I like market reviews, where a number of vendors are compared to one another and the best is selected for a specific category. I like them even better when I respect the people involved in the reviewing process. This is the case with the Service Leaders leader board published by CRM Magazine in March 2013.(article) The categories are well structured, the scoring mechanism well defined and some of the reviewers include: Esteban Kolsky, Principal and Founder of ThinkJar; Michael Moaz, VP and Distinguished Analyst with Gartner and John Ragsdale, VP of Technology Research with TSIA. All people I know personally and respect. I paid particular attention to the Web Support piece. Right from the get go Judith Aquino, Associate Editor with CRM Magazine reported three prominent aspects of Web Support:
- The need to deliver support across multiple channels and devices.
- The importance of deploying a platform that doesn’t require customers to repeat themselves.
- The expectation that voice enabled virtual agents will become a major aspect of Web Support.
The last point resonates with me since noHold has been creating Virtual Agents for the last decade for some of the biggest companies in the world. I must admit that up until a few years ago I was skeptical of the quality of Voice Recognition Technology, but the vendors in this space have made dramatic breakthroughs. In fact, I think that the technologies are coming together to create real world applications
- The pervasive distribution of mobile devices.
- The availability of Virtual Agents that not only include a Natural Language Processor (NLP), but also an Inference Engine (IE) that can mimic human interaction.
- The availability of Speech Recognition Technology that is both speaker independent and can handle continuous speech.
It is at the intersection of these three technologies that we will see the birth of new voice enabled virtual agents. All I hope for is that they will be able to understand my thick Italian accent, because now, every time I ask Siri to schedule an appointment, she asks me if I want to know where the closest Starbucks is.
Diego Ventura, CEO, noHold, Inc.