Speech Technology Magazine


Tim Miller, Director of Product Planning, Siemens

Tim Miller, director of product planning at Siemens, explains, "The shift of focus from browser, ASR/TTS elements and fixed applications to a more innovation-centric market means that the industry will now rapidly move from being a niche segment to a mainstream segment."
Posted Jul 1, 2005
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Q. Tim, please tell us a little about Siemens and what it is doing in the speech industry right now.
A. Siemens is an industry leader in delivering the next generation of unified data, communication and telephony features that work seamlessly together to drive more efficient business results. This includes new tools to embrace the growing number of mobile, nomadic and remote workers. While workplace mobility is nothing new, what is emerging is how today's mobile workers can be equipped with complete access to information and tools - just as if they were working right next to headquarters-based peers. This is where collaboration processes, including speech tools, have the potential to make quantum leaps forward over the next decade. But only if both fixed and mobile network offerings can be completely unified to erase hurdles that continue to exist today (multiple devices with differing protocols, disconnected modes of communication and proprietary standards, to name a few). Siemens' award-winning LifeWorks@Com vision provides the building blocks for our ongoing development of secure, reliable and high-quality converged communication solutions that drive greater efficiencies, eliminate communication silos and raise the bar on user satisfaction.

Q. What is OpenScape and how does it use speech recognition technology?
A. The HiPath OpenScape solution is a presence-driven and permission-based communication and collaboration portal. Based on a collection of Web-based services, OpenScape's collection of out-of-the-box user interfaces can be easily connected to business applications. Designed as an IT application, the HiPath OpenScape solution fits into an enterprise's existing voice and data infrastructure and ties together phones, video, voice mail, e-mail, text messaging, directories, calendaring, instant messaging, document sharing and conferencing services. In short, the HiPath OpenScape portal makes it easier for workers - regardless of location or preferred communication device - to reach the people and information they need, when they need it.

In the realm of speech, the HiPath OpenScape solution provides a natural language telephony interface, providing the user with complete control of portal features via a single-number virtual assistant. With the virtual assistant a user can, for example, initiate a team meeting or find out information about meetings scheduled for the day. The virtual assistant accepts simple commands such as "Start East sales team meeting" or "What is my next meeting?" Actions invoked in the speech interface are also multimodal. For example, if a user starts a voice conference from a list of workgroups, the user can also add - with one mouse click - a Web conferencing session to a team meeting. With a VoiceXML-based and SALT-based toolkit, the OpenScape solution also supports customized virtual assistant applications.

Q. What is Siemens' go-to-market strategy for 2005?
A. Siemens will continue to remain a leader in the unified communication market, as noted by several leading analyst firms. We have already secured a number of working relationships with leading speech and IT organizations and we will continue to announce new alliances as enterprises embrace presence-enhanced collaboration environments.

Q. Where do you see the market heading in the future - toward a platform environment or an application environment? Why?
A. It is probably more appropriate to think of this as an innovation market rather than a platform or a software market. The recent supplier consolidation and the market inflection point for voice-browsing solutions means that platform and applications aren't in conflict with each other. New ideas for delivering speech applications in the unified communications and eCRM space are what will drive the buy decision for customers. For example, we are watching the self-service market very closely. Ideas such as tele-commerce and tele-voting could be big winners.

Q. Who are Siemens' partners and have these partnerships led to any customer wins?
A. Our partnerships include independent software developers as well as larger players such as Microsoft Corporation. We have great confidence in our partners to do what they do best so we can do what we do best - providing unified communication tools. This approach has resulted in our ability to build a solid momentum of reference customers in the HiPath OpenScape segment and it has given us the confidence to expand our speech actions to other market segments.

Q. Do you see the partnership between IBM and Cisco as an opportunity or competition for Siemens?
A. It remains to be seen. Right now, this market is much bigger than the number of viable suppliers. For now, our focus remains on meeting customer demands with an open, standards-based set of solutions that are highly flexible to adapt to best-in-class breakthroughs.

Q. What impact do you see the merger of ScanSoft and Nuance having on the market and technology?
A. I really think that this consolidation will improve quality, but it will also have an impact on market prices. Before the consolidation, there was always a second source.

Q. Do you have any additional comments or thoughts to leave us with?
A. There is an unending market for speech technology. The human dynamics of speech are critical for mobility and usability. The shift of focus from browser, ASR/TTS elements and fixed applications to a more innovation-centric market means that the industry will now rapidly move from being a niche segment to a mainstream segment.

Tim Miller is director of product planning for applications. In this role, he is responsible for the conversion of market requirements into product architecture. He has held this position since 2001 and is based in Boca Raton, Fla.

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