Publisher's Outlook

What's New in Speech Technology

By Rich Tehrani, CEO, Technology Marketing Corporation  |  October 01, 2011


This article originally appeared in the Oct. 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

At the recent SpeechTek 2011 conference in New York I gained some great insight into the state of speech technology.

For example, Jeff Schlueter of Nexidia (News - Alert) told me his company’s speech analytics solutions have been in greater demand in this current economy as the desire to control costs has led to increased adoption of speech analytics. The company has released version 9.0 of its Enterprise Speech Intelligence product suite which cuts the TCO in half and allowing for customers to handle even larger amounts of data.

I also spoke with Novauris (News - Alert), a newcomer to the speech technology space. This outfit already has inked some deals with tier one OEMs and carriers. The company said its performance is best in class relative to accessing very large sets of databases such as addresses, names of people, product catalogues, IPTV and electronic programming guides, local search and directory assistance. The company works with Angel and SpeechCycle in the call center space as well – doing name and address recognition in the cloud and passing back the data via XML in real-time.

And Wavelink (News - Alert) Corp.’s Jay Cichosz, tells me his company has been enjoying success in the industrial market, where its terminal emulation solutions help workers more efficiently manage packing and shipping logistics via handheld devices. By speech enabling these apps, his customers have seen productivity gains as floor workers no longer have to glance at a watch or PDA to see what they need to do next – they can now just listen and respond with voice as well.

In a conversation with Anthony Leaper and Volker Hildebrand of SAP, they told me how the company sells their solutions in bite-sized chunks and also makes rapid-deployment solutions available for delivery in six to eight weeks. Sales, service and marketing are just some of the areas where such packages are available.

One of the latest SAP announcements is Sales onDemand – a feed-based system that brings structured and unstructured data together in a collaborative, Facebook-like way. Similar to Salesforce Chatter or Cisco Quad, the company is targeting very large companies and will also release Service onDemand. These two products will work together, allowing salespeople to see a feed of customer late payments or service requests. Leaper believes SAP has an advantage over Salesforce because his system is more integrated, allowing all objects in the CRM database to be seen, while he sees Chatter as a bolt-on solution.

The challenge for SAP is it is late to the game, but they may see these new releases as a way to protect and cross-sell to its installed base, and speed-to-market has to be balanced with interoperability across the company’s ever-expanding software suite.

The Odd Couple was a favorite TV show of mine as a kid featuring a very Messy Oscar Madison who was roommates with a very neat Felix Unger. I couldn’t help thinking about these two when I met with Alok Kulkarni (News - Alert) of Cyara Solutions and his customer Sam Jackel from Westpac, Australia’s largest bank with 6-7 million customers.

Cyara provides next-generation premises and cloud-based solutions for simulating, testing and monitoring IVRs, voice biometrics, outbound dialers, voice callback and other contact center systems and applications. What it did for the bank was to help them take disparate solutions handling IVR, speech, complex routing algorithms, Websphere, java apps and more and integrate them more efficiently to improve dramatically customer satisfaction.

A three-year project resulted in customers being able to get to the information they want via phone in only 14 seconds. This is down from 90 seconds – a significant improvement. To get an idea of what challenges the company had, every time there was a customer interaction, messaging needed to traverse a number of different firewall hops and pipes between Telstra (News - Alert), IBM and Westpac networks causing potential packet loss, latency and jitter.

The bank is thrilled and views Cyara as a key plank in its strategy around quality and efficiency related to  end-to-end regression, systems integration, functional, stress, performance and load testing, and real-time monitoring of the customer experience in the production environment. You generally don’t get such a large company to give such a glowing testimonial to a relatively new company, so I thought it worth sharing.

Rich Tehrani is CEO of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world’s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi