What Do Consumers Think of Speech?

Over the past year enterprise and telco buyers have repeatedly asked us the above question. I even heard a debate about this issue on a morning radio program in Boston earlier this year. Speech Technology Magazine decided to find out the answer. We announced earlier this month an in-depth research project conducted by Mark Michelson & Associates to survey consumers and their attitudes and opinions towards using automated speech solutions. Michelson will conduct both quantitative and qualitative measurements of customer acceptance of speech technology. The initial results of these projects will be announced at SpeechTEK 2002 and we will cover this subject matter extensively beginning with the January 2003 edition of Speech Technology Magazine . Speaking of consumers, in this month’s edition of STM we have a feature article from Dr. Caroline Henton and Dr. Geoffrey Pullum reviewing a more natural and ‘ordinary’ way of communicating with callers. They discuss why it is not necessary to apply standard grammar rules in creating voice user interfaces (VUI). The VUI is of paramount importance in communicating with callers and providing them a pleasant experience. Walter Rolandi explores this subject in his column titled, “Do Your Users Feel Silly?” and challenges all of us to review designs using that parameter. Mark Plakias, The Kelsey Group’s trend setting analyst, explores how to make speech ‘cool’. Mark discusses how 19-23 year olds view speech and provides insight into how applications can provide that ‘cool’ experience for the user. How younger users accept speech is very important and will be one of the demographics we will measure in the 2002-2003 Speech Solutions Consumer Acceptance Study. We will see if Mark’s theories prove out. I started 2002 off by attending the Edify Users Conference where multimodal solutions were in the forefront. Since that time I have attended many events this year where multimodality continued to be the dominant discussion point. We asked Alan Schwartz, James Colby, James Masten and Jim Larson to review multimodal applications and what they can do for organizations. James Masten discusses multimodality assisting workers to become ‘wireless’ on page 18; Alan Schwartz provides a look at speech technology embedded into mobile devices on page 28; James Colby describes multimodality as a ‘Wave of the Future’ on page 32; and Jim Larson ties all the multimodal and user interface issues together in his regular column beginning on page 12. We hope these articles shed some light on multimodality. SpeechTEK 2002 will provide a barometer of IT spending on speech solutions for 2003. At a time when most technology sectors and the events devoted to their respective technologies are shrinking, SpeechTEK will have an almost 30% increase in participation from last year. Many of the new companies are system integrators who are incorporating speech into their product offerings because their clients are asking about the promise of speech. Organizations are welcoming the idea of using speech technology to enhance customer communications, products, and worker productivity not to mention a multitude of additional ways many of us cannot yet imagine. This has been a very difficult year for all of us to stay focused and forge ahead when many companies are just not investing in their IT needs. SpeechTEK 2002 will also be a good barometer for us to see what direction the enterprise and telco spending on speech solutions will take. If the early signs are any indication then I think the outlook for 2003 will be positive.. Thanks for supporting Speech Technology Magazine throughout 2002. We very much appreciate the advice, thoughts and questions you provided us in 2002. We look forward to serving you in 2003.
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