Paul Ricci, CEO, ScanSoft

ScanSoft has a legacy of growing through acquisition. How much does industry consolidation factor into ScanSoft's overall acquisition strategy? In your opinion, what value does speech industry consolidation offer today's speech customers?

Paul Ricci Speech consolidation means greater investment in key technologies and services by fewer, larger entities. I believe that's good for customers. Our merger with SpeechWorks and our acquisition of Philips and L&H speak for themselves in terms of our view about the power of consolidation. I believe that we are positioned now, more than ever, to best serve customers with technology, language coverage, partnerships and professional services.

Won't the combination of the Dragon, Philips, L&H and now SpeechWorks technology be confusing for customers and difficult to integrate? How can you mitigate these challenges?

PR Over the years, we've become extremely efficient at integrating new products into our product line and clarifying each product's brand, benefits and distribution. Our competitors had been making claims throughout our merger quiet period that the integration of the combined speech assets is a challenge and might create confusion for our customers. The feedback we've received, based on our precise marketing to our customers, prospects, and partners, is quite to the contrary. I think our key constituencies realize that this merger brings together an unmatched suite of assets, and will benefit customers tactically and strategically based on what I believe is an aggressive, innovative product plan for the future.

How will your integration partners be affected by this combination?

PR ScanSoft now offers the broadest speech portfolio of any speech vendor and this will directly benefit our more than 200 platform partners worldwide. Partners can now look to one global resource for leading speech technologies, broad language coverage, application building blocks, full applications, global product support for evolving speech standards and professional services expertise. We have also briefed partners on our specific migration plans to exciting next-generation technologies, and how our planning efforts support backwards API-compatibility to ensure the partner's integration is as simple and quick as possible.

How do you position this new entity for competition with IBM, Nuance and now Microsoft, among others?

PR Actually, Microsoft and IBM are strategic partners with ScanSoft, as are Intel and Cisco. I view our partnership with tech giants as key to our growth, and a validation of this space and its raw potential to extend throughout the global enterprise and Telco organizations. In general, ScanSoft offers customers and partners an unmatched suite of speech technologies and services in the industry. I think platform and System Integrator partners appreciate that scope, so we're excited and encouraged by our partners' response to our product plans, and partnership models. Partners understand the specific benefits of the merger, including the industry's largest set of referenceable, field-proven solutions deployed at over 500 customer sites; greater than 275 applicable speech patents; over $400 million of cumulative investment in speech technologies; more than 500 years of cumulative professional services expertise in speech and over 1,000 cumulative years of R&D experience.

What trends can we expect to see with network speech in the near term and long term?

PR In the near term, we've seen a dramatic shift to a more 'enterprise wide' consideration of speech, versus prior years where companies were deploying silo applications. Our marketing organization has done a superb job staying ahead of our customers' demands for information, and one of our most popular pre-sales engagements with customers is our "Speech Strategy" consultative study and evaluation where we establish a 5-year framework for application rollout, R.O.I. and customer satisfaction, and infrastructure roadmap. I'd also note that I view it a significant characteristic of this market that in challenging economic times, speech consistently delivers R.O.I. and customer satisfaction benefits that exceed that of other technology investment options. Enterprise and Telco organizations also value the 'reach of speech', or the power behind offering customer friendly self-service over the most ubiquitous technology on earth: the telephone. Few technology categories deliver the flexible advantages speech delivers, and I think the participation by Microsoft, IBM, Genesys Cisco and Intel - all leading tech companies who've made new, large strides in speech - reflects our industry's attractiveness. And I couldn't be happier that these prominent technology companies have chosen ScanSoft for strategic partnership. I would also highlight what I view as primary drivers for our industry, including the referenceability of successful, deployed applications, a packaged solutions expertise, high-performing core technologies that deliver better results in multiple languages, across wireless, IP and landline networks, and a proven expertise in Professional Services delivery, particularly the art of user interface design.

What's your one sentence answer to the simple question, "Why would a customer buy from you vs. your competition?"

PR Superior technology, greater professional services expertise, the broadest language coverage, the most deployed systems worldwide and a global network of industry-leading platform and strategic partners. That's the ScanSoft difference.

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