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Q&A with Dan Miller, Opus Research, on the development of the Voice Biomerics markets within the next five years

Voice Biometrie ist ein vielversprechendes Anwendungsfeld für Sprachtechnologie. Um herauszufinden, wo dieser Markt gegenwärtig steht und wohin er sich entwickeln wird, sprach VOICE Community mit Dan Miller, Senior Analyst, Opu Research, der nächste Woche einen Marktreport zu eben diesem Thema veröffentlichen wird und exklusiv in der VOICE Community einen kleinen Einblick in die Ergebnisse dieser brandneuen Studie gibt.

What are the current developments in the Voice Biometrics Market in terms of technology and market?

We are publishing a new report next week on what?s happening in the voice biometrics marketplace. So here is a snap shot of what we think the major processes shaping this market are right now:

There is evidence that now for the first time voice biometrics is becoming a market. There has been a lot of activity, a lot of analysis in governmental and financial services circles on voice biometrics both for internal use, for security and access control, and increasingly for customer facing applications. So the expectancy for the coming year is seen in the internal sector, i.e. in the roll-out of authentication of access for employees and password reset and alikes. But there is also a development in the customer facing sphere now. Companies are adding voice biometrics as the second or third factor in multifactor authentication trough contact centers. Part of what?s driving that are regulations in North America that require banks to strengthen their online banking and their contact center or telephone based operations.
Another driver we believe is going to be increased support of mobile users. Inside companies mobile phones are used increasingly to gain access or to give access to internal information like customer files. And of course mobile payment will be a big driver like we see now with that big enrollment in UK.

The first factor that is driving internal as well as customer facing deployments is a better integration of voice biometrics with existing security infrastructures. One example would be the customer facing application here at KBN Amro, Bank of Scotland or Barclay Bank. It is really leveraging their investments that have been made in smart cards and security by reaching out to the customer via voice biometrics backing on existing security infrastructure.

What are the most important maket drivers?

There are three standard drivers. You know the industries are growing increasingly security conscious on behalf of their customers. And their customers are getting increasingly concerned about identity theft, unauthorized use of their credit cards etc. So security is a big driver, but that has already existed.

What we think is intervening now is combining high levels of security with high levels of security. In a phone based environment there is evidence that a voice print is regarded by users as most convenient. One of the examples we have been using is in Canada: A subsidiary of Bell Canada who is doing the air travel mileage programs has invited its customers to leave a voice print when they are calling in so that they can be served more conveniently and they are finding that not the expected fifty to sixty percent of the customers are enrolling but more than eighty percent of the callers do understand that when they call in somewhere regularly that leaving a voice print adds a lot to the convenience of the voice service.

In our conference a couple of months ago an IT and a customer service person from Bell Canada discussed their use of voice biometrics as resources to streamline their calls to a single customer service line and the convenience here is that Bell Canada has a lot of services like basic phone, cable TV, Internet access and Wireless that they are offering their customers on a single number. So to identify the caller as well as the purpose of the call very early as they call the number, speaker identification and speaker verification work together to support that objective. To combine high level security features with speech recognition provides a highly requested convenience factor for the caller.

So when convenience is so important, do you see another driver for voice biometrics in devices control?

We are predicting that as some sort of the next wave. Of course voice biometrics are here competing with a lot of other methods of device control like tokens, finger print readers, radio keys, keyboards and so on, so right now we think that the consumers or customers will determine what are their favorite device controls and there are a lot of candidates here for the generic device. If it is going to be phone based we see a strong argument for voice biometrics, if it is not a ?slam dunk? anyway.

Which are the limiting factors in your perception of the market?

The limiting factors have been sort of a lack of specific products and the pricing of voice biometrics solutions. That?s why we see at least in the coming year something like password reset where there is a well understood return on investment as being both an engine for growth in the near time and also the use case that demonstrates how pricing will become more certain and how solutions are going to be packaged in the near future. We see a number of companies defining both standard pricing and standards of products around problems like password reset. We see enterprises buy this stuff sort of gravitating around premises based solutions or to a certain degree sort of hosted solutions.

It has been the unfriendly surrounding of how these solutions have to be integrated and how much they are going to cost that in the past have negatively determined the market growth. What we are seeing now is more of a set of standard products and hosted solutions offered by some formidable integrators and partners to the chore of biometric solution providers. So one factor that is driving the market are companies like IBM that are the integrators of solutions like the Bell Canada application.

If we fast forward to five year from now we see sort of a different market dynamics altogether and we see more of the customer facing applications taking shape both in the financial services and in the government sectors. We see a crucial point in the 2008/2009 time frame as it becomes more comfortably for callers to enroll by leaving their voice prints: There will be more applications leveraging existing security infrastructure for use over the phone using voice biometrics.

For example RSA together with Nuance are coming up with some standard products like adaptive authentication by phone as well as an adaptive authentication for web. We expect to see more of the traditional infrastructure providers (and you can see IBM as a vendor there, too) offer a multimodal set of solutions that are just easier to buy and to implement within both call flows and enterprise work flows.

Besides government and finance, which roles play eVoting, eHealth and eCommerce for the development of the market?

One of the problems with government is that it is very hard to predict when all of the wheels will align, when something like eVoting gets deployed. There is still a fairly high risk factor there. But among the implementations and use cases that we see accelerating the market, within government there will be some internal security practices around card activation and then the management of transfer payments and entitlement programs the driving applications.

But we see in our forecast that mass deployments are taking place first in the financial services, telecommunications and in mobile applications. We see health care clicking in at some point during the forecast period. Any kind of application that gives remote access to private information will have the uplink clearly over the phone in the future.

Also driving growth during our forecast period are authentication of specific actions and payments of all kinds, where mobile devices are becoming sort of a wallet for all kinds of purchases. Businesses will directly benefit from better fraud detection and that sort of thing. Chances are it will parallel their efforts to build web based commerce.

So where initially benefitted mostly large companies there will be a positive effect towards smaller companies in how voice authentication is delivered either on a hosted or on-premises solution. There?s another trend that is taking place today that companies are organizing their solutions so that they fit the market. So what you?ve got to watch for is a voice application offered on an hosted environment ? if that is happening you will see all kinds of benefits also for smaller and medium companies.
If mobile applications start off in the second half of our forecast period you will see the smaller companies taking advantage of it, too. This is linked to things like micro payments and to the ability of making all kinds of purchases on the go just being authenticated via your cell phone.

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