Analyzing the Verticals

A few years ago it would have been hard to imagine a need for a Vertical Markets Guide for the speech technology industry. But today many companies are deploying creative applications focusing on specific vertical markets using speech technologies and this trend is becoming a bigger factor in how speech products are marketed. As noted in the introduction to Speech Technology magazine's  first Vertical Markets Guide, more solutions mean more choices and more opportunities for organizations to find creative uses for speech solutions.

For the first time ever, STM's Vertical Markets Guide matches 12 industry segments with the companies providing products and services specific to each. We are making a determined effort to satisfy the demand from buyers for a faster and easier way to help them find the right solution for their organization.

We hope it becomes a useful tool for sorting through the growing number of options available for implementing speech. In addition to the company and product listings available in the Vertical Markets Guide, industry analyst Nancy Jamison presents a very thorough examination of the opportunities and challenges companies face when deploying speech in specific verticals like healthcare, finance, telecommunications, utilities, media, government and more. (Vertical Market Application Showdown in Speech, page 32)  

In Voice Applications, Evolving to Meet Commercial Needs (page 50) Datamonitor's Peter Ryan also touches on opportunities in verticals. Peter gives his projections for the future of voice applications and by letting you have a peek into his crystal ball at what lies ahead for speech.  

One of the biggest challenges facing companies is the impact of the growing Hispanic/Latino population in the United States. The very interesting and unique challenges companies face trying to address this market are examined in depth by Sondra Ahlén, Lizanne Kaiser and Eduardo Olvera in this month's cover story beginning on page 10.  

Certainly a growing area of speech deployments involves automating directory assistance request. Caroline Henton examines the issues involved in providing spoken directory assistance on page 46. A testament to the pick up in this area is ScanSoft's recent acquisition of Telelogue.  

There has been much debate over the impact of standards on innovation and end users. A leading independent analyst, Donna Fluss, analyzes the influence of standards on innovation and lowering the TOC of speech applications beginning on page 40 in Technical Standards Facilitate Innovation. Also included is an analysis of recent recommendations from the World Wide Web Consortium.  

Speaking of standards, we profile Jane Thalen, who was one of the first developers to achieve VoiceXML certification. Jane contributes her thoughts on the importance of standards certification in this month's QandA on page 8. Jane works as a developer for Nortel Networks and tells us why she thinks the effort to achieve certification is a valuable resource in deploying speech applications.  

An exciting new regular feature is being introduced with this issue:  The first "interactive" column. Edwin Margulies' "Usability Scorecard" on page 16, is going to take information provided by readers for future reports in STM on the usability of automation in the contact center. Many of you know Ed and his over 20 years of contributions to improving users' experiences with automation. We feel very fortunate to have Ed provide his expertise for readers of both STM and the STM weekly Newsblast information source.  

As you are reading this issue of Speech Technology Magazine, the annual SpeechTEK Conference and Exposition is only a few weeks away. As the industry grows, so does the scope of information that SpeechTEK covers every year. As in the Vertical Markets Guide, industry growth is also reflected in the demand for more sessions at SpeechTEK focusing on specific industries. Judith Markowitz and Nancy Jamison have designed extensive tracks specifically for decision makers in health care, utilities, insurance, financial services and the public sector. Mark Plakias and Dan Miller will drive the content for the VOX conference that will be incorporated into SpeechTEK. The VOX program examines the many issues impacting the telecommunications industry. We're excited to bring to you representatives of each sector who will share their first-hand experiences deploying speech.  

This will be SpeechTEK's 10th year and we're working hard to provide you with an event that delivers on your high expectations. The event keeps growing so please visit www.speechtek.com to discover the latest information. I look forward to seeing you in New York .

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