Analysts view Nuance Communications as a pure-play speech recognition leader in terms of its engine and Internet Protocol. "Nuance products have created the potential for a wider audience of business [es] to leverage the benefits of mobile speech recognition," one analyst says. "The downside in the mobile sense is that Nuance does not have the mobile industry clout that Google has, and its products and applications [have] not deeply integrated into the mobile user interface the way that Google, Apple, and [to a lesser extent] Microsoft have done."
Google has proved popular with both users and analysts. Google, and its Android operating system, is a clear winner in this space, taking top honors five years in a row. Analysts praised its cloud services, deeming it among the most powerful networks in the market. "Google's response times tend to be faster to a mobile device than on an Apple iOS or Windows phone device," one analyst says. "Additionally, Google has what was at the time the leading software engines built into Android, and handset manufacturers such as Samsung have taken this base to deliver ever more powerful and user-friendly features to make using speech recognition more accessible. Android/ Google has delivered a mobile platform that best enables speech recognition innovation for device OEMs. Google's cloud-based engine has the industry's best and largest opportunity to collect and analyze speech requests to deliver the best engine tuning opportunities." -Michele Masterson
AT&T's and Nuance Communications' overall speech engine features tie for this spot, analysts say.
AT&T made a splash in April when it signed a deal with Interactions. The company is using the Watson speech engine to power its speech-enabled virtual assistants for enterprises with customer care needs. AT&T is focusing on its Watsonenabled speech APIs, which developers can use to create apps and services with voice recognition and transcription capabilities.
Nuance made a slew of upgrades to products in voice biometrics with Nina, its virtual assistant app for mobile customer service, and in healthcare with its Dragon Medical Practice Edition. It expanded its automotive speech offerings and acquired Tweddle Connect, an application and content service delivery platform for in-car infotainment systems.
Cisco Systems, which last year was a Vendor Contender as well, stays ahead of the curve on the strength of its customer satisfaction (4.2), depth of functionality (4.0), and variety of delivery methods (4.0). Paul Stockford, principal analyst at Saddletree Research, says Cisco "continues to demonstrate its commitment to the contact center market through the functionality of its solutions," and called its speech self-service "exceptionally accurate and user-friendly."
7 finished a fraction of a point behind the leaders. Its score of 4.3 for ability to customize was the highest among all vendors. The company also scored high in depth of functionality (4.0) and customer satisfaction (3.9). It launched a visual speech product that extends multimodal interactions to smartphones, and introduced an innovative outcome-based pricing policy.
Israel-based NICE Systems garnered high marks, especially for its depth of functionality and accuracy. NICE has expanded its offerings in the compliance arena with products such as its Proactive Compliance Suite for Consumer Protection, which integrates speech and desktop analytics to help financial institutions comply with regulations and the audit process.
Sykes, another industry Leader last year, fell down to vendor contender this year, with a lackluster score of 3.3 in customer satisfaction. On a positive note, it did score highly (4.0) in its ability to execute and cost. Like Teleperformance, Sykes, a company on pace to bring in $1.2 billion in revenue this year, has very capable operations in 20 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Ragsdale calls it "a high-quality provider."
Microsoft made strides this year by making Bings voice search and voice-to-text twice as fast and 15 percent more accurate on Windows Phone 8. However, at least one analyst believes that Microsoft has a problem with industry recognition and would do well to improve marketing and packaging issues. "After being ostensibly ahead with Tellme and then Bing Mobile, Microsoft's mobile speech initiatives have been invisible," the analyst says. "Google has played up the power of voice input in conjunction with Google Now and mobile search. Nuance and Apple have various speech-enabled personal virtual assistant initiatives, but Microsoft not so much."