Speech Readies for Multimodal and Security Environments
There's no questioning the popularity of smartphones. Already, more than 1 billion smartphones have been sold worldwide, according to published reports. As our comfort levels with mobile devices turn into dependence, we will increasingly rely on them to accomplish more sophisticated tasks. This presents an intriguing opportunity for voice user interface designers.
For example, consumers will want to use their mobile devices to quickly and easily shop online, check bank statements, pay bills, and book flights and hotels. However, while the small form factor of smartphones is ideal for portability, the small screen sizes limit what graphical user interface designers can do.
As speech technology becomes more integrated into mobile devices, it makes sense to marry the two user interfaces to create more user-friendly interactions. That's why we offer the cover story, "Can VUI and GUI Survive an Interface Marriage?" by Staff Writer Michele Masterson. The story recognizes the challenges of merging the two disciplines and offers some tips on how to overcome them.
It also states that some vendors—such as Angel.com (acquired by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories), AT&T, OpenStream, and Nuance—have already created multimodal applications that leverage voice user interface and graphical user interface designs. However, will the speech technology industry be able to keep up with consumer demand? The CRM market, by comparison, is a larger industry (with about $20 billion in annual sales) and it's struggling to meet mobile device demand with truly mobile CRM solutions.
This is especially true when it comes to integrating speech technology with mobile CRM systems. For example, salespeople tend to have a gift for gab—it's almost a prerequisite for the job. And, if given the opportunity, I'm willing to bet that most would rather enter customer account information and updates into their mobile device on the road than in their office. If they could easily do this on their mobile device, they could spend more time in front of prospects and customers. So why not take advantage of this preference and make it an input method for a mobile CRM system? A few CRM vendors are doing this, but with the overwhelming popularity of smartphones, especially among mobile sales professionals, this option should be much more available than it is today.
Another area that remains underserved by speech technology is security. Fraud is increasing, according to the feature story "Voice Biometrics Can Shut the Doors on Call Center Fraud," by News Editor Leonard Klie, which was first published in CRM magazine. The feature states, "In 2012, identity fraud affected 12.6 million Americans—an increase of more than 1 million people over 2011—and fraudsters stole more than $21 billion, the highest amount since 2009." One industry analyst in the article estimates that only about 20 percent of the world's call centers currently use voice biometrics to verify the identity of callers. This means the majority of contact centers rely on more cumbersome identification and verification methods, including passwords, personal identification numbers, or security questions. Clearly, there's a significant, and growing, opportunity for voice biometrics in the contact center.
To further the industry's efforts, perhaps we should cover these issues, among others, at our SpeechTEK conference in August. If you have any presentation ideas that would appeal to VUI and GUI designers, or security experts, feel free to email them to me.