Musings on personal and enterprise technology (of potential interest to professional technoids and others)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A new spin on voice mail - Financial Post 2007/12/12

An interesting form of cellphone-centric unified messaging... What a nice way to avoid wasting time listening to my latest voicemail message from unsolicited vendor number 361 received so far this month ;-)

Some interesting potential benefits from storing and searching the transcribed voice messages... (also implicitly raising the generic issues about storage / capacity / archiving etc. relevant for any unified messaging architecture, and clearly part of the overall ROI)...

IMHO the service sounds good, subject to a couple of caveats... But the price still seems a bit steep(?)

A new spin on voice mail: "...Rogers Wireless is looking to make returning calls slightly faster and easier, with a new voice-to-text messaging service the company unveiled yesterday.

For the price of $15 per month, Rogers will be able to take any English or French phone message you might have missed and process it using automated software powered by SpinVox, a U.K.-based firm, that transcribes it to a text message and sends it to your cellphone or other wireless device.

Irv Witte, Rogers Wireless vice-president of business marketing, says the service is aimed at the mobile user who experiences anywhere between 60 to 100 voice mails each month. He also tried to put aside fears about how accurate the service may be, citing that SpinVox is able to convert upwards of 90% of all speech into legible text.

'We've had several hundred people testing this out and have had no complaints about accuracy at all,' Mr. Witte said. 'It's almost frightening how good it is at translating.' The service is available in only seven provinces right away, but Rogers plans to launch the service in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba early next year. A potential drawback is not getting the entire message. According to an IBM-funded research study, the average voice mail lasts about 31 seconds, longer than the 18 seconds maximum for the SpinVox service.

That may leave the door open for New York-based Simulscribe Inc. to make its own splash in the Canadian market. James Siminoff, chief executive, says Simulscribe will be launching its own voice-to-data service today with a competing plan that offers Canadians on any cellphone plan unlimited message transcriptions regardless of how long as the voice mail lasts for $30 per month.

'Rich, poor, no matter who you are in the workforce, everybody needs to have voice mail', Mr. Siminoff said.

As Eamon Hoey, senior partner at Hoey Associates Management Consultants Inc., puts it, voice mail is just another technology whose innovation is driven by the need for more time..."

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