Opus CAT Scan Gives Good Prognosis for Self-Service

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According to the research, published in the report "CAT Foundations 2007: Making Speech Matter," Opus identified growth in speech self-service and its associated software and services at slightly more than 20 percent, while IT spending in general is creeping along at 5 percent to 7 percent growth. It attributes the strong growth in the self-service arena to the involvement of high-level executives in the purchasing of technology.

"In general, what we are seeing industry- wide is more of an effort to recognize that speech is an important component of any self-service strategy. Investment is becoming important in the higher layers of the solution stack, so it is still complicated to implement speech-enabled solutions effectively," says Dan Miller, senior analyst at Opus Research. "A lot of attention is rightfully being put on integration efforts, on connectors/links into back-end business logic—be it CRM or ERP—and increasingly to support mobility and access to back-end information systems from wherever an individual is."

The report further forecasts the spending to continue through 2011. "The overall spending, because we average it on a per-port basis, won't decline precipitously as is characteristic of a commodity speech solution, because there is still a lot of value that is brought by integrators, by hosted services providers, and by application developers, so we just see a change in the mix," Miller states.

"The speech resources themselves, during our forecast period, which will start this year and end in 2011, (the core recognition and text-to-speech rendering both network side and embedded) will rightly become a commodity, so that accuracy is less a factor than it has ever been." Miller explains. "The application logic that includes speech recognition in self-service strategies, in mobility strategies is where the money is going to be spent, so that when you look at conversational solutions, it includes the core technology."

According to the report, effectively deploying self-service resources that leverage IP-telephony and Web services investment result in higher return on investment and lower total cost of ownership. It details the shift in focus away from speech as a siloed purchase toward speech as a component of an overall, integrated solution. "It is no longer just about speech-enablement, it is about helping businesses fulfill their business objectives. Last year, it became very clear that there is a focus on the quality of the user experience. Now we are seeing more attention being paid to building better frameworks for constantly monitoring and improving the applications that include speech," Miller says. "We don't see a declining investment on conversational access technologies. We would like to see a rationalization in lowering of the price of core voice processing components, but we want to see that accompanied by more attention paid to the software and services that surround the speech resources."

In its forecasting model for CAT, Opus accounts for assumptions about the level of enterprise spending on a fully configured solution and gives an average going rate for a solution based on a per-port or port equivalent.

The report also tracks, quantifies, and forecasts the CAT components of IT and telecom spending. These components include automated speech processing; application development, administration, and management resources; application software, professional services and maintenance; and hosted speech services. CAT is also connected to call processing and routing as well as security and access management

"We call it our foundations document because we like our clients to use it as a foundation for planning where to focus their investments, their channel strategies, their product development, and so on," Miller says.

"This year we have stepped up coverage of what is going on with embedded speech processing resources— both recognition and rendering speech to text—for such applications as you have seen Nuance demonstrate with dictation of text messages or rendering of email through phones," Miller continues.

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