The New York Times was first (I think) with a story about Google’s upcoming voice search service. The first product will work with Apple’s iPhone. Sometimes consumer tech products are not that big a deal for businesses, but this one matters.
In the last several years all the major vendors have jumped into unified communications in a big way. Cisco, Microsoft, IBM are only some of the vendors touting the capabilities of combining voice, email, IM and other essential corporate applications in one unified product. In unified communications a worker can have access to their essential applications whether on the road or in the office. Nice idea, but slow to gain traction. Turf wars (I’m the phone guy, you’re the computer guy), a dearth of UC developers, security concerns and the lack of unified search all have played into the business growing slower than the vendor hoped.
One of the big missing pieces has been voice-based search. Probably no one has talked about the need to combine voice recognition and personal computing more than Bill Gates. Bill, we are still waiting for Microsoft to deliver a viable product here. IBM was an early voice recognition leader. The main contact most consumers have with voice recognition are those incredibly annoying voice systems for airline reservations and such.
Voice search can be a game changer in unified communications. Business applications tend to be available only to a distinct set of employees which makes voice recognition a whole lot easier as you can train systems to a limited number of users. In fact, voice can make systems more secure as the system can recognize and authorized user.
If Google has actually cracked the voice-based search code, this is a big leap forward for them and a point of embarrassment for the other vendors. This is one service CIOs should pay attention to and get their development teams testing.