A Lot is Happening

Since we last visited, Bill Gates keynoted AVIOS/SpeechTEK Spring; Xerox sold its ScanSoft stake for $80 million; Fluency, Voxify and Cepstral received additional equity investments; Wizzard completed its acquisition of MedivoxRx; Babel and Elan announced the name of their new company—Acapela; and more than 60 new product and partnership announcements have been made.

Not to mention the fact that I got to hear a special keynote presentation at Genesys' GForce Users Group meeting by F.W. deKlerk, former president of South Africa. It was very special listening to someone who has impacted the history of his country and this world as much as President deKlerk. He discussed the rapid changes that are occurring in the world today and the need for countries to cooperate in making sure that those changes are positive.

Speaking of impact, speech technologies are increasingly impacting organizations of all kinds and Nancy Jamison reviews a number of deployments in this issue of Speech Technology Magazine. Her review of the travel industry's endeavors in speech technology begins on page 18.

In keeping with the vertical markets theme, Nancy and STM technology editor Judith Markowitz will lead a series of Industry Workshops at SpeechTEK 2004. They have researched five industries and will highlight best-of-breed deployments and applications within those markets during these specialized tracks. 

On page 26, Bill Scholz completes his analysis of best practices in deploying a speech solution. If you missed the first part of this series please go to http://www.speechtechmag.com/.

Speaking of a lot going on, it seems that packaged applications is an area that is getting a lot of attention recently. Judith Markowitz "unwraps" packaged applications on page 14 with her story reviewing what it means for an application to be "packaged". She provides benchmarks for defining a speech application as either custom or packaged.

Daniel Enthoven details the benefits of applying speech technologies to the carrier community beginning on page 42. He reviews the areas that are seeing the most success in deploying speech technology.

Without question one of the topics that always generates a lot of interest at the SpeechTEK events are sessions on natural language. Deborah Dahl, chair of the W3C Multimodal Interactions Working Group, provides a reality check on the state of natural language beginning on page 34. Deborah understands this topic as well as anyone and provides realistic pathways to what is available for use today. Walter Rolandi weighs in on page 37 with his views on natural language. For those of you who know him and regularly read Walter's column, you will enjoy his reactions to the term "natural language". This is a really good read that should not be missed. Two of my favorite features this edition involve customers. Belinda Banks, who has successfully deployed speech technologies for Bell Canada, provides her thoughts on what it takes to deploy speech technologies. Last year Belinda was one of the winners of the Most Innovative Solutions Awards from STM. Simply put, I think Belinda is fantastic and I encourage everyone to read her interview that begins on page 12.

We begin this edition with the magazine's Most Innovative Solutions Awards featuring seven companies who are "raising the bar" by utilizing speech technologies. They were chosen from a field of 30 applicants by a group of the magazine's regular columnists, contributors and editorial staff. While I wish we could have extended the award to all the submissions, these were the seven deemed most innovative. We review what we think it takes to be "most innovative" and take a look at each of these winners beginning on page 8.

I want to take a few minutes to recognize two individuals who have contributed mightily to the advancement of speech technologies who are leaving the industry at the same time. W.S. 'Ozzie' Osborne and Stuart Patterson have competed for years while leading IBM Speech and SpeechWorks through some very difficult economic times. Their leadership will be missed and I want to say thank you to both men for their contributions to this industry and their willingness to assist me in all of our endeavors.  Whatever is in store for them I am sure will make for a better world and for that we are grateful.   

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