From the December 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Do you use the voice dial feature on your cell phone? If you do, you're in the minority. Jupiter Media Metrix reports that less than 40 percent of wireless phone users express a preference for using automated speech recognition (ASR) systems over touch-tone. The Jupiter report, "Managing the Migration to Speech Systems," advises caution when replacing touch-tone systems with ASR and sees voice access to Web pages as much as two years out.

The level of acceptance differs by consumer segments and will change over time. For example, 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to have used voice dialing or ASR services than adults 55 and older. But oldsters are more likely to favor speech services than other demographics once they've experienced the convenience.

As growing exposure to ASR increases consumer acceptance, customer service systems will be among the first and best uses of speech technology.

But first look at your customers' demographics, implement ASR systems slowly and even outsource them initially, says Seamus McAteer, research fellow and report author. And don't scrap those touch-tone systems when you do.


Mike Hogan is Entrepreneur's technology editor.