SAP today disclosed plans to integrate speech-recognition technology from SpeechWorks International Inc. into its R/3 suite of business applications. The idea is to make the software easier to use by providing a natural-language interface to R/3.
A salesperson in the field, for instance, could dial into his company's SAP system over the telephone and ask about such things as inventory levels, product delivery dates, and current prices. The system would then be able to audibly respond with the appropriate answer.
Stuart Patterson, CEO of SpeechWorks, says he expects the first level of integration to be completed by the second quarter of next year. The initial integration will focus on SAP's forthcoming customer relationship management applications. "The SpeechWorks solution provides new levels of usability and differentiation in customer-facing applications," says Howard Lau, executive VP of SAP Labs' Venture Fund. "SpeechWorks also allows companies to move quickly to create advanced speech-recognition applications.
SAP made an undisclosed equity investment in SpeechWorks in order to facilitate the integration work. The relationship, according to Patterson, is not exclusive.