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The 2018 Speech Industry Star Performers

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One of the best parts of putting together the Speech Industry Awards is watching the patterns and trends that emerge—it has a way of distilling what we already knew. This year, you can see the influence chatbots have had on the list, but what interests me most is how often medical applications come up—especially in the speech analytics space. Improved customer service is great, but using voice analysis to catch devastating illnesses in early stages is literally life or death. 

I think you’ll see throughout the issue that, while speech technologies of all sorts are becoming positively commonplace in many industries and homes, some of the things they are now capable of doing are positively extraordinary. I hope you enjoy reading about 2018’s Luminaries, Implementations, and Star Performers as much as I did finding them. —Theresa Cramer, Editor

2018 Star Performers

These cutting-edge vendors are leading the way in AI, analytics, natural language, smart speakers, and more. 


In 2018, it’s tough to have a conversation about speech technology that doesn’t involve Amazon. Whether we’re talking about Alexa, the Alexa Fund—which has $100 million to spend on venture capital investments on voice recognition projects—or Connect, a self-service, cloud-based contact center service, Amazon is a leader in the field.


Artificial Solutions

Artificial Solutions’ Teneo is betting that advancements in natural language will make all the difference when it comes to interacting with apps, devices, and web services. Natural language interaction (NLI), as Artificial Solutions calls it and as delivered through Teneo, allows non-specialists to develop enterprise-strength, conversational applications that analyze, reason, and react like a human.



Customer experience is, increasingly, a cross-platform challenge. Aspect’s Call Center understands that and covers them all: mobile and IVR self-service, agent-assisted conversations, inbound and outbound voice, email, SMS, chat, and social. Aspect aims to create solutions that can handle it all so customers don’t have to piece together disparate systems.



Cobalt holds 50 patents, all of which aim to help companies achieve highly accurate transcriptions in difficult settings. It also does the opposite, providing text-to-speech conversions. But its analytics are what really interest us. Cobalt says it can use voice analysis to identify the early onset of various conditions like dementia or depression. 



Cogito says it detects human signals and provides live behavioral guidance to improve the quality of every interaction. In other words, when your customer is frustrated on a service call, Cogito’s analytics can help reps understand and engage differently. Hopefully, it leads to a better customer experience and prompts the caller to walk away a brand advocate. 



Convergys’s virtual assistant solutions combine Omilia’s conversational customer care platform with Convergys’s customer journey insights. Add in Convergys’s Customer Interaction Hub, user experience design expertise, delivery capabilities, and professional services and you have a suite of powerful solutions to aid your customer all along their journey. (Shortly before this issue went to press, Convergys announced it had entered into an agreement to be acquired by SYNNEX Corp.)



Smart speakers and chatbots are all over the news, but Google’s Duplex—which can help users make appointments—made news when its human-like voice (complete with ums and ahs) rubbed some people the wrong way. Controversy aside, Duplex represents a big advancement in voice technology.



Watson first brought the reality of a computer that can answer your questions to the masses with its Jeopardy! appearance in 2011. Now, Watson Assistant allows you to add a natural language interface to applications and automate interactions with end users. Train Watson Assistant through a web application, designed so you can build natural conversation flows, and deploy scalable, cost-effective solutions.



In a world where customers interact with you on a number of platforms, it can be hard to track their journeys. Invoca connects phone calls and conversations to the digital journey, helping companies to drive revenue and delight their customers.



Omilia’s stack of proprietary technologies allows enterprises to take an omnichannel approach to conversational customer service. Omilia is able to provide its customers with a single unified platform for conversational customer service on all channels. It offers DNN speech recognition, voice biometric authentication, digital channel plug-ins, and more. 



Need to keep up with the chatbot revolution? OneReach can help. It offers clients the ability to quickly build and deploy chatbots on a number of channels, including Slack, Twitter, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and more. And if you still want the human touch, One Reach also offers a call center app. 



Voice and AI go hand in hand in 2018. And Sensory wants to “bring artificial intelligence to the edge.” Among its offerings are TrulyNatural, an embedded large-vocabulary continuous speech recognizer system, and Truly Secure, which allows developers to deploy a multimodal voice and vision authentication solution for mobile phones, tablets, and PCs.



Want to take speech analytics one step further? That’s what VoiceSense has done by linking speech patterns to behavioral and personal characteristics. VoiceSense focuses on aspects independent from language, details such as intonation, pace, and emphasis. Its technology has a range of useful applications—customer service, predicting loan defaults, even tracking PTSD.



Voice-first experiences are the future—maybe even the present—and Witlingo focuses on helping clients deliver these experiences with minimal effort and cost. As preferred partners of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, Witlingo can help companies embrace the voice-first future.


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