Speech Industry to Gain Momentum, GIA Predicts

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After two years of dormancy, the speech industry will grow to a booming $20.93 billion by 2015, up from $5.2 billion at the end of 2009, research firm Global Industry Analysts (GIA) predicts.

What’s more, speech recognition systems will continue to expand as “an indispensable part of new-age applications,” GIA says.

In a report on the speech technology industry, titled “Speech Technology: A Global Strategic Business Report,” GIA cites the technology’s medium- to long-term benefits, even in the face of a recession, as one of the prime indicators for growth.

The research firm adds that not only has speech recognition become an invaluable part of new-age applications but the technology also has gone beyond traditional corporate use, such as interactive voice response systems in contact centers and medical reporting in healthcare, to reach into the mass market. Most notably, speech has made its mark in mobile phones and car navigation systems.

The report does not deny the benefits to the call center, however. “The compelling cost advantages offer a strong business case for [speech recognition] systems at call centers, with the technology flaunting the potential to shore up approximately 90 percent of the cost of a call by eliminating the intervention of customer service agents,” it says.

“From searching addresses in the mobile phone, accessing public information from the Internet, dictating messages to computers, and controlling consumer appliances, to converting voicemail into email or text messages, the use of simple and natural speech commands has and will continue gaining in significance,” the report continues.

There are no signs of a slowdown in advancements, the report notes, as phone manufacturers, network operators, and carriers have begun to offer mobile handsets with voice recognition features, such as voice dialing, speech-enabled GPS navigation, and other voice-powered applications, including auto-dictation, voice search, and voicemail-to-text. The report also is bullish on voice biometrics.

“Given its foolproof ability to verify access remotely, voice verification is magnetizing immense potential across banking, finance, and credit union sectors,” the report states.

Businesses are expected to embrace voice verification systems in a big way, as they attempt to achieve a higher degree of authentication and verification standards. Growth, the report notes,  will be “effervescent among both public and private sector enterprises.”

In addition, global demand for automatic speech recognition is expected to increase at a robust double-digit growth rate through 2015 as a result of the opportunities for speech technology in the mobile market, GIA predicts. “With modern, fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyles leading consumers to use mobile phones, even in environments where both hands and eyes are engaged, the demand for speech recognition applications for mobile communication is forecast to wax exponentially in the upcoming years,” the report claims, noting that growth of advanced speech recognition in mobile handsets and in-vehicle telematics will be especially robust.

The United States accounts for about 60 percent of the global speech technology market, GIA says, and while the industry will not grow quite as fast as it had before the recession, call centers will still use speech solutions—speech only or combinations of speech and touch-tone.

GIA notes that speech recognition can save call centers about 50 percent of costs spent on service agents, even as companies improve the overall productivity of the call center. The ability of speech analytics to transform unstructured customer communications and conversations into actionable events makes these applications beneficial for enterprises of all sizes.

Revenue for text-to-speech systems in the United States is expected to surge at 23.2 percent per year through 2015. Additionally, the recession has spurred the popularity of new forms of e-commerce, in which companies seek to leverage the low-cost natural interface offered by automated speech recognition, text-to-speech, and voice-identification technologies.

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