Nuance Analyst Day - Broadening the Conversation

Apr 13, 2015

When I started working with Nuance around 1993 or 1994 I thought adding speech recognition to IVRs and creating grammars so that we would allow users to easily input alphanumeric data was State of the Art.  If I remember correctly it was Charles Schwab that first helped Nuance push the window on this one, but I could be wrong.  Speech recognition, and its sister – text-to-speech, solved a huge problem for providing self-service.  Name and address capture, alphanumeric product codes, stock quotes, and even looking up restaurant names became possible.

Attending Nuance’s West Coast analyst day on Friday made this seem so long ago and commonplace.  On Friday, we talked about intelligent virtual assistants, accelerating adoption of voice biometrics, proactive customer engagement and connected conversations, and conversational IVR and artificial intelligence.  We talked about defining the next generation of human-computer interaction – intelligent systems that help create effortless and seamless user experiences.

Nuance has come a long way since the 90’s, with some big numbers to show for it.  Last year Nuance facilitated 12 billion mobile cloud transactions.  The company now has 2000 speech and language scientists, 4300 patents and applications, and supports 85 speech recognition languages and 45 text-to-speech languages in 65 countries.  Its mobile division ships 800 million mobile keyboards annually, and has 20,000 application developers using the products.  And for Telematics, 110 million voice-enabled vehicles are shipped annually using Nuance technology.  

There is a totally different feel to a conversation when you move from being wowed by individual features and move to not just what is possible, but how customers are helping to come up with what is possible.  There is still the “wow, this is pretty cool” appeal to it. But the tenor is different.  It is very heartening to see the likes of big brand names really effectively using virtual assistants, for example, to allow customers to do things quicker and more effectively, rather than let’s see if we can automate something to save money (although that is still a really good idea as well). Brands such as BMW Financial, Delta, T-Mobile, ING Bank, and Time Warner Cable, for instance, are doing creative things with assets across Nuance, from speech technologies, to mobile apps.

Dominos Pizza, is a great example of this.  The company created Nina virtual assistant mobile app, “Dom”, that allows customers to order pizzas and other food items.  Sounds simple, but with over 1000 possible combinations, Dominos wanted to make it easy and fast for customers to place and track an order. The results were compelling with a 43% reduction in the time it took to place an order over other apps, 57% less steps, and a 4.5% upsell rate. The last was attributable mainly to the fact that happier customers tend to order more if asked.  Dominos also saw a 33% increase in NPS.

That was just one of many customer applications we heard about for voice, and Nina Web is getting a lot of traction and some stellar results as well. It’s worth checking out.

Nancy Jamison


Nancy Jamison is a Principal Analyst within Customer Contact within the Digital Transformation group at Frost & Sullivan. She covers all aspects of customer contact including cloud and premise-based systems and applications in the core areas of inbound/outbound routing, IVR, Workforce Optimization, and recording and analytics, with a particular focus on peripheral and emerging areas that impact the Customer Experience. These include speech technologies, omni-channel customer care, Big Data, digital marketing, Back Office Workforce Optimization, and Support Interaction Optimization.

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