What do CNN, Jon Stewart and SpeechTEK have in common?


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SpeechTEK 2013 in NYCSpeechTEK 2013 in NYCSpeechTEK 2013 in NYC last week was, as usual, mostly vendors and design and best practice professionals.

Lumenvox, Cyara, Emperix, Voxeo and Genesys had their usual strong presence at the show. Noticeably absent (no booth, no sponsored events) were…well, let’s just leave it there.

The conference sessions covered many of the usual topics including Mobile, Speech, TTS, Customer Experience, Analytics, Sentiment Analysis and Multi-Channel Engagement. There was a noticeable emphasis on Multi-Channel, even more than in previous years – these vendors and conference sessions drew the largest audiences. Emphasis was also on improved NLU, conversational dialogues, advanced VUI design, TTS with emotion/natural sounding audio, sentiment analysis and behavioral and data analysis. My Contact Solutions session on “Making the Best Use of Behavioral Analytics” drew a fairly healthy audience, mostly business side Financial Services, Health Services and IT Professionals. The session covered how using Adaptive Solutions to monitor caller behavior enhances CX and provides insight into where and why callers struggle when calling customer service.

Having attended SpeechTEK for over ten years now, it is always interesting to me to see how changes in the industry are reflected in the the Exhibit Hall floor. Gone are the days when industry giants, looking to hawk their wares on an unsuspecting audience, try to tell us we are all about to engage in HAL 2001 like conversations with Customer Service. Gone too are perceptions that DTMF is just marginally effective, old school technology and Speech is a panacea for all things IVR related. NLU is perceived with more realism and a healthy respect for such things as Theory of Mind, Caller Preference and Caller Environment. And even the Speech proponents admit that DTMF is the preferred input modality for many interaction points in an application. After all, who wants to speak their PIN while waiting in a crowded boarding area for a flight that has been delayed? And trying to enter a credit card number on your iPhone using Speech while walking down Broadway to go to SpeechTEK? If the horn’s on the taxi cabs don’t get you, the ambulance sirens will. I know. I live here.

Yes, attending SpeechTEK is a bit like watching Jon Stewart comment on CNN’s political reporters in the aftermath of an election campaign. You can’t escape the reality of the Exhibit Floor anymore than you can the reality of election predictions that are forever preserved in embarrassing video clips that keep resurfacing on Youtube and Comedy Central.

What are your thoughts on what the SpeechTEK 2020 Exhibit Floor will look like? I’m always interested to see how our predictions hold up several years out.

Daniel O'Sullivan
CEO, innovator and technologist in software engineering and product development. Created and implemented Adaptive Technology and Fastrack Software products that have optimized over 1.5 Billion self-service phone calls worldwide and saved clients over $100M to date. Electrical Engineering undergrad with a Masters in Computer Science. Lucent/Bell Labs alumni. Winner of worldwide eco-design project and received several patents. Currently CEO of Software Technology Partners.Focus: Business Development, Technology Partnering, Mobile, Web and Cloud Technologies and Human-Computer Interaction.


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