Taking Measured Steps

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As journalists, part of our job is to cover what’s hot. Yet we’d be remiss if we didn’t cover some of the slower-moving, yet important, industry developments—some of which are highlighted in this month’s issue. 

While not critical to a successful speech technology deployment by today’s standards, there’s no doubt that a personal touch can improve customer sales and service calls. Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories is furthering these efforts with its intelligent Customer Front Door, which culls data from disparate company sources, leveraging caller intent plus content to create a more personalized customer experience. These personalization efforts, and others mentioned in the feature story “Remember Me?” (page 22), by Editorial Assistant Adam Boretz,  might not be experiencing rapid development, but they are important developments that will likely become critical to the success of future speech deployments. 

Another area that isn’t known for rapid development—OK, it’s excruciatingly slow—is the patent process. Patents play a very important part in any technology industry, serving to protect an organization’s intellectual property. However, the rewards of patent approval don’t come without big risks, according to the cover story, “The Quest for the Gold Foil Stamp” (page 16), by Editorial Assistant Eric Barkin. The patent space is rife with expensive processing fees, long approval times, and potentially crippling litigation. 

When it comes to litigation, patents can be “wielded like blunt trauma instruments to bleed or be bled of pint after pint of cash,” Eric writes. Never has this been more evident than in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period that he dubs “a kind of Wild West for the patent space.” Clearly, something needed to be done to stem the overwhelming amount of patent litigation. The government has taken some initial steps, which are working; however, the patent process is still confusing because the rules governing patents constantly change. And, while overall litigation has dropped, a rising tide of litigation—brought on by “patent trolls” who generate the majority of their revenue from licensing or enforcing their patents—has swelled. Pathetic. 

These obstacles could cause many organizations considering a patent to ask a fair question: Is it worth the trouble? The answers, according to the story, are “different for small and large businesses.” Read the story to find out why.

Sure, the industry will benefit when personalization technologies and the patent process are more advanced. But it’s also important to note that rapid advancement of the aforementioned developments, without carefully considering the consequences, could bring irreparable harm to the industry. While it’s natural to want to hasten some of the slower-moving industry developments, sometimes a measured approach is best for the industry’s long-term viability. 

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