Speech Recognition vs touch

With the imminent release of Windows 8, the focus is on touch computing and how it will change the world. Apple have been forerunners with multi-gesture and now it’s seems the world of the PC will soon be catching up. The mouse may be consigned to the museum.
All of this is great – but one commentator wrote off speech recognition as an archaic attempt at computer interfacing. Well – I’m here to tell you he could not have been more wrong. Speech is being developed and continues to make huge strides. It wont be long before certain aspects of computing are given back to us as a speech response and a graphical display, depending on the need.

We already have some of this on phones (iPhone and BB) where we can give verbal commands. and this comes in very useful some times. The point I’m making here is that there plenty of room for a speech interface – they have become better and they will become even better.

On Wednesday IBM showcased the IBM Watson in Louisville