Innovation, a Standard Practice

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What’s better—a lower cost, but limited, solution or a more expensive and innovative one? The oversimplified answer that transcends most industries is “it depends.” It depends on the needs and the budget of the organization that is commissioning the work. The speech technology industry is no different. 

Answering this question in a more detailed fashion is what inspired this month’s double-feature package, which begins with “The Great Debate” (page 14), by Editorial Assistant Adam Boretz. When it comes to building a speech solution, standards-based VoiceXML applications simplify the building process, saving time for developers and money for the company implementing the solution. 

According to the VoiceXML Forum’s Web site, “VoiceXML simplifies speech application development by permitting developers to use familiar Web infrastructure, tools, and techniques. VoiceXML also enables distributed application design by separating each application’s user interaction layer from its service logic. Most developers find VoiceXML application development at least three times faster than development in traditional interactive voice response environments.” 

So, on the surface, it makes sense for an organization to use VoiceXML standards. Not so fast. Unfortunately, the rigidity of standards tends to inhibit innovation—so much so that many developers ignore them. One source in the feature states, “Generally, user interface standards have failed because people keep thinking of new, creative ideas that are better than what’s in the standard. People sort of abandon the standard and go for the new ideas.” 

Although there are limitations with the latest version of VoiceXML (version 2.1), improvements are on the horizon. How far into the horizon is dependent on the release date of version 3.0, which is still not clear. According to Eric Barkin’s story, “In the Future Everything Will Be Modular—Or at Least VoiceXML” (page 20), VoiceXML 3.0 will address “the complexity of current voice applications and the acknowledgment that the future of speech is going to rest with multimodal applications.” Read this story to find out the significance of these developments.

In a perfect world, organizations would be able to choose between a lower cost or a more innovative speech solution, or a combination of the two. This ensures there’s something for every company and that innovation will continue to benefit the industry, the organizations that use the technology, and end users. Also, as evidenced by the coming of VoiceXML 3.0, having these deployment options enables today’s innovation to become tomorrow’s standard. 


Mark your calendars: Information Today, Inc. (producers of SpeechTEK), is hosting its first SpeechTEK Europe conference in London from May 26–27, 2010. This event—chaired by Jim Larson, who is also the conference co-chair of SpeechTEK in the United States—will offer attendees conference sessions, keynotes, case studies, and an opportunity to network and share best practices with industry professionals. Visit www.SpeechTEK.com/Europe for more information. 

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