The Recession's Turbulent Effect
This year has witnessed some sizable shifts in the speech technology industry’s competitive landscape, which are reflected in the 2009 Market Leaders awards (page 20). In fact, in an unusual turn of events, the vendors on last year’s “Speech Self-Service Suite” and “Speech Security” leaderboards have been completely replaced. Some of the disruptive forces facing the vendors in these and other categories include new entrants, mergers and acquisitions, the recession’s impact on competitors’ financial health, and vendors’ ability to provide lower-cost solutions for cash-strapped clients.
The effects of mergers and acquisitions continue to make their mark on the leaderboards. In the “Professional Services” category (page 26), last year’s newly paired Convergys/Intervoice didn’t waste much time impressing our pool of judges. The combined company jumped from Vendor Contender last year to the category winner this year, receiving high marks in every scoring criterion.
Separately, Avaya and Nortel Networks were strong enough to be considered for the “Professional Services” leaderboard. Avaya, on its own merits, won this year’s Vendor Contender in the category. Nortel “scored near perfect in the number and breadth of services offered and scored very high in customer satisfaction and cost,” according to Editorial Assistant Eric Barkin. But its bankruptcy filing damaged its company direction and ability-to-execute scores. If Avaya’s bid to buy the bulk of Nortel Networks’ Enterprise Solutions assets is accepted by the courts, then the combined company will be well-positioned to sit on this category’s leaderboard next year.
The speech security market continues to prove its worth, but, despite these efforts, it is still struggling to get off the ground. “For years, analysts have been predicting that the voice biometrics market would take off, and once again it hasn’t—this time due to the recession,” writes Editorial Assistant Adam Boretz (page 24). “However, analysts remain optimistic, especially given the recent rise of hosted services within the speech security space and their ability to significantly reduce costs.”
It remains to be seen whether the industry will be as drastically affected by the economy next year. What is certain, though, is that the vendors that can best respond to changing market conditions will have a better chance of survival.
Once again, Speech Technology magazine won several awards of its own. This year marks the first time the magazine won a prestigious ASBPE (American Society of Business Publication Editors) award, and in grand fashion we won five of them—two national awards and three regional awards. Senior Designer Laura Hegyi won a national Gold award—the highest in the land—for Front Cover Design (“Emotional Mess,” October 2008), and Managing Editor Leonard Klie won a national Bronze award for How-to Article (“Don’t Spend It All at Once,” March 2008). In addition, we won one TABPI (Trade, Association, and Business Publications International) and three APEX (Awards for Publication Excellence) awards, for a total of nine awards. It is an honor to be recognized for editorial and design excellence by respected industry associations. These awards reflect the hard work and talent our staff delivers to each issue.