What Does It Mean?

What impact will the recent acquisition moves of SBC and Verizon have on the mainstreaming of speech? Dan Miller of OPUS Research suggested we watch what happens to the SBC Call Center Solutions Group in competition with Verizon's Enterprise Systems Group. "With AT&T's roster of enterprise customers as a prospect base, the offer is to help them migrate from the 'old school' (meaning expensive) legacy speech processing and enhanced routing services offered by AT&T, onto more cost effective and robust IP-based services. Like Verizon Enterprise Solutions, SBC has the personnel and partnerships to help their customers make the move. It will be their installed base to cultivate and, conversely, theirs to lose," according to Miller. (As I write this column Verizon just announced their intent to acquire MCI.)

Making speech easier to deploy is the focus of two pieces in this edition of Speech Technology Magazine (STM). Beginning on page eight, Peter Gavalakis provides an in-depth overview of the available speech development tools and their potential for accelerating the time-to-market for your speech application.  You will find out how speech tools can accelerate your deployment through the understanding of five critical areas: Impact of Web-centric solution architecture on tool offerings; Application development and deployment simplification; Role of pre-built speech applications; Testing tools and iterative refinement; and Guidelines for selecting a tool vendor.

The chair of the W3Cs MultiModal Working Group, Debbie Dahl provides a comprehensive overview of the role that standards play in deploying speech applications on page 16. Dahl takes the reader on a journey that includes understanding why you should standardize, what a standard is, how they are authored, the range of standards that impact speech deployments and the latest information available on these standards. This special supplement to STM is Dahl's latest effort for us; Dahl also chairs the annual Speech Solutions CHALLENGE held at SpeechTEK.

An area of speech that we have not covered as much as we would have liked in the last year is transcription. Judith Markowitz makes up for our omissions with her article that begins on page 27. Markowitz explores the latest offerings for dictation and how they are being used in today's market segments. Much of her research is focused on the healthcare industry's use of speech.

Speaking of healthcare, STM associate editor Stephanie Owens contributes an excellent piece on the uses of speech in the healthcare industry. Owens' story begins on page 31 and gives the reader a glimpse into the various uses of speech currently being deployed to make healthcare providers more efficient. She also previews an application that I find very useful (especially as I get older), a talking pill bottle. Owens estimates that more than 100,000 people die per year from improper use of medicine and accounts for $93 billion in insurance claims in the U.S. Wizzard Software produces this product that uses text-to-speech and recognizes up to 30 languages.

Phil Britt begins his tenure with us by contributing a story about "Embedding Speech into Consumer Products" beginning on page 35. Britt examines the role of embedded speech recognition in consumer devices. He explores the opportunities of embedded speech in diverse market segments from medical to warehouse uses.

Disaster recovery is an area that is just beginning to come into the forefront for speech enablement. Heather Howland examines six areas that speech can assist in preparing for disaster recovery efforts. She highlights an application deployed for the Bank of New York to keep bank employees and customers connected should a disaster occur.

This is also the first edition that Dan Miller joins us as a columnist, replacing his longtime partner Mark Plakias, who has moved on to France Telecom as an enterprise applications strategist based out of San Francisco. We wish Mark all the best and I have enjoyed a lot of good times with him over the last five years. I'll miss him.

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