Does Speech Produce ‘Uplift’?

“If you had to choose only one benefit with which to promote a speech solution,” I asked SpeechWorks’ Blade Kotelly in recent breakfast meeting, “what would be that benefit?” After a few moments, during which I was sure Blade was going to suggest something like “Reinforces a company’s branding” or “Brings about real ROI for customer satisfaction” he replied, “It produces ‘uplift’ for a company.” While my mind was thinking , “What kind of benefit is ‘uplift’?” Blade went on to explain that because speech can be applied to many facets of an organization, its benefits can be pervasive throughout the organization. Blade was telling me that speech, when viewed beyond a one-dimensional benefit, can have a dynamic affect on the essence of how an organization thinks, communicates, manages its workforce, and treats its customers. When everybody feels better about the way things work, you get. . .uplift. Blade has authored a new book on, as he calls it, “creating the noble voice” highlighting his thoughts on the development of speech applications. “The Art and Business of Speech Recognition: Creating the Noble Voice” offers an easy to understand analysis of the issues involved in designing speech applications. Part of the book is dedicated to actual experiences that provide a glimpse into the development of large speech deployments for some of SpeechWorks’ customers. I highly recommend the book even for those folks who have differing opinions about developing these applications. In this edition of STM, Dr. Janet Baker reviews the state of speech on the desktop. Dr. Baker and her husband, Dr. Jim Baker are certainly pioneers in speech and her article really goes into much more than the state of desktop speech. During the last few years I have certainly been impressed with the tremendous character the Bakers have shown in trying circumstances. I will never forget the passion they displayed at SpeechTEK 2001 when both of the Bakers visited with Indiana University students for over an hour about speech technology. The gleam in their eyes was as bright as that of any new freshman going to college to take on the world. The struggles of building a business had not faded their optimism. Their display of sincere enthusiasm was a stark contrast to many CEO’s we read about today. Last month I announced we were inaugurating a new program to highlight companies that have utilized speech to improve customer service. We have already received a number of submissions for Speech Technology Magazine’s Excellence in Customer Service Award. We will announce our first recipients in the next edition of STM. Submit your nominee by emailing me, john@amcommpublications.com, with the company name, contact person, a number we can call to review the system, and reasons you believe that company exemplifies outstanding customer service. Another way we are recognizing successful speech solutions is by selecting twenty companies for the Most Innovative Uses of Speech. Ten of these companies will be asked to present a summary of their deployments at SpeechTEK 2003 in a specially designed track. These deployments can involve customer service, field force automation, desktop speech uses, speech being deployed in an assistive environment. . .any use of speech that “uplifts” an organization. All twenty winning solutions will be reviewed beginning in the July edition of STM. To nominate a company for this award please email me, john@amcommpublications.com or visit www.speechtechmag.com for more information. A potential candidate for an Excellence in Customer Service Award is ABN AMRO Mortgage who, because of lowering mortgage rates, needed a fast way to provide more customers with a convenient way to inquire about refinancing. ABM AMRO Mortgage found that a packaged voice application provided savings of $5 million a year and generated $1 million in new sales in the first three months alone. An overview of this deployment begins on page 20. Kathy Frostad reviews the growing area of embedded speech beginning on page 16. Many companies are finding that embedding speech serves their needs extremely well. In this article Kathy overviews how embedded speech works, uses for embedded speech, and discusses a number of deployments. You will also find a listing of the companies that deploy embedded speech applications. Finally, let me welcome Matt Keowen to Speech Technology Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board. Matt brings years of experience to this position. Matt is Nuance Communication’s Director of Corporate Marketing. We look forward to working with Matt as our newest member of the Editorial Advisory Board.
John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of Speech Technology Magazine. He can be reached at john@amcommexpos.com
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