Voice Buzz has a useful interview with Michael Zirngibl, head of Angel.com that provides a voice site platform. Two issues are worth quoting for the language technology business:
The first is about going beyond the ‘technology’ word:
The biggest ‘competitor’ for any player in the speech market is non-consumption. We need to start a “buzz about Voice” and get people understanding what it can do for any business. With Angel, we want the customer to think “Voice Sites” instead of “Speech Applications.” As soon as businesses start to realize that they can use voice technology to improve, enhance or extend most of the things they currently do with their website, we will be a lot closer to a “Speech Revolution.”
The second is about educating customers:
“One of the biggest challenges in the voice business remains educating customers on a broader scale.
A lot of companies in the space continue to focus their efforts on targeting a very niche group of decision-makers, thus limiting the buy-in speech applications can receive throughout an entire organization. At Angel.com we focus on the business benefits of the resulting applications, which makes us much more attractive to decision makers outside the traditional call center space. In fact, most of our best customer wins come from savvy business buyers in Marketing, HR, or other “traditionally non IVR buying” departments.
The education challenge is one we believe can also be solved in part through better distribution channels to small-to-mid size enterprises. While we hear a lot in the mainstream press about the huge deployments, this is not what the industry needs in order to gain critical mass. The industry needs a way to reach the customers that might not even be considering speech technology right now, which is why one major focus of Angel.com in 2005 will be distribution.”
The need to educate customers would appear to be true for the language technology sector in general. One notable effort is the NOTaS (Ditch Organisation for Language and Speech Technoloogy) effort under way in Holland, and pioneered by Geert Kobus of Knowledge Concepts, who died tragically earlier this year.