Microsoft announced it is going to acquire Nuance Communications for a massive $16B. That is: $16,000,000,000.00. That is a lot of dollars!
This is really, really good news for the entirety of the voice analytics (also known as speech analytics) market. Snowfly has an awesome voice analytics product… if you are looking at how to better understand what conversations your team is having, give us a call. We love to brag about our product and show you how we are better than what you have looked at.
In a perfect world I love the idea of having the only product offering, with no competition, and being the only choice. So why is this Microsoft-announced acquisition good news for us?
Speech Analytics Software is Relatively New
Speech analytics has been a historically hard nut to crack. While sci-fi books and movies have pontificated, even perfected speech analytics for years, it is in practice very difficult to actually do. Even with advancements in hardware and software, the reality of delivering smart, useful, meaningful speech analytics is expensive and hard. Of course, over the coming years we expect to see some serious breakthroughs, but we are hearing about significant problems in this space. Like what, you ask?
I’m glad you asked.
As we talk to smart call centers who understand the game-changing value of speech analytics, and who have talked to other vendors, we consistently hear about three massive problems:
Speech Analytics Software Accuracy
No matter how smart machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cool technology is, today, there are mistakes. We’ve seen this with self-driving technology resulting in accidents. We’ve seen this with smart homes, and even banks and massive (and supposedly protected) web systems being hacked. Technology is cool, of course. We are a tech company. But we know that ones and zeros alone will not deliver the accuracy you need, or expect, from your speech analytics software.
How bad is this problem? We’ve heard from our prospects who are fishing around that some of our competitors proudly boast a 50% or 60% accuracy rate. Look, it’s cool to think that a computer could listen in on our calls and then spit out an analysis, but 50% to 60% is unacceptable. If you make decisions based on 60% accuracy, you will be WRONG four out of ten times. You can’t be confident when you are wrong almost as often as you are right. If you aren’t confident, and you are making so many mistakes, imagine the loss of confidence you’ll get from your team. If they get penalized, or warned, 4 out of 10 times, falsely (false positives impact people’s lives), they will not ever be confident they are doing a good job. Talk about walking on egg shells.
Can you imagine the culture created when you are scored inaccurately half the time? It would be scary and messy.
You might find this hard to believe, so you are just going to have to call us to ask us how we did this, but we have a large customer we have worked with to get accuracy 95% on certain checkpoints (criteria) in their calls. Our overall accuracy with this customer has gotten to 85%. That is only a solid B, but it’s almost twice as good as industry standards. Rest assured that we are actively, aggressively, working towards higher accuracy.
When looking at speech analytics solutions make sure you get real data, over time and customers, of accuracy. Ask how they plan to increase accuracy, how they measure it, and what you can expect as the program matures. If you are looking at low accuracy then take your dollars elsewhere, before you destroy a culture based on garbage-in-garbage-out decision making.
Speech Analytics Software is Historically Very, Very Expensive
Speech analytics is a relatively new space. Because of that we see very large companies that have astronomical, prohibitive cost structures. This might work for massive, deep-pocket customers we aren’t as concerned about accuracy, but for the majority of call centers and sales teams, it’s just impossible to even hope to afford these solutions.
We’re not knocking their business models. They have a product and companies buy their product. That’s fine. Free market and all that. But when small and medium-sized organizations want this level of sophistication but can’t afford it, that’s a problem. And that’s where Snowfly Speech Analytics comes in. We have historically delivered our services to the small and medium sized markets for gamification, incentives, recognition, and performance programs. We understand small and medium sized businesses and know they typically don’t have six and seven figure budgets for something like this.
In other words, we are affordable. We have optimized our services and offerings so you can afford us without having to run to the bank for a loan, and mortgage your houses.
One of the hallmarks of our billing strategy is that we need to earn your continued business. The best way we can do that is to not lock you into a long contract. Our contracts are month-to-month, which means that if you don’t like us you stop paying us. We both walk away… and you are not on the hook for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a product that doesn’t work, that you don’t like, and that no one at your company uses.
We have listened to prospects and customers on our sales calls and learned about what you love and hate about price contracts. We know you need affordable upfront installation fees, reasonable user fees, etc. etc. And we have created a price model to help small and medium sized businesses use this amazing, leading-edge technology. We know you see this as a massive competitive advantage (and it is!), and we just want to get it into your hands.
If you are looking at speech analytics software right now be sure to ask about any of the hidden fees, such as early termination, maintenance fees, custom work fees, consulting fees, etc. These are things that will bite you later, and turn a massive investment into something that is unreasonably unaffordable. You can bet that when you talk to Snowfly you’ll be surprised at how we have optimized our costs to win your business.
Speech Analytics Software has a Dismal Uptime Rate
The other thing we continually hear is that, aside from not being accurate as much as it should, the system is typically unresponsive, or broken. It is down (or offline) too often. We don’t know why this is, but with our customers we have found we have an uptime that surprises them. We thought this was normal, but apparently it isn’t.
We’ve been running gamification and incentives programs for years. These are very mission-sensitive systems because if someone gets a financial reward for a job well-done, they don’t want to hear the system is down. Mess with people’s financial incentives and you’ll hear from them immediately. So we have a robust back end system that we closely monitor to keep online. You might think everyone does this, and it’s just standard in our industry. We thought so too, and that’s why we were surprised to hear other speech analytics programs were offline more than expected.
We’re not going to guess why that is. All we know is we take uptime seriously, and we work hard to have the right environment for your team to actually get to work.
Look, every system will have downtime. We even experience it now and then. But down too often, especially when you have bad accuracy and are locked into long contracts, is just unacceptable. Make sure you ask software analytics vendors what their uptime is, and any information around their uptime. You might even ask for references to ask their customers what they are experiencing.
Want to talk about our uptime? So do we… let’s get together.
Speech Analytics Software Competition
So, back to the acquisition and competition. While we’d prefer there weren’t competition, and everyone had to buy from us, we recognize why competition is healthy. Competition forces competitors to do better. If there was only one vendor that vendor could say “well, this is how it is. Accuracy? No one can do better than us. Uptime? We have the best. Contracts? Sorry, this is all we have to offer.”
When competitors come in they can say “huh, 60% accuracy? We can get to 70%.” And others who say, “70% accuracy? We’ve gotten to 80%!” Each competitor pushes the others to do better, be better. And guess who wins?
YOU DO .
When there is healthy competition the customer wins. Better accuracy. Better uptime. Better pricing and contracts.
That’s why this Microsoft/Nuance acquisition is good for us, and for you. As the speech analytics software industry matures, you’ll see much better products and solutions. Rest assured that Snowfly is on the leading edge and working very hard to deliver better solutions for you.
Want to learn more?