Lead or Be Led

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Even though the responsibility to protect its customers' identities and personal information falls on an organization, asking executives to invest more in security is a tall order. This requires that they be more proactive at a time when they're inclined to be more reactive. Unfortunately, many business leaders&—due to competitive pressures, smaller budgets, and fewer resources—think more reactively because they are so focused on immediate, not long-term, opportunities and threats.

This behavior encourages leaders to invest only in areas they are forced to address, or areas that promise an immediate return. Essentially, they are not leading; they are reacting. What they'll find, though, is that if they become more proactive now it will save them much-needed time and money later and give them more control of their company's destiny.

Stephen Covey, in his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, encourages readers to become more proactive and less reactive. "Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values—carefully thought about, selected, and internalized values.

"Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response."

An example of proactive reasoning is investing in security solutions that protect customers' private data. Fortunately, the lower-cost software-as-a-service model is making voice biometrics technology less expensive than before. Organizations no longer have to spend $500,000 on a voice security implementation, according to the feature story "Can Voice Biometrics Hack Computer Security?" by News Editor Leonard Klie. Also, the speech verification process isn't overly cumbersome for customers, and, once they know how it works, it's actually quite convenient. Already, 6 million people have created voiceprints for security purposes and, according to one industry analyst, that number is expected to climb to 30 million by 2015.

Clearly, the momentum for voice security is building. When you're ready to implement a speech authentication solution, read the feature story "Tips for a Successful Voice Biometrics Deployment." It addresses some essential considerations, such as building a team of project stakeholders, educating customers, and ensuring a convenient authentication process.

Not to get too far afield from my point about the importance of proactive reasoning, our feature story "Voice User Interface Designers Learn to Cope with Rejection" further proves this. The last thing a VUI designer needs is to have a project completely derailed because an ill-informed manager jumps in at the last minute and demands an irrelevant or a harmful design change. This can be avoided by adhering to one of the tips in this article—proactive communication.

Being proactive enables business leaders and project managers to pick the best path and enables their organizations to be better prepared for opportunities and obstacles along the way. That's why being proactive is one of the hallmarks of a good leader and a highly effective person.

David Myron is editorial director of Speech Technology magazine. He can be reached at dmyron@infotoday.com.

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