Speech Technology Magazine

 

Eric Doggett, CEO, Glenayre

Eric Doggett is the CEO of Glenayre. In a Q&A with the editors of NewsBlast, Eric gives us his thoughts on speech technology and its place in the service provider arena.
Posted Sep 1, 2002
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Q Tell us a little about Glenayre and where do you see yourself in a couple of years.
A Glenayre is in the business of simplifying communications for service providers and subscribers. Everything we do, from designing next-generation messaging solutions to providing customer care, focuses on addressing the needs and challenges of wireless and wireline network operators around the globe. I'm proud to say that more than 200 service providers in over 60 countries, supporting more than 50 million subscribers, rely on Glenayre for innovative, cost-effective messaging applications. Today, Glenayre offers our Versera™ solutions portfolio which consists of enhanced services, unified communications, voice services and professional services suites. We offer these solutions as modular applications that can either be deployed on their own, or mixed and matched to create a customizable Personal Communications Portal: a single 'home base' where subscribers can manage all their voice, fax and e-mail messages, as well as selected Internet content. Like other communications visionaries, Glenayre believes in a future in which voice and data can be seamlessly managed. We believe in personalization and customization. And we believe in working with others to develop standards so that communications solutions are as interoperable as possible. We plan to continue doing what we do best—working with service providers to develop services and applications subscribers want, and delivering these solutions at the right time and the right price. Q What is Glenayre doing to enhance speech technology within the service provider marketplace?
A Glenayre, during the last several years, has worked diligently to introduce voice-driven services to the service provider marketplace. First, we made our messaging platforms as 'voice-friendly' as possible. We built a comprehensive VXML-based (the forerunner to VoiceXML) messaging platform, and then upgraded our solutions to support the VoiceXML standard once it became available. Then we crafted relationships with best-in-class automatic speech recognition (ASR) and text-to-speech (TTS) vendors in tandem with developing our Versera Voice Services suite. We did this to create one of the most intuitive user interfaces on the market, to offer one of the most extensive speech libraries available and to allow our customers to choose the solution most appropriate for their needs. We also made sure our Versera Voice Services suite offers bite-sized speech-driven solutions that are easy for service providers to install and intuitive for subscribers to use. And we are actively involved with industry organizations that afford us the opportunity to influence how voice services are brought to the communications market. Q Why should service providers and carriers deploy speech solutions?
A Quite simply, voice is the easiest and most instinctive way we communicate, and the ability for people to access information just by talking can provide enormous benefits to both service providers and their customers:

