Growth, Are You Flirting With Us?
The speech technology industry has struggled through years of complacency. However, there are encouraging signs of growth in some segments, which are highlighted in this year’s Speech Industry Awards.
One significant milestone is that 2008 will be the first year that VoiceXML-based IVR shipments will surpass more traditional applications, according to an analyst firm in our "Speech Self-Service Suite" coverage (page 23). The open-source movement bodes well for large organizations that want to minimize integration and customization costs, and it opens up additional possibilities for multimodal communications. Thanks to VoiceXML, we’re already seeing early versions of multimodal communications in wireless mobile devices, which is why we introduced a new Market Leader category this year—"Mobile Applications" (page 27).
Another important development is that many speech vendors are finally cottoning on to the value of the hosted model. Roughly half of the speech vendors in the "Speech Security" category (page 24), for example, already offer hosted solutions, bringing enterprise-class speech solutions to companies at a much lower cost of entry than on-premises solutions. If hosted speech technology adoption mirrors the customer relationship management industry, these lower-cost hosted solutions will likely attract significant interest from small and midmarket companies.
But, perhaps the industry's most impressive growth area is in the speech analytics market, which soared more than 100 percent in 2007, according to one industry pundit in the "Speech Analytics" category (page 25). And, she says, "momentum in 2008 has remained strong, despite the economic slowdown." Acknowledging that the primary buyers of speech technology are contact centers, she says, "Vendors are not yet penetrating sales and marketing organizations, which represent the greatest opportunities and potential for business benefits."
However, we’ll likely soon see some growth in outbound messaging (think speech-enabled alerts of flight delays and cancellations), given the tremendous opportunities to automate tasks, such as prescription refills and postsales support calls that may include cross-sell and upsell initiatives. This proves that while speech technology still remains true to its core value proposition—reducing enterprise communication costs—other opportunities, such as revenue generation, are emerging.
Perhaps these revenue-generating efforts will be acknowledged in next year’s Speech Industry Awards. For now, the industry should revel in its recent accomplishments, which are the direct result of many of the efforts made by the companies receiving this year’s awards. Congratulations to all of the award winners. Keep raising the bar.
In the spirit of announcing awards, I’m proud to share that this year Speech Technology magazine won seven publication awards for writing and design—five APEX (Awards for Publication Excellence) and two TABPI (Trade, Association, and Business Publications International) awards. It’s an honor to be recognized by respected industry organizations for editorial and design excellence. I’m grateful for our staff’s hard work, and I look forward to improving on our existing achievements.