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There’s no doubt that 2009 will be a challenging year for many industries, including ours. That’s why we’re kicking off our first issue of the year with “Implementation Strategies 2009” (page 15). This 16-page feature package offers tips on assessing the need for speech technology, planning a speech project, delivering successful speech deployments, and maintaining your investments. On page 30, we close the feature package with the results of our first SpeechTEK Lab, which evaluates gaming technology, application development tools, and multimodal devices.  

If you find these reviews helpful, feel free to join our SpeechTEK Lab judges at the SpeechTEK 2009 conference in New York (August 24-26) when they evaluate speaker identification and verification tools, speech synthesis technologies, and mobile devices. For more SpeechTEK conference information or to receive conference updates, discounts, and program details, visit www.SpeechTEK.com. SpeechTEK 2009 will be co-located with CRM magazine’s CRM Evolution 2009 conference. Mark your calendars because you won’t want to miss these co-located events.

With the new year comes a new face to Speech Technology magazine. I’m happy to introduce our newest editorial assistant, Eric Barkin, who recently completed his coursework for a master of fine arts degree from Columbia University’s Writing Division. In addition to writing and editing, he has experience as a translator, filmmaker, and visual artist. His first feature, “2009: What the New Year Will Bring” (page 16), provides insight into which industries are currently investing in speech technology. Feel free to contact Eric at ebarkin@infotoday.com.


You may notice a new ad in this issue for Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering (page 5). This ad represents the winner of a Speech Technology magazine challenge presented in the column “Your Call Automation Sucks” (Speech Technology, November/December 2007), in which I asked speech technology experts to call our phone number and offer suggestions to help us fix the really bad IVR we had at the time. 

Why didn’t we just quietly fix this problem ourselves? The Speech Technology editorial staff consists of journalists, not speech tech experts. Plus, we have access to the best speech technology minds in the industry, so why not seek their guidance? We did, and throughout the first half of 2008, we received a slew of great suggestions. Thanks to everyone who emailed their ideas—it made the exercise fun and educational. 

Some of the advice ranged from simply rewriting our touchtone IVR script—which we subsequently did—to setting up an elaborate speech-enabled IVR. The best suggestion for our needs came from Juan Gilbert, a T-SYS distinguished professor in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department at Auburn University. Juan’s entry won because it suggested turning our touchtone IVR into a speech-enabled IVR and included very clear and brief voice prompts that work well for us. Congratulations, Juan! 

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