• February 10, 2010
  • By Donna Fluss, president, DMG Consulting

Speaking of Customer Insights

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Against all odds and despite the worldwide economic recession, the speech analytics market outperformed the great majority of contact center and information technology segments during 2008, and appeared headed for similarly stellar results in 2009. 

The speech analytics market had its fifth consecutive year of strong growth in 2008, with 1,764 commercial implementations at the end of that year, up from 25 at the end of 2004. Despite the recession, the contact center speech analytics market’s five-year compound annual growth rate was 190 percent; 522 net new solutions were implemented during 2008, fueling a 42 percent year-over-year increase. Within the next five to seven years, 25 percent to 30 percent of all contact center seats will have speech analytics. 

Far-Reaching Benefits for the Entire Enterprise

The rapid adoption of speech analytics is not a fluke. The software, also known as audio mining, transforms unstructured conversations into structured output, which is turned into metadata. The output files can be analyzed and used by the enterprise to provide quantifiable benefits: improved productivity, reduced operating expenses, and increased revenue. 

Speech analytics can also help identify at-risk customers, reduce attrition, and provide an outstanding customer experience. Building upon this value proposition, a responsive group of vendors is listening to customers and delivering practical, well-packaged, and increasingly actionable solutions. 

Market Competitors

Sixteen vendors currently offer speech analytics solutions (with five more in the process of rolling out initial offerings). Seven of these 16 vendors are using a partner’s technology, but the rest have built the majority of their own solutions. Of these nine, all but two offer speech analytics either on a standalone basis or as part of a suite: Autonomy etalk, Aurix Limited, CallMiner, Nexidia, NICE Systems, UTOPY, and Verint Systems. The other two vendors—BBN Technologies (the acquisition of which by Raytheon closed in October 2009) and eLoyalty—each offer an analytical suite that uses speech analytics. 

Other application providers are expected to enter this market, as are additional partners and resellers. In future years, expect to see vendors of enterprise resource planning software enter this sector, as speech analytics is truly an enterprise application. 

Market Maturity

The speech analytics market, vendors, and products are maturing at a relatively rapid rate. While there is a great deal of ongoing investment and innovation, this is not a commoditized market, nor is it likely to become one in the next three years. Speech analytics remains a visionaries’ market in which the leading competitors have each built a unique solution based on a specific view of what speech analytics should do. 

This creates both opportunities and challenges for those making a vendor selection. The opportunity is a reflection of the tremendous amount of creativity and innovation being built into many of the speech analytics products. The challenge is that, because the vendors have not been striving for functional parity, many of the solutions are weak in important areas such as reporting. Furthermore, these solutions could be made easier to implement and manage, enabling them to deliver relevant results more rapidly without tuning or ongoing manual effort; improve standard and ad hoc reporting; provide more preconfigured horizontal and vertical packages; and so on. And, of course, all users would like to see a reduction in price and in time-to-implement.

Who Owns Speech Analytics?

As speech analytics increases in popularity, the debate grows with regard to which department in the organization should own the application. If your enterprise does not yet have a group responsible for customer analytics, it’s time to create one, even if the “group” involves just one person. 

This group should be responsible for customer analytics—not the enterprise data warehouse—and for speech analytics as well. However, for this group to succeed it needs to be positioned to influence and drive change in other departments throughout the company. The group that manages the speech analytics solution and other customer-centric analytic applications should be evaluated on its ability to rapidly identify and communicate useful and important findings in order to effect change throughout the enterprise. 

The Future 

The outlook for speech analytics during the next few years is extremely positive. Users should expect to see significant product enhancements that will help them address new opportunities and realize greater benefits from existing investments. Solutions will become more targeted, easier to implement, and attached to a lower price tag. 

Within six to 10 years, speech and interaction analytics will become mission-critical enterprise applications. What will make these solutions unique is that they will contribute to the majority of an enterprise’s operating and business groups, benefiting any unit concerned with the topics that customers call or write to discuss. This is extremely broad and encompasses the company’s brand, image, retention, sales and marketing strategies and programs, publicly known policies, internal procedures, stewardship of the customer experience, product and service quality, and much more. 

For further information, see the 2009–2010 Speech Analytics Market Report at www.dmgconsult.com. The 400-page vendor, product, and market guide will help managers differentiate between the solutions so that they can pick the right offering for their companies, at the right price.  

Donna Fluss (donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com) is founder and president of DMG Consulting, a leading provider of contact center and analytics research, market analysis, and consulting.

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