Finding Your Voice

We’ve been using key-based commands to operate technology for several decades. However, in the past few years, we’ve finally been able to make commands to some technologies with just the sound of our on voices

The human voice is a powerful thing. Sure, the spoken word is our most common means of communication, but these days it’s giving us a bit more. Think about your daily routine, and the tasks you ask of others in straightforward, clear commands (we politely call them “requests”). Now think about how we speak with the technology that surrounds us. That’s right. How do you speak with technology?

We’ve been using key-based commands to operate technology for several decades. However, in the past few years, we’ve finally been able to make commands to some technologies with just the sound of our on voices. For me, the most common experience sounds like this:

Me: “Dial by number.”

Car: “Say the number.”

Me: “631-555-1212.”

Car: “631-555-1212.”

Me: “Dial.”

Car: “Dialing.”

I couldn’t wait to finally get a car that could connect with my phone so I could get high-quality, hands-free voice. I had been the route of using my phone in speakerphone mode and then tried the Bluetooth speakerphone, but neither delivered what I had hoped. Finally, when I was selecting a new car, I not only was able to use voice commands to place the call, but to configure the system. It took me a few steps to get through the hurdles of an evolving technology, but it eventually became easy to use, inexpensive to implement, and high quality.

In the consumer world, voice is showing up in more ways and especially in our mobile phones. What have you asked Siri to do? Apple’s well-marketed voice command utility for the iPhone demonstrates some of the potential. Even beyond Siri, voice solutions abound on the device. My preference is to use the microphone button on the iPhoneís keyboard to dictate my responses to the texts I receive. This gets me out of trying to thumb type and is a quick, convenient way to respond. It’s speech to text in a basic, consumer application.

In the enterprise, voice is enabling employees in a mission-critical work environment to expedite data capture while ensuring both worker safety and information accuracy. Just like my quest for an optimal hands-free system in my car, businesses have had to work through the evolutionary stages of voice solutions. There was the early stage where voice recognition engines weren’t very robust and often struggled with various accents. That phase was replaced by a longer period where voice recognition engines began to improve, but deploying a voice solution required expensive, proprietary hardware and middleware integration.

During this phase of the evolution, voice system providers were forced into the role of application developer. Their middleware was so intertwined with the operation of the overall application (WMS, etc.) that whenever the business needed to change their operations process or make any other changes to their application, they’d need the involvement of their voice solution provider. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group released in early 2012, having to engage the voice provider in these modifications would cause delays in the implementation of changes. A combined 79% of Aberdeenís voice user respondents indicated that they would either delay changes until a sizable batch could be implemented at once to justify the ROI (42%), or they would ultimately decide not to make any changes because the cost to have the vendor make the changes was too high (37%). To summarize, these businesses were either delaying or outright declining improvements to day-to-day operations because of a single provider in their solution. Each day, they were losing efficiency because their voice solution was inflexible. Clearly, there has to be further evolution in this market.

Incorporating voice technology into mission-critical applications is becoming easier. Thirty-five percent of the respondents in Aberdeenís study expressed their desire to get away from expensive, proprietary voice devices. Voice is entering the next generation, where it can simply sit atop of an existing application and disengaging the voice provider from application changes. No longer is expensive middleware and proprietary hardware required. Businesses can now adopt voice the way they imagined:

  • Simple to use
  • Easy to deploy
  • Great performance
  • Available on a wide variety of mobile computing devices

Like the voice commands I can use to setup and dial my phone from my car, voice-enabling mission-critical business application has finally become a satisfying experience. If your company is ready to get out of a proprietary voice solution, or if you’ve looked at voice in the past and found it to be too expensive, we encourage you to look again. Our Wavelink Speakeasy voice technology is all about removing the complexity from voice applications. Best of all, many customers are able to have their Speakeasy systems up and running in 30-days.

Learn more about Speakeasy technology and learn how voice technology can benefit your organization.

Note: This post was originally created by Rob DeStefano on the LANDesk Blog, which you can visit here.

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