Angel Labs Introduces Lexee to Help Developers Make Mobile Apps Conversational

Microstrategy’s Angel division has upped the ante in the speech-enabled mobile assistant domain by introducing Lexee, a self-service solution that integrates cloud-based speech processing, natural language understanding and analytics. At the same time, the company announced the launch of Angel Labs, which is chartered to be a point of entry for innovative developers and enterprise IT execs to incorporate Angel’s resources into their mobile applications and enterprise business processes.

To show how it’s done, Angel has simultaneously showcases a mobile app in which Lexee enables mobile employees to use voice commands, rather than cumbersome search or tapping, to perform everyday tasks or transactions, like updating sales information, scheduling appointments or pulling customer records. There’s obviously a rush to add a “Siri-like” front end to a multiplicity of enterprise Apps. Last week witnessed a similar SalesForce-based product from Active Endpoints, which leveraged its deep integration with CRM to simplify the process of making conversational speech a natural modality for interacting with Salesforce.

Angel’s key differentiator in this domain is its ability to leverage a long-standing commitment to caller analytics. As a fully-owned division of MicroStrategy, a leader in the enterprise analytics and business intelligence (BI) market, there is significant in-house expertise in tracking usage in order to detect what is working, what is not working and proposing fixes. This has relevance for enterprise apps, like Lexee for SalesForce, which will benefit from recognizing and adapting to known inefficiencies. However, ongoing analytics will have greater importance and financial value when its lens is pointed at customer care or self-service applications with millions, rather than tens of thousands of users.

The establishment of Angel Labs acknowledges that the age of the speech and multimodal mashup is truly upon us. Angel cites the billions of apps that are downloaded every month, signalling that hundreds of millions of smartphone users are primed to use whatever means they deem appropriate to accomplish tasks – including the use of their own voices. But the real metric is the tens of thousands of mobile developers or app development shops where talented, creative individuals see the opportunity to deliver the apps that make communications, entertainment and commerce possible in new ways.

To date, DevNation (as it is sometimes called), has steered clear of voice, noting that the real growth in usage among the mobile masses has been in text messaging and Web-based social networking. Making apps “real-time” has largely involved check-ins, uploads and other forms of status updates and notifications. With ubiquitous video looming on the horizon, developers had lost interest in keeping speech as part of the conversation.

Clearly, Apple’s introduction of Siri has re-introduced speech to the mobile app developer world and Angel is the latest platform provider to step in to show developers an easy way to incorporate conversational speech into their services. Voxeo Labs, with its Tropo platform, has working in this space for several years. AT&T has also thrown its hat in the ring by formally offering inexpensive access to a group of speech-based APIs – for Web search, business search, dictation, Q&A and voice control of TV. Cloud-based telco Twilio cannot be far behind in the inevitable response to developer demand for ways to support the full spectrum of multi-modal input and output alternatives for mobile devices.

By offering Lexee, Angel acknowledges that voice-based communications is destined to hold its own against the onslaught of SMS, tweets and other forms of text-based, in-app messaging. The ability to use one’s natural voice to take control, dictate content and navigate apps is compelling and, with the addition of call analyatics, we are destined to know exactly how well a voice-based, natural-language interface is helping people accomplish what they want to do.

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