"Because of the growing emphasis on customer service, many companies have become interested in speech recognition systems," said Daniel Hong, industry analyst at market research firm Datamonitor PLC.
Traditionally, interest did not automatically turn into purchases. Speech recognition systems had flaws, such as an inability to recognize user input, that were so significant that customers would sometimes slam down their telephones in frustration and perhaps then dial a competitor's number. Recently, the technology has improved, so firms have begun to look at speech recognition as means to improve internal as well as external communications. As a result, sales are expected to rise: Datamonitor forecasts that the number of speech recognition systems worldwide will increase from 99,000 in 2004 to 226,000 in 2009.