Blend Art with Science
In the early stages of a new technology market, often the technology, while promising, limits creativity. There's only so much you can do with technology that isn't technologically robust enough, is too costly to customize, or doesn't integrate well with legacy systems. But the speech technology industry is at a point where the science of the technology is sound enough to take the market to the next level. This is not to say that the industry is done innovating from a technological standpoint, but it does mean that there is enough room for the art of speech technology to nurture and grow.
Call it Phase II, The Next Step, or Speech 2.0 (as Moshe Yudkowsky writes in his column, "Boring Is OK, but Exciting Is Better"); but no matter what you call it, one thing remains the same—buyers and builders of speech technology should pay more attention to the art of speech technology. In his column, Yudkowsky suggests that Yahoo!, MySpace, and Digg.com are successful because they disaggregate the ownership and the authority of their content, enabling users to take more control. This fosters creativity, individualism, and more meaningful personal experiences. He provides some good ideas on how speech applications can be designed to do the same.
There is also room for creative uses of speech technology at the enterprise level. In the roundtable discussion, "Audio Search and Mining: Unstructured Data and its Business Value," Associate Editor Stephanie Staton asked the following question: "What happened in the last three to five years to further the market's growth and acceptance?" One industry pundit replied, "What has happened is the expanding of the scope of the business value that speech analytics can bring. The initial business value was more on the agent quality monitoring type of application. In the last few years, we have seen an expansion to other business benefits, more specifically, to the business intelligence side. Basically, companies were able to get insight about different business processes that are not necessarily about the agent, but about the customer: what the customers' issues are, why they are calling, how the company can make them more happy, how the company can sell to them more effectively, and so forth. The expansion of the business value is fueling the growth of this market."
There are several other examples in this issue where organizations successfully combine the art and science of speech technology to get desired results, such as our cover story by Senior Editor Leonard Klie, "The Art and Science of War," and his other feature story, "Not Everyone Has a Phone Voice." May these examples inspire those in the industry to don their creative caps and help push the industry to the next level.