How Uniphore understands, responds to human speech
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Globally, the speech recognition market is estimated to be about $58.4 billion. This market is poised to grow at a tremendous pace considering how speech technology is pervading all things. With the increasing accuracy of speech technology, acceptance is growing exponentially. Further, with the rise of ‘Internet of Things (IOT)’, the push for speech technology will only become greater.
Companies are now flocking towards their next set of customers who are not English speakers but use their native languages and Uniphore is at the helm in this category. This allows Uniphore unparalleled growth opportunities in the foreseeable future.
Headquartered in IIT Madras Research Park, Chennai, Uniphore Software Systems is a speech recognition company, founded by Umesh Sachdev and Ravi Saraogi in 2008. Incubated in IIT Chennai, Uniphore’s aim is to extend the power of speech to revolutionize human-machine interaction and allow any software application to understand and respond to natural human speech.
Offering its solutions as SaaS (Software as a Service) on a subscription model, Uniphone works on building platforms that enables them to communicate with machines in their most preferred mode of communication; i.e. via the spoken word. They currently offer 3 solutions to their users.
1. Speech Analytics (known as auMina): It provides real-time actionable business insights, measuring and continuously improving contact centre agents’ knowledge, demeanor, sales skills and adherence to processes and policies. It helps cut down cost and time dramatically, thereby increasing revenue. auMina supports over 25 Indian and International languages that allow businesses to cater to their audience in their native languages.
2. Virtual Assistant (known as Akeira): It is Uniphore’s (24 x 7) virtual assistant solution for contact centres that allows consumers to ask questions in their vernacular and get the desired answer regardless of many ways the question may be asked. It provides support for more than 25 global languages and more than 150 dialects.
3. Voice Biometrics (known as amVoice): Uniphore’s voice biometric solution, amVoice, assures user authentication by using every individual’s unique voice-prints which are as unique as fingerprints. It even allows for remote verification through any mobile and cuts the identification and verification to less than 15 seconds.
In a tete-a-tete with Entrepreneur India, Umesh Sachdev, Co- founder and CEO, Uniphore Software Systems, shared his entrepreneurial journey and elaborate about its growth and expansion plans across the world.
How the idea of Uniphore was conceptualized?
Speech is the most important mode of human communication. As a species, we like to talk. Any customer service will be seriously hampered if it does not have the voice channel. We envisioned that if automation was truly to become a part of customer engagement, machines should understand process and respond to human speech.
So, we set out to build solutions that would make it happen. As a company we started out 7 years ago, before the advent of the smartphone era, and we focused on using standard phones to allow users to access services. As technology evolved and customer engagement became deeper, our technology also evolved to provide speech analytics, voice biometrics and virtual assistant solutions.
Our solutions have been in constant evolution over the past seven years and the current offerings in the market have been developed is about 18 months.
As this concept is new to Indian consumers, what challenges did you face in terms of taking your product to the market? Did it include convincing people to use your platform among others? How did you overcome these challenges?
We are not a consumer-product company but a B2B player providing services to enterprises. Our technology is new and our biggest challenge lies in the fact that enterprises are hesitant in trying out new offerings. To overcome this we have a three-phase process:
1. Proof of concept: We typically ask enterprises to provide 30-50 hours of recorded conversation and process it for free on our cloud and show them the result. This allows enterprises to see how we are able to use their data, process it and show them the results.
2. Pilot: Once they are convinced that the solutions work, they want to see it in real action. Here we do a pilot on a smaller scale which usually last for 1 to 2 months. We use live data that is streamed though our solutions and enterprises are able to use our product to deliver the results for their consumers.
3. Once the enterprises have witnessed the value that our solutions can add to their businesses on a day-to-day basis, the pilot moves on to a full-scale deployment mode.
Currently you are dealing in sectors like banking, agriculture and others. So are you planning to deal in another sector also?
The solutions we offer cater to contact centres across verticals. Financial services, travel and tourism, telecommunication, stock trading companies and e-commerce are some sectors Uniphore is currently involved in.
And, your current traction is…
Today, we have over 70 enterprise customers and more than 4 million end users. In Q2 of FY16, auMina, our flagship speech analytics product has witnessed exponential market traction with as many as 6 pilots underway across the country that is likely turn into full-scale deployment very soon. We have also received appreciation for our products across Philippines and UAE.
What are your growth and expansion plans?
We plan to expand to US very soon. We have recently appointed Douglas Peris as our General Manager-Asia Pacific & Middle East for further expansion in the region. Further, we have recently opened a new office in Bengaluru and plan to add around a 100 people in the next 15 months.