  • Speaking is natural, so the learning curve to use voice commands is much lower than almost any other interface.
  • The ability to talk to an application promotes speed, convenience, flexibility and mobility so people can stay in touch or receive their information more quickly—even on-the-fly.
  • Speech technology reduces communications barriers, allowing users to access and manage data messages (like e-mail or Internet content) by using voice commands or having the information read to them.
  • With a good network in place, service providers can rapidly deploy speech applications, reducing both time-to-market and capital expenditures.
While its true that speech recognition has been around for years, new processing technology, higher quality of service, the rise of wireless subscribers and hands-free legislation are all critical market drivers that have renewed interested in voice services. And apart from price, voice services are one of the few ways network operators can quickly differentiate themselves. Some are targeting the youth market while others are building case studies to show enterprise customers how they can improve efficiency and reduce costs. These elements, combined with multimedia and multimodal technologies represent market drivers that simply make it critical for service providers to understand how to market and deploy voice services for their subscribers. Q Please discuss a couple of examples of deployments that have included speech technology. Explain why the service provider was interested in speech and the results from the deployments.
A Glenayre's first deployment of speech-enabled services was in 1997, when we worked with a customer who was looking for increased airtime and service differentiation. We helped them deploy voice dialing and voice access to a personal address book. Later, this service provider merged with a Tier One provider, and still offers our voice services today. During the last six months we have seen an encouragingly large uptake of service providers requesting information and running market trials for a variety of voice services. Carriers are looking for quick, cost-effective services and applications that will help them open new revenue streams while protecting their capital investments. Voice services are attractive because service providers need to differentiate themselves and offer subscribers value-added services that don't require large quantities of time or capital outlay. Q Where do you see the carrier business for speech technology going over the next three years? Please provide your thoughts in terms of size and services.
A Voice services are poised for tremendous uptake in the service provider arena, growing steadily over the course of the next three years. At first, services will be introduced slowly, with the most intuitive applications—like Voice Activated Dialing (VAD)—offered first. Service providers will most likely provide voice navigation for messages next, so that subscribers will become used to managing, playing and responding to their voice, fax and e-mail messages with simple voice commands like "play," "save" and "delete." Since voice-powered e-mail management will require integration of enterprise e-mail platforms such as Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes and consumer accounts like America Online and Microsoft's MSN, carriers may introduce voice navigation in two stages: first, speech commands for voice mail and fax messages, and then voice-powered access and management of e-mail, once the necessary integration is complete. In the next two or three years, VoiceXML applications will multiply, bringing carriers a wide variety of voice-driven applications. Some likely possibilities include speech-powered access to driving directions, auctions and ticket and book purchases. As TTS and ASR technologies improve, the complexity of applications will be increased. The next three years will be a truly exciting time period for the development of voice services, and their overall role in how we communicate. Q Have you or your customers completed any surveys of consumers who have utilized a speech application and could you please provide us with the results of the research?
A There is a tremendous amount of research available depicting the demographics of users, their interaction with speech applications and the psychology of voice services in general. As part of our user interface development process, Glenayre harvests salient research information, works with service providers to integrate their requirements in the interface and monitors success in the field. We haven't publicly released our findings in the form of a report, but regularly incorporate our findings to refine our voice services portfolio. Q What are your thoughts on two markup languages, VoiceXML and SALT? What does the evolution of these two standards mean to your customers.
A Both VoiceXML and SALT are critical for the future of voice-powered services because they supply standards to which companies adhere. Without these standards, mass adaptation of these services just wouldn't exist—interoperability issues would simply be too large and too complex. Glenayre is fully committed to open development, which is why we are active members of the VoiceXML and SALT Forums. Q What can speech developers do to enhance the acceptance of speech technologies with service providers?
A Usability, usability, usability. For speech technologies to saturate the market they must be intuitive and easy to use. Speech developers focusing on improving recognition and expanding their language libraries will greatly assist users' desire to fully leverage voice services. Q Why is Versera Voice Services Suite different from other platforms and why should service providers utilize this product?
A Few messaging vendors understand service providers' needs better than Glenayre. We have spent decades working with carriers, so that our solutions, support and pricing best position them to achieve their business goals. The platform and applications comprising our Versera Voice Services Suite were designed with the same premise in mind, and drove the decision to offer a variety of distinctive features. Versera Dynamic Architecture
-It's modular. Service providers can easily deploy Versera Voice Services Suite into their existing networks, providing a rapid time-to-market advantage with a small capital investment. Voice services can be deployed as a stand-alone solution, or combined with other next-generation messaging suites to further differentiate network operators' services. -It's robust. The Versera Voice Services Suite is built on the Versera Dynamic Architecture, enabling it to operate in both IP and circuit-switched telephony networks. Our standards-based approach uses both VoiceXML and Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) specifications. Versera Voice Services Applications
-We have a 'best-in-class' vendor-agnostic approach. Each speech technology vendor we work with has an extensive, global speech library and our customers can choose the solution that is right for them, -It has an intuitive user interface. -It supports a variety of compelling voice services. Service providers can quickly differentiate themselves by deploying any number of voice services, including Dial-By-Voice, voice navigation of voice, fax and e-mail messages, arranging conference calls, managing a personal address book and accessing customizable Internet content such as stock quotes and flight arrival times. Q Who are your partners and why did you choose these companies?
A Glenayre works with best-in-class speech technology vendors, including Nuance, Philips, ScanSoft and SpeechWorks. We established relationships with these companies because of their global presence, extensive speech libraries and commitment to supporting the evolution of voice services.

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