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The 2012 Market Leaders

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Speech Analytics

The Market

This year has seen a rash of merger and acquisition activity in the speech analytics market. In February 2011, HP bought next-generation analytics platform provider Vertica; in July, Verint purchased Vovici, a provider of enterprise feedback management solutions; and in October, Avaya acquired Aurix, a United Kingdom–based speech analytics and audio data mining company.

Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting, says that in 2004, there were only 25 traceable speech analytics implementations. Today, there are more than 3,170.

"Quality assurance has been done the same way, mostly manual, since the contact center has been around," Fluss says. "There's a new sheriff in town, [and] that sheriff is analytics-enabled quality assurance. It makes so much more sense to use automation to do things like mining the appropriate calls. Once you get it in for analytics-enabled quality assurance, you can be positioned to do more and more with it.

"Speech analytics remains one of the most exciting technologies in the contact center," Fluss continues. "The long-term benefits…are unbelievable, and it's just going to get better."

The Leaders

CallMiner ranked highly among analysts, who praised its accuracy, customer satisfaction level, and depth of functionality. In 2011, the company launched CallMiner Eureka 8, with a capability for automatic quality monitoring called AutoQM. Eureka AutoQM allows 100 percent of contacts through any channel to be monitored automatically, compares agent and customer behaviors against standard assessment categories, and proactively elevates any activity of special concern.

In 2012, CallMiner partnered with ResponseTek, a provider of customer experience management software solutions, to offer a combination of capabilities to drive rapid improvement in quality and customer satisfaction metrics. The addition of CallMiner's speech analytics allows ResponseTek to interpret unstructured voice feedback, providing contact centers with a complete understanding of customer experience drivers.

Perennial favorite Verint once again scored well with analysts, who cited its accuracy, depth of functionality, and high customer satisfaction. The company bolstered its offerings with the purchase of Vovici in mid-2011. The acquisition gave Verint scalable enterprise feedback solutions it can incorporate into its VoC Analytics platform.

"[This is] a strategic move that will fill a void in the market by enabling customers to extract tremendous value from this emerging tool set for the chief customer officer," said Dan Bodner, CEO of Verint. "It will offer…customers another means to extract critical information through sophisticated enterprise feedback and robust analytics, to better anticipate, understand, and act on the voice of the customer, helping foster more loyal customers and drive more profitable…outcomes."

The Winner

For the sixth consecutive year, Nexidia takes top honors, impressing analysts with its accuracy, depth of functionality, and high customer satisfaction.

Nexidia's highlights this year include its release of Search GRID, a software development environment that provides architecture for developers to integrate Nexidia technology into their own applications with the latest Web-services interfaces.

Nexidia claimed a major breakthrough with its core phonetic indexing and search technology. Central to this advancement is an optimized representation of the phonetic index created for each media file. This enhanced index provides a greater than 300 percent increase in search speeds, yet retains 100 percent accuracy. These results apply equally to all types of searches, from ad-hoc queries across large data sets to the structured analysis and reporting provided by Nexidia's Enterprise Speech Intelligence (ESI) product suite.

Vendor Contender

Analysts praised Aurix's accuracy and ease of use, and gave it a high customer satisfaction score. The company was acquired in 2011 by Avaya.

"Aurix brings a robust set of analytic tools…that will add an important component to the…service that Avaya delivers to their enterprise customers and to their customers in turn," one analyst notes.

Voice Security

The Market

Voice security is reaching a level of maturity and viability thanks to technological advances that have helped it overcome organizational barriers and build user acceptance. In addition, companies have finally figured out how to use voice biometrics to provide real-world solutions, like fraud prevention, authentication, speedier and more personalized access to customer service, and convenience.

The technology has gained wider acceptance following several large government projects, but adoption is also being influenced by large private-sector projects. The most common commercial applications to date have been in the financial services, insurance, and telecommunications industries, but many have identified the medical field as an industry rife with opportunities, particularly as it moves to meet government mandates for electronic health records (EHRs).

Also driving adoption is a greater push toward multifactor authentication, which could pair voice technologies with PINs and passwords, facial recognition, fingerprints, iris scans, and security questions, for example. And while multifactor authentication will be the hot-button issue for the next few years, companies will continue to struggle with it, according to experts.

The Leaders

Nuance Communications, which won the category in 2011, quietly acquired PerSay in December 2010, then snatched up Loquendo last summer. Many wondered whether it would be able to merge the varied organizations, sets of customers, and separate biometric engines into one platform while continuing to support all three or migrate customers to the new offerings. It would seem those fears have been laid to rest. "Nuance has very strong technology, experience, and marketing due to acquisitions," says Judith Markowitz, president of J. Markowitz Consulting.

In fact, combining the companies yielded Nuance industry-leading scores in accuracy (4.3) and company expertise (4.8). The one flaw with Nuance's technology, however, is cost, according to analysts, who gave the company an average score of 2.2 in that area.

VoiceVault, which many have identified as a smaller, more agile voice biometrics vendor, has a long history in the financial services and healthcare industries and shows no signs of giving up market share any time soon. Just the opposite, in fact: As the healthcare industry moves to adopt EHRs, VoiceVault is already positioning itself to grab the lion's share of new business this will create.

The vendor, which won the category in 2008 and was identified as a leader in 2011, also offers lower-cost cloud-based enterprise and mobile platform solutions. It scored high among analysts in company expertise (4.2), ease of use (4.0), and customer satisfaction (4.0). It has "good tech know-how" and is "reasonably good in marketing," Markowitz says.

The Winner

Spanish firm Agnitio, which won the category in 2007 and was named an industry leader in 2008 and 2010, this year reprises its role as the top vendor in the category. Analysts propelled the company forward with an industry-leading 4.3 in accuracy (tied with Nuance), a 4.3 in company expertise, and a 4.0 in customer satisfaction. The company boasts a solid foundation in forensics and law enforcement, but with the recent release of its Kivox speaker identification engines, it hopes to expand its presence in the commercial and mobile sectors, where analysts have said it is less skilled.

Vendor Contender

Russia's Speech Technology Center (STC) earlier this year launched a government program in Ecuador to capture voiceprints of criminals upon their arrest. The technology has collected tens of thousands of voiceprints and could store 1 million.

That comes on the heels of a similar project in Mexico to create the world's first nationwide voice-based identification system, the largest government project to date. According to Markowitz, the company "knows the forensic market very well," and its customers are very satisfied. Many feel STC has yet to establish its presence in the commercial market, however. It has identified that as a strategy going forward, which could position it to take even more market share from some of its much larger competitors.

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