Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Speech analytics in the contact center - what's driving adoption rates?

Ok, so many analysts have been talking about the growth rate of speech analytics continuing to accelerate through 2008 and beyond. While I will concede this is a reasonable prediction for this technology, the reality is that, while more and more companies are budgeting for, evaluating and even purchasing these technologies, the adoption of these solutions into core customer business practices, and more importantly the quantifiable business benefits delivered tell a story of fuzzy results and an ever-denser fog through which to see potential measurable results.

Over a series of posts on this topic, its my goal to offer insight from experiences working with over 100 clients, my view of effective and not so effective approaches and hopefully some practical remedies that can be applied to your business today.

I’m not going to spend time here revisiting the history of the world of speech analysis or take some dive into the weeds on the technology. If the title of this article resonated with you, I assume you’ve done your homework and have probably struggled with some of these same issues during a recent project. Or, you’ve postponed such a project because cracking the code on this technology has been too elusive to provide a level of confidence in moving forward. No. My mostly benevolent, and maybe a tiny bit self-serving, objective here is to share my experiences and opinions I’ve refined over the past five years working with these solutions.

If you want more details on the technology, there are plenty of sources out in cyberspace for all the facts and figurers, bits and bites you want; if you’re into that sort of thing. Do you’re research and then pick this back up and read through it before you make your next move.

Some of the headings under which the adoption rate of these solutions fall include:

-Value realized by early adopters
-Once bitten, twice shy
-Overwhelmed quality management functions
-The hype cycle - oversold rudimentary capabilities
-The “Toy in the Happy Meal® Syndrome”
-Fuzzy ROI
-Best Practices
-Managing organizational change

As this series progresses, we'll tackle each of these, individually and as they potentially influence eachother, in combination. I hope this series of posts stimulates others to contribute their experiences. I look forward to our journey.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Speech Technologies Seminar 2008

The Speech Technologies Group at the IBM Haifa Research Lab (HRL) invites speech professionals to a full-day seminar on Speech Technologies, to be held on Wednesday, July 2, 2008.

This full-day seminar provides a forum for the research and development communities from both academia and industry to share their work, exchange ideas, and discuss issues, problems, and work-in-progress, as well as future research directions and trends. The seminar agenda will be posted at a later date. It will include frontal presentations and a poster session.

The seminar will take place at the HRL site on the Haifa University campus, in the auditorium (room L100). Lunch and light refreshments will be served. Participation is free.

See http://www.haifa.il.ibm.com/Workshops/speech2008/index.shtml for detail.

09:00 Registration

09:30 Opening Remarks
Oded Cohn, Director, IBM Haifa Research Lab

09:45 Challenges of Speech Solutions in Call Centers
Nava Shaked, Manager, CRM & Call Center, IBM Israel

10:15 Actionable Intelligence via Speech Analytics
Ofer Shochet, Senior VP, VERINT

10:45 Discriminative Keyword Spotting
Joseph Keshet, IDIAP

11:15 Break

11:30 Recent Advances in Speech Dereverberation
Emanuel Habets, Bar-Ilan University & Technion

12:00 On Improving the Quality of Small Footprint Concatenated Text-to-Speech Synthesis Systems
David Malah, Head of Signal Processing Lab, Technion
12:30 Keynote. Superhuman Speech Recognition: Technology Challenges and Market Adoption
David Nahamoo, Speech CTO and Business Strategist, IBM Watson Research Center

13:30 Lunch

14:30 Using Speech Processing Technologies in Audio Search Applications
Ido Itzhaki, Director, Business Development, NSC

15:00 Intra-class Variability Modeling for Speech Processing
Hagai Aronowitz, IBM Haifa Research Lab

15:30 Retrieving Spoken Information by Combining Multiple Speech Transcription Methods
Jonathan Mamou, IBM Haifa Research Lab

16:00 Poster Session & Refreshments

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Voicemail to SMS pricing is going down.

In a recent post, I demonstrated that voicemail to text business maybe extremely profitable.
Recently, SpinVox published new pricing offered to Cincinnati Bell Wireless customers. An unlimited number of voice-to-text conversions now cost just $5.99 per month. As for most people unlimited is ~1.2 voicemails per day, this new pricing imply a nice profit to SpinVox and at the same time is going to the comfort zone of SMBs. SpinVox is smart enough to post a study about users habits with a focus on Telco's revenues:
  • Carriers are reporting a 33% uplift in Voicemail deposits, as the calling party knows their message will be seen in minutes.
  • 87% of people return a SpinVox message, which is driving a 10% uplift in voice and 15% in text.
  • This is all equating to a 110% uplift in the voice message revenue line.
Based on these parameters, no wonder that the Telco's are interested in this service and will be willing to fund some of it.