Innovation Showcase: 6 Picks for Speech Tech

Suddenly, everyone seems to be speaking to their computers, phones, and new-fangled smart speakers. While any old-school telecom professional well tell you that voice is the most natural way to communicate, it's the exponential improvements in natural language processing that's now making this idea true for technical interfaces as well.

That's why we selected speech technologies as the theme for the Innovation Showcase at Enterprise Connect 2018. Each year the Innovation Showcase serves to introduce new, innovative ideas, products, and companies to attendees, and this year our goal was to select compelling examples of how speech technologies can be used to facilitate and improve enterprise communications.

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We received 18 entries for the Innovation Showcase this year. The solutions were very diverse, though many did target contact center use cases. Our key criteria were focused on speech-related innovations in technology or use, as well as potential value to the business. Myself and my fellow judges, Joseph Williams, ICT sector lead for the State of Washington, and Dan Miller, lead analyst for Opus Research, have selected six companies that have developed highly innovative speech-based applications.

The Innovation Showcase this year recognizes, in alphabetical order:

  • Deepgram Brain -- offers freemium transcription services with very high speech-to-text accuracy and advanced features such as search-by-sound. The solution can run on-premises.
  • Gridspace Sift -- performs automated conversational tasks such as QA, compliance, and customer scoring. The solution can be used for applications such as real-time notification of trending topics and sentiment scores.
  • NewVoiceMedia Conversation Analyzer -- is a speech analytics solution that provides actionable insights from customer conversations. It can create and upload transcripts along with other conversation data directly into the Salesforce CRM.
  • Nuance VocalPassword -- uses a simple passphrase as a biometric password. Users just speak a simple phrase to validate their identity, and organizations can eliminate the hassles and risks associated with traditional passwords.
  • Omilia Conversational Virtual Assistant -- provides a natural experience for self-service across multiple channels, and when implemented, the technology has resulted in significant increases in successful self-service and customer satisfaction.
  • Speechmatics -- offers Batch Virtualized ASR transcription analytics supporting 72 languages. The technology can be embedded in a product, run on-premises, or accessed as a cloud service. Its Automatic Linguist capability enables rapid development and support of new languages.

In evaluating the entries for this year's Showcase, it quickly became apparent to all of us judges that we are on a cusp of a major technical revolution. There are hints of this in the consumer sector with brisk sales of smart speakers and voice-based digital assistants. Amazon sold millions of its Echo devices during just the Black Friday weekend this past November. Amazon and Google together had an estimated U.S. installed base of over 45 million speakers at the end of 2017 -- and it's still a relatively new product category. While these devices tend to get used for simple command and response purposes, the technology is capable of much more, as this year's Showcase participants highlight. In fact, more than half the solutions we evaluated primarily performed passive, analytical services.

The six companies will be presenting in the Enterprise Connect session, "Innovation Showcase: Speech Technologies," on Monday, March 12 at 9:00 a.m. Be sure to check out the session and visit with these spectacular showcase companies, and join me for more on speech tech in the Wednesday afternoon session, (And if you haven't yet registered for Enterprise Connect, register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Regular Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.)

Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.

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