David Weiden, Vice President of Marketing, Tellme Networks
Q Please describe a successful deployment of speech technology with appropriate supporting statistics.
A Toll-free directory assistance (1-800-555-1212) has accomplished incremental savings of over $10,000,000 per year with a simultaneous increase in caller satisfaction after moving to our network. The application is particularly notable due to very high call volume - millions of calls per week - and the breadth of possible caller responses- literally thousands and thousands. Q What is Tellme doing to enhance speech technology within the service provider marketplace?
A The service provider segment is a primary focus for Tellme, and types of deployments include customer care, directory assistance, content services and joint sales to other enterprises. A notable example of an application unique to the service provider space is AT&T Wireless's #121 service that provides voice-driven access to information ranging from stock quotes to traffic updates. Q Where is speech technology going to be in three to five years?
A We believe the primary difference over the next three to five years will be significant increases in adoption and usage. Much of this increase in adoption is being enabled by changes in the underlying platforms to VoiceXML and network-based approaches. Q What are some of the barriers to speech technology adoption?
A First I'd note that overall we are very pleased with the rate of speech adoption we're seeing with our clients. That being said, we certainly run into barriers. Foremost among these is the perception that there is a tradeoff between cost savings and quality of the user experience. This perception primarily stems from the experiences people have everyday with poorly designed IVR systems. Q You have recently achieved success with the 511 enhanced service solution for Utah, describe that deployment and why you think there will be more of those services deployed.
A Utah's 511 deployment was a pleasure for us to work on, particularly because it was completed in a short time frame, in time for the Winter Olympic games, while the world's attention was focused on Salt Lake City. It was also the first 511 service to use speech. Much of the motivation behind making 511 services speech-enabled is to increase driving safety with hands-free access to travel information. Q Describe Tellme's Dialtone 2.0(SM) service offering.
A Dialtone 2.0(SM) is our vision for the future of communication over the phone, bringing together the reliability and ease of use of the telephone with the power of the Internet. Instead of perpetually typing in a series of 10 digit numbers to interact with often difficult to use systems, people can simply say who they want to call and what information they need. For example, someone on their way to work can have an email read to them, respond to the email via a voice message, and then book a flight and hotel, all with just a few commands. AT&T Wireless is moving towards this vision in partnership with Tellme today. Q What vertical markets are the strongest drivers/implementers of the services speech technology has to offer?
A Any industry with significant customer interaction over the phone is a great candidate for using speech. Financial services and travel have had many of the industry's flagship deployments, with a number of more recent successes in the service provider segment. As technology and expertise advances, new markets continue to open up, as evidenced by the toll-free directory assistance example cited earlier. Q How important are human-factors-design issues compared to the underlying technology such as accuracy performance for a successful speech solution? What are ways customers can improve the design process?
A Design and technology go hand-in-hand in creating world-class telephone applications. Our clients have found great success in application design by being clear with goals, employing significant usability testing and building an effective partnership between internal and external team members. Q Who are some of your partners and why did you choose those companies?
A We work with a variety of partners ranging from technology suppliers to system integrators to industry associations, and the motivations for the relationships vary. For example, Sabre has unique relationships in the travel industry. On the other hand, technical excellence was the primary driver for selecting AT&T, Nuance and NMS as key technology suppliers. Q ATT has recently announced their intentions to provide hosting services, how will this impact Tellme considering ATT's ownership interest in your company?
A Interestingly, AT&T runs one of our primary data centers, so we are a significant customer of their hosting services today. Overall AT&T has been an excellent partner to Tellme on many levels, and we look forward to continuing to invest in that relationship.