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Speech Developer Platforms: Reshaping the Market By Mimicking App Stores

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Building a Business Case 

In addition to building the stores themselves, vendors also need to provide developers with financial incentives. No company wants to spend time building apps if they cannot monetize them. 

Here Amazon again seems to be leading the way. It offers three revenue streams for developers: skill-based purchases, the ability to collect payments via Amazon Pay, and a rewards program. Their first option enables developers to build and sell premium content that can be marketed as either digital subscriptions or one-time fees. Sports Jeopardy!, Match Game, and Heads Up are a few examples of such applications. 

In addition, companies are using the voice applications to sell customers their products. For instance, restaurant chain TGI Friday’s plans to use skills and Amazon Pay to enable customers to preorder food. Atom Tickets is building applications to let customers order movie tickets using Amazon Pay and Alexa. In these cases, Amazon offers a revenue-sharing model similar to what Google offers advertisers who use its search capabilities.

Amazon also created a multitiered rewards system. If U.S. developers published a skill before the end of the 2017, they received an Alexa developer hoodie. If 100 customers used the skill in its first 30 days in the Alexa Skills Store, the developer could receive a free Echo Dot.

Google is also having some success courting third parties. Founded in 2008, InteractiveTel developed a speech analytics solution for car dealerships. The firm started off by delivering click-to-call features for customer relationship management solutions and has evolved to deliver more services. 

Sentiment analytics has long been a customer desire, but the costs traditionally have been too high. “The charge for each call was $3 to $5,” explains Gary Graves, chief technology officer and cofounder of InteractiveTel. “Dealerships receive 250,000 minutes each month, so the pricing was cost-prohibitive.” 

In the past few years, though, speech suppliers have been working on algorithms and software to automate call recording, which would lessen the expense. In summer 2016, InteractiveTel opted for Google Cloud as its development platform. The system was intuitive, and InteractiveTel felt comfortable relying on Google for the long term.

The third party took the Google solution and tweaked it for its customers. For instance, dealer calls are two-way conservations. Consequently, a one-minute interaction becomes a two-minute audio file. Since Google charges for the length of the audio file, costs can rise. InteractiveTel wrote its own software to cut the dead air time and modify the silent periods so customers only pay for voice input rather than someone listening to what someone else says. 

The speech application development market has taken root quickly, and change seems imminent in 2018. InteractiveTel’s Graves has advice for businesses that want to take advantage of the technology. “To get these solutions functioning the way that you want them to, you need to be an active part of the development community,” he recommends. 

Dimitris Vassos, CEO of Omilia, a provider of speech and virtual agent technologies, sees a broader industry need. “The catalyst for winning the large-scale enterprise projects in 2018 is each vendor’s ability to provide powerful, all-inclusive, enterprise-grade, web-based development tool sets that enable customers to autonomously manage natural language dialogues, retain and manage context, and increase the level of automation, without the need for expensive professional services,” he says.

With the market in an early stage of development, vendors are open to suggestions for new functionality. As the market solidifies, favorites will emerge, the installed base will grow, business processes will harden, and it will become more difficult to add the functionality a company desires. 

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