per day; bringing speech functionality to millions of people through mobile phones, automobiles, consumer electronics and games; and providing dictation solutions for more than 3,000 hospitals and more than one million consumers worldwide. The combination of ScanSoft and Nuance is expected to bring together one of the industry’s most comprehensive portfolios of speech applications, technologies and expertise.

ScanSoft and Nuance will each bring a set of speech applications and technologies to the combined company. These assets will theoretically allow the combined company to satisfy a wider set of customers’ speech needs from a single source. As speech technologies continue to converge, the combined company will be able to leverage a set of resources that spans the full breadth of speech capabilities — including network speech, embedded speech and dictation. The combined organization will bring together an array of resources — from 300 speech scientists and engineers to a patent portfolio comprising more than 250 patent families. With these assets, the combined company is positioned to handle complex implementations and potentially solve more difficult problems with speech technology. Both ScanSoft and Nuance have been active proponents of speech industry standards. Both companies are strong participants in the development of VoiceXML, including providing multiple editors, and both companies were founding drafters of the MRCP specification.

Paul Ricci will be the chairman and CEO of the merged company. As part of the transaction, two of Nuance’s board members, including Chuck Berger, president and CEO of Nuance, will join the ScanSoft board of directors. The transaction has been approved unanimously by both boards of directors and is subject to the approval of ScanSoft and Nuance shareholders and normal closing conditions that include regulatory approvals. ScanSoft expects the transaction to close in September 2005.
www.nuance.com and www.scansoft.com.


Empirix Launches New OneSight Telephony Monitors For Concerto, Intervoice And Nuance Environments

Empirix Inc., which helps organizations strengthen customer loyalty through assured Web and voice application performance, has announced new telephony monitors for its OneSight for Contact Centers proactive application management solution. The pre-built monitors for Concerto, Intervoice and Nuance environments were designed to help organizations more quickly and easily start monitoring their automated systems so they can identify and correct emerging problems before callers or agents are affected.

OneSight for Contact Centers allows customer service executives and contact center/IT operations staff to proactively pinpoint and address customer-related issues hidden within their technology infrastructures — issues that are often obscured in various “black boxes.” OneSight and its telephony monitors allow organizations to correlate the end-to-end caller experience with the health of each application component and its critical links to other telephony and data resources. The integrated management solution helps customers more quickly identify and isolate probable causes of common technology issues, including IVR outages; misrouted or dropped calls; slow screen pops; and poor speech recognition rates.

Empirix recently introduced monitors for Cisco ICM and Nortel MPS 1000 environments. With this announcement, it also offers monitors for the Concerto EnsemblePro complete contact center solution and FirstPoint Enterprise integrated ACD and CTI platform (which Concerto Software recently acquired from Rockwell Automation); Intervoice Omvia Voice Framework; and Nuance Voice Platform.

Nuance is one of several vendors that worked closely with Empirix to develop monitoring profiles. According to Leo Haasbroek, vice president of professional services for Nuance, proactive monitoring is a best practice for ensuring end-to-end performance of contact center technology environments. “Complex integrations can make finding and correcting problems challenging,” said Haasbroek. “End-to-end monitoring with solutions like Empirix OneSight can provide detail not only on individual components, but also at the integration points where many problems tend to originate.” www.empirix.com.

LumenVox’s Speech Tuner Supports Nuance 8.5

LumenVox, a provider of speech recognition technology, has announced the availability of Nuance 8.5 support with its Speech Tuner. The Tuner was updated to allow companies working with Nuance-based speech applications to perform various tuning and testing in-house. LumenVox’s Speech Tuner is a maintenance tool that allows end users, value-added resellers and platform providers to perform tuning and transcription as well as parameter, grammar and version-upgrade testing of any speech-driven application created on the Nuance 8.5 and LumenVox platforms. The Tuner allows companies to tune and test each interaction on the fly, providing interactive tuning and testing sessions. Using their own call logs, companies can get a detailed view of how the ASR is responding to callers. They can make changes to grammars and engine parameters, and immediately retest against historical data to determine if any change would help, hurt or make no difference to the application’s performance in the future.

With this GUI-based tool, companies developing speech applications on various ASR platforms can bring speech application tuning in-house and avoid professional service fees. Keith Herold, lead speech recognition developer at LumenVox, states, “The Speech Tuner’s support for Nuance is in high demand in the industry. The Speech Tuner is a crucial piece in the industry’s effort to promote speech applications and improve the caller’s experience, regardless of which ASR vendor is being deployed. Our next steps will be towards integrating other speech engines like ScanSoft, IBM, Loquendo, etc.”




Scientific study of the connection between language and society and culture. Understanding sociolinguistics allows the creators of speech applications to understand what information or mood certain vocabularies, accents, pronunciations and cadences communicate to the listener or reveal about the speaker.


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