The voicemail transcription market otherwise known as voicemail to text is showing no signs of slowing down. I have written about this space a few times (Voicemail Transcription, Vonage Voicemail Transcription, SpinVox) in the past and I think it has tremendous potential for growth.
One of the companies in this space which I have been aware of for months but haven’t had a chance to cover is SimulScribe. I recently interviewed the company’s CEO James Siminoff who is 30 years old and has already launched a successful prepaid calling card business prior to launching SimulScribe.
As it turns out – a while back, he was having a casual conversation with his calling card business partner and the partner’s son and the topic of voicemail came up. The thought was, wouldn’t it be great if you read your voicemail instead of listening to it.
Shortly thereafter the company developed a system to handle this task and used it internally. Then it was rolled out to a few friends and family members. It was a fun side project. In late 2005 the company decided to focus on voicemail transcription as a business model and SimulScribe was born.
James tells me his service is the only one which has been rolled out by a major carrier – Vonage and can actually be billed by the carrier. The main competitor to SimulScribe is SpinVox and James was so complimentary to SpinVox it is tough to believe the companies are competitors.
In our discussion it seemed apparent that in a market with billions of potential customers, there is likely enough room for not only two players but many more. You may recall I am aware of a major software company who will roll out voicemail transcription software soon but I am bound by a verbal handshake not to share the name of the company.
Major players notwithstanding, SimulScribe wants to be the number one or two player in the space.
Other SimulScribe service provider customers are M5 and FreedomVoice. The company is in some stage of discussions with over 33 carriers globally. Moreover, they don’t announce service provider wins until they are deployed.
We touched on the topic of the accuracy of speaker independent speech recognition and James graciously explained the technology in their service is something they don’t disclose. Having said that, many in the industry have asserted the level of accuracy these services have achieved are impossible without some human intervention.
Really the concern here boils down to security (otherwise who really cares about the secret sauce behind such services) and if there are people listening to your voicemails perhaps there is a security risk.
One point James made is if you are concerned about security you may not want to look at a voicemail transcription services as e-mail is less secure than voicemail. He is not talking about the security in either his service or the competition (he says the security in his company’s service is first-rate) but what he means is the security of e-mail in general.
This service offers the same level of security as e-mail he says. Whatever you feel comfortable doing with your e-mail you can do with their service as well.
The point here is voicemails are now able to be archived meaning they can be brought into court cases as evidence. This is something which is likely not that easy to do with voicemail.
On a positive note he points out this service can simply bring unified communications into a company with virtually pain or investment. The ability to see voicemail and respond to voicemail with IM or e-mail really increases productivity.
James makes a point that SimulScribe is different than SpinVox because it is the most flexible service from a delivery standpoint. There is an application called SimulSays which features a GUI which sits on a Blackberry and soon Windows Mobile devices. The application stores the transcribed text with the voice file allowing you to listen to messages without using network minutes. You can also listen on an airplane or where there is no cellular access.
He says there will be even more devices supported soon.
You can choose the format of voice file you want sent from WAV, MP3 or WMA. In addition there is a web interface allowing control over your messages. You can delete them, etc.
Currently the competition is not doing this.
James says they have this flexibility in their service because they were users of their own product for some time and they built the features they needed before they rolled it out to others.
The company says their service can save you three hours a month and I have no doubt that a busy executive can see savings in this range. This also correlates with my own experience using SpinVox. But more importantly voicemail transcription allows you to be on a call and read voicemails from other callers while you are still on the phone. In addition you can archive your voicemails allowing you to search for that useful nugget of information stored in a 3-minute voicemail form 18 months in the past.
I can tell you from months of personal experience that using voicemail transcription is a liberating experience and one you can’t easily stop using once you become accustomed. Regardless of which service you use, I suggest you try voicemail transcription for yourself if you are interested in saving time and becoming more productive.