Business conditions of the past three years have forced all parties to examine the delivery process of technology products and services including speech solutions. The traditional model of solution delivery has its advantages and disadvantages from a technology perspective and has been a very successful business model for many vendors in the past. However many times the go-to-market strategy of solution providers leaves much to be desired with end customers having to handle multiple legal contracts, no single point of ownership and a support and operational environment that they don't always understand. What gets lost in this process is the real benefits that speech offers organizations and their customers and employees. We all realize that organizations' needs and goals are different. What is not different is their desire to develop solutions that work, are easy to deploy, cost effective and a way to solve problems easily and quickly. In 2004 I hope we as a community continue working toward a business model for a distributed technology that lowers the barriers to entry of speech technologies for which we all know clear and tangible benefits exist. In this the January/February 2004 edition of STM, Dr. Judy Spitz of Verizon discusses her success in quickly and successfully deploying a speech solution that is working. Dr. Spitz describes a recent deployment for Verizon that accomplished what I stated above. Vendors delivered a solution that was client friendly and deployed in a timely manner. We also highlight two healthcare deployments, one for the Caritas Christi Health System in Boston and the other for North Bronx Healthcare Network. Dr. Caroline Henton addresses the linguistic challenge to place pharmaceutical orders that has potential lethal consequences. She offers a remedy to this very serious issue that needs immediate attention if speech providers are to grow their market share in this lucrative market. Certainly with healthcare growing to consume over 13 percent of the US GNP, solution providers should continue to work with healthcare organizations to provide cost effective options to their myriad of demands. We hear from a number of organizations that understand while it is common practice for companies within market segments to develop a language all of their own they often need these phrases and concepts translated. We asked Dr. Michael Cohen of Nuance to provide a summary of key words and phrases to assist customers in their understanding of speech. Speaking of Dr. Cohen I want to segue and thank him and Michael Phillips of ScanSoft. When I started in this business both of them were very helpful in educating me in the technical nuances of speech. They are both gentlemen of the highest order and were instrumental in founding two of the leading companies in this market space, Nuance and SpeechWorks, now ScanSoft. They have remarkably similar characteristics and believe very strongly in the promise speech provides. Both of these gentlemen receive outstanding reviews from attendees of our conferences when they speak. They are both so patient with everyone they encounter and will always take as much time as you desire to assist you with your questions. They are both routinely voted as industry leaders in our surveys and have been instrumental in the many advances of the technology. We all owe them debt of gratitude for their work. We review Mike Cohen's new book and suggest that anyone interested in learning more about Voice User Interfaces go and buy it. Mike works with James Giangola and Dr. Jennifer Balogh to author this work. We will be adding new features to www.speechtechmag.com to better serve you in 2004. The new site will 'go live' February 15 and offer you an industry jobs section, an 'ask the experts' free service, and a new look to make navigation easier for you. Additionally we will be introducing a free service for customers to assist you in finding the best vendor for your project. This service will allow you to describe your project or problem and immediately request information from the various speech solution providers. Please let me know what you think of the new site. We look forward to serving you in 2004 and welcome your comments and suggestions for ways to better this industry.
PS We wish to welcome John Kirst of TuVox to the Speech Technology Magazine Editorial Advisory Board. I've known John for three years and value his advice and counsel and am glad he has agreed to serve.
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