Siri-like voice technology coming to your enterprise


Thursday, 18 July, 2013


Siri-like voice technology coming to your enterprise

Natural language technology similar to that behind apps like Google Now, Apple’s Siri and IBM’s Watson could soon find its way into the enterprise.

That’s according to a report from analyst firm Gartner, titled ‘Google, Apple Siri and IBM Watson: The Future of Natural-Language Question Answering in Your Enterprise’.

Siri, Google Now and Watson are examples of what the firm calls natural language question answering (NLQA) - a form of information retrieval that combines natural language processing, text summarisation, speech to text and machine learning technologies.

The basic idea is that users can pose questions in natural language to a machine - be it their mobile phone or a supercomputer - and get (hopefully) relevant responses in return. Watson, for example, appeared on the quiz show Jeopardy! and was able to defeat two former winners, with its access to about four terabytes of data, including the entirety of Wikipedia.

“NLQA has the potential to provide a highly efficient and satisfying information retrieval experience because its focus is on delivering an answer or range of answers that shield the user from the majority of the inference and interpretation of the content,” the Gartner report reads.

“NLQA will become an embedded capability in a range of applications and solutions.”

These answering systems provide a few benefits over previous generations of information retrieval technology, including a more natural interface and direct answers, rather than lists of documents.

According to Gartner, this technology could soon appear in your business.

“Consumerisation is once again driving a technology that will have an enterprise impact. Web search and virtual assistants are coming in from the consumer marketplace, so the challenge for IT is taking advantage of this phenomenon,” the report reads.

“IT will not be a driver of NLQA technology, but it will certainly have an important role to play when it comes to loading and managing enterprise data in NLQA systems. Cognitive systems are currently a large enterprise commitment driven by the CEO.

“But as those systems become available on mobile platforms, issues like endpoint admission, enterprise data security and hybrid cloud architecture will demand IT attention and management.”

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