Industry reports: are they your best information source?

Staying ahead of the pack in the rapidly emerging speech recognition industry requires up to date, reliable information.

Some companies have sufficiently developed internal marketing research efforts to understand the marketplace clearly through their own efforts. Certainly there are advantages to having control of the information pipeline, knowing where the information came from and being able to tailor a project to your own company’s needs.

At the other end of the spectrum are firms that rely on a chief executive who “flies by the seat of his pants.” They are convinced their own products will be successful regardless of what the market does, or how their competitors behave.

More often than not, companies in the speech arena fall somewhere in between these two extremes They recognize the need to stay informed, especially in an industry where, as Bill Meisel notes, changes are revolutionary, not evolutionary, meaning the projected forecast, based on last year’s sales, is hardly ever a reasonable prediction of what will happen next year. They know they need to be informed, but do not have the internal resources to research the market.

Often the solution is to rely on industry-specific reports. Many provide solid information, but deciding which ones to purchase can be time consuming and costly. Especially since the very nature of the information business requires that a company pay before actually seeing the product.

With that in mind, we thought our readers would like to know a little more about some of the available reports that are relevant to the speech recognition market.

Advanced Speech Technology Market
The Advanced Speech Technology Market: Recognition, Text-to-Speech, and Compression: Applications, Trends, Market Size and Technology Sources, was authored by Dr. William Meisel, a well-known industry consultant and the editor of Speech Recognition Update newsletter.

Meisel calls the report “three reports in one” because it covers speech recognition, text-to-speech synthesis, and speech compression. In each of these areas, the report covers technology, applications, trends, vendors, and market size, including projections through the year 2000.

Despite the broad coverage, the report manages to describe key application areas and developments in those areas. It contains vendor profiles, including addresses and phone numbers.

Projections, which include both unit sales and dollar revenue, are broken down by market segments, including:

The technology discussion breaks down the technologies by their major characteristics and differences with minimal use of jargon. The discussion of industry trends provides a guide to current and future opportunities.

Dr. Meisel’s credentials give validity to the projections and analysis. He has 20 years of experience in speech recognition, including founding and managing a speech recognition company for ten years. He wrote the first textbook on computer pattern recognition as well as over 60 related papers.

This report illustrates the potential value of market studies in saving time and providing an authoritative checklist for applications and suppliers. The market projections represent an independent source of estimates for the growth of the market, and will be particularly useful in business planning and validating the market for investment purposes. It is the sort of reference guide that will be used often in planning and competitive analysis.

“The speech technology market barely existed three years ago as an identifiable opportunity,” said Meisel. “Now it is becoming key to the success of a number of products and services. This revolutionary change creates difficulty in estimating the size of the markets. One cannot simply look at sales in the previous years and extrapolate. In 1991, the number of speech recognition products shipped could be measured in the thousands, in 1992 the number was in the 10,000s, and by 1994 in the millions. Audio compression on the Internet was not a market in 1994, in 1995 it emerged as tens of thousands of Internet telephones and audio players were distributed. Growth in speech technology is not constrained by manufacturing capacity, since the products are simply software.”

“Changes in speech technology markets have been revolutionary,” Meisel noted. “Market size is estimated in this study by looking at trends that make major new markets and their effect. Examples of specific trends are the adoption by telephone service providers of speech recognition as a basic interface to the public telephone system, shipping of speech recognition free with personal computers, and the bundling of advanced speech compression with every copy of Windows 95.”

The study is priced at $1995.

For more information about the study, Speech Recognition Update, and TMA Associates, contact the TMA website at http://www.tmaa.com or call (818) 708-0962.

Processing Systems: the Call of the Future
Telecommunications voice processing systems will soon be in everyone’s home, business, and automobile, according to a recent report from Frost and Sullivan. As organizations and consumers seek to improve the manner in which they communicate with others over the telephone, the market for North American voice processing is growing, according to a strategic research study, North American Voice Processing Service, published by Frost and Sullivan.

“Both residential and business customers are being introduced to the advantages of voice-activated dialing services,” said telecommunications analyst Larry Herman.

Using the latest in speech recognition technology, these services offer both wireline and wireless telephone service to customers, giving them the opportunity to dial telephone numbers by means of voice commands.

For example, the Frost and Sullivan report noted that if a person were driving an automobile, and did not have access to a telephone directory, he or she could dial the desired number simply by saying the name of the person, without his or her hands ever leaving the steering wheel.

Revenue growth rates in the voice processing services market continue to be driven by the increasing importance of computer telephony integration (CTI) and the growing need of organizations to provide automated phone services to customers on a 24-hour-a-day basis.

Revenues from the North American voice processing services totaled $5.03 billion in 1995, driven by bulk purchases of services by large organizations, according to Frost and Sullivan. The study encompasses three market segments: voice messaging services, interactive response/audiotex services, and voice-activated dialing services.

The passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has opened the door to competition, and companies of all types will be able to offer long distance and local telephone services as well as cable television service.

Key technologies reviewed in the report are interactive voice response systems, audiotex service, and voice-activated dialing services. Voice-activated dialing services cover two subsegments of the market: wireline voice-activated services and wireless voice-activated dialing services.

The report North American Voice Processing Services, was published in October by Frost and Sullivan. The full report is number 2517-63, is priced at $2,495, and is available from Frost and Sullivan, 2525 Charleston Road, Mountain View, CA 94043.

Customer Service, Interpretability Key CTI Growth
The convergence of powerful voice and computing technologies is opening up a whole new range of solutions for customers who are clamoring for manageable ways to take advantage of the power that these solutions offer, according to a study from the MultiMedia Telecommunications Association (MMTA) and Communications Week magazine.

Among the key findings of the study were that corporate customers want CTI products that will help them improve customer service. They do not want to face interpretability problems, and they are prepared to make significant investments to bring the benefits of CTI into their business.

MMTA and Communications Week magazine conducted the study in the spring, with the objectives of identifying the CTI market and technology trends and understanding current and future buying patterns.

In this study, a randomly-selected group of 2,000 potential respondents were prescreened to identify only companies who currently use CTI or plan to implement it within the next two years. The survey was then mailed to 657 qualified managers of Telecommunications or Information Services, and 200 people responded.

The study led to four key findings:
• CTI is today primarily implemented for inbound call center applications, and its key benefit is enhanced customer service
• Adherence to industry standards is a critical consideration for users.
• Users plan on increasing CTI expenditures by 40% in 1997, with consulting/integration services seeing the greatest increase.
• Market education needs to focus on application benefits, and be targeted more to user department and corporate management.

For more information on this study, contact Guy Walden, director of membership services, MultiMedia Tele-communications Association, 1820 Jefferson Place, NW, Washington, DC 20036, or call (202) 296-9800, ext. 266; or contact Lisa Boomer, Research Manager, Communications Week, 2800 Campus Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403, or call (415) 525-4427.

Voice Processing Industry Dynamics Report
Insight Research Corporation Reports provides comparative market research and competitive analysis exclusively for the telecommunications industry. A recent example is Voice Processing Industry Dynamics and Network Services, 1995-2000, which details recent improvements in speech processing, including man-machine applications, text-to-speech conversion, speech synthesis, and speech recognition. A complete discussion of speech processing as an enhanced service element is provided.

The Insight report argues that passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 means increasing competition for all telephone companies. The challenge will be not only for them to find new sources of revenue, but to maintain their customer bases and reduce “churn”. Voice processing services present a solution to both challenges, according to Insight.

Multimedia messaging applications, now in their infancy, will grow to a billion dollar market by the year 2000, according to the Insight report. Integrated messaging is expected to bundle many of these new services. Integrated messaging services allow a telephone subscriber to combine all her messaging needs - voice, fax, e-mail, pager, data and even video - in one access form.

This bundled service could become a way to create customer loyalty in a marketplace full of competing communications services.

Insight believes that the biggest trend in the voice processing industry is the convergence of voice messaging and voice response capabilities within a single platform. The Insight Voice Processing report argues that software systems will prevail (rather than hardware ones), and the overall effect will be a restructuring of the industry.

The study also features five year forecasts of voice processing and voice response revenue in such segments as Voice Mailboxes, Network Voice Messaging and CTI, Voice Messaging equipment and services, and IVR equipment. The study also features detailed vendor profiles and discussion of trends, cooperative alliances and distributed call centers.

Insight also features reports on network services, covering topics like generating service revenues and telecommunication services for the health care industry and Internet related issues.

For more information, contact The Insight Corporation, 354 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston, NJ 07039-1023, at (201) 605-1400.

Reports from Forrester Research
Forrester Research offers its clients a business-focused review of emerging technologies. Forrester reports that over 2,000 companies have purchased their research reports.

Typically, the company’s research reports focus on one of three areas: strategic management, corporate information technology, and end users.

Strategic management reports give senior management a high-performance organization that unlocks the complicated relationship between technology, revenue and profit, according to the Forrester group.

Corporate information technology reports help IT executives define and work toward building a high-performance organization that leverages emerging technologies for competitive advantage. Some recent corporate IT reports focus on networks, packaged applications, and telecommunications strategies.

Reports for technology users and vendors typically explore such issues as the relationships between technology and people, media and money as well as interactive technology studies.

Forrester’s headquarters are in Cambridge MA, and the firm has offices in Melbourne, London, San Francisco, and Chicago.

For more information, contact Forrester Research, Inc., 1033 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138. The company can be reached by phone at (617) 497-7090 and on the Internet at www.forrester.com.

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