Nuance Roars into New Markets
Dictation software isn’t new. In particular, the 10th release of Dragon NaturallySpeaking from Nuance Communications, one of the premier dictation packages in use, was launched in late 2008, but was born back in the early 1990s. At that time and for more than a decade after, dictation packages were primarily used in a few vertical markets, such as healthcare, legal, and assistive technology.
Dragon is still in use in those traditional markets. In fact, more than 70,000 healthcare providers are now using it for dictation, from creating case notes to dictating reports. Lawyers still heavily rely on the ability to dictate notes and reports. So do educators in K-12, colleges, and special education programs. In support of the latter, last year Nuance put together a group that specializes in schools and the assistive technology market. For example, a recent partnership with the Perkins School for the Blind, which provides services to 100,000 people a year, will increase use even further by focusing on how to integrate Dragon into more programs and with other assistive software programs. Similarly, Dragon is also being used by students with language-based learning disabilities.
Nuance has bolstered those traditional markets with new languages, and in some cases, custom vocabularies, such as a preconfigured vocabulary containing 30,000 words and phrases for the legal market, or medical formatting and vocabularies for all areas of healthcare. Now, however, technological advancement and a change in worker mindset are two factors that have contributed to the groundswell of adoption into new markets.
Speed and accuracy are prime advancements in Release 10 of Dragon. Nuance increased accuracy by 20 percent so that Dragon recognizes up to 99 percent of what is dictated with no spelling errors, and in mind-blowing speed, capturing up to 160 words per minute—more than three times as fast as the average typist.
Dragon now enables users to command and control popular productivity applications, such as the Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and many instant messaging clients. Dragon comes equipped with voice shortcuts that enable multiple steps of a task to be done in a single voice command, such as opening a browser and inputting a search term into a Web search engine, or opening an email program and inserting a recipient’s name into the “to” field. It provides users with document formatting shortcuts as well. Dragon has been made more convenient by the fact that an end user can, with a Bluetooth headset, dictate into the PC while not sitting in front of it, and the dictation can be digitally recorded onto a device and uploaded into a document at a later time.
With increased speed and accuracy, and the ability to dictate into recorders, the market for dictation has exploded into some truly beneficial areas. For example, law enforcement uses Dragon for arrest reports, and federal law enforcement agencies use it for intelligence notes. Insurance claims adjusters, field service workers, inspectors, and others who document the status of customer site conditions use it to dictate reports. Perhaps the most dramatic benefits are being achieved by social workers who use it to dictate case notes. In a field noted for high turnover and burnout rates, Dragon is heaven for social workers. Dragon enables them to dictate their case and meeting notes while on site or in their cars, greatly increasing the freshness, quality, and accuracy of their reports, and relieving them of unpaid after-hours work.
The mindset of the end user has also changed. In the past five years, as mobile devices have proliferated and telecommuting has become the norm, dictation has begun to be seen as a natural fit for working out of the office and away from a desk. It is also gaining in popularity among college students, journalists, and writers. The ease of command and control and formatting, plus the ability to dictate and upload later, has made a great impact on productivity, which will only increase as the next generation becomes more entrenched in the workforce.
Nancy Jamison is principal analyst at Jamison Consulting. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.jamison-consulting.com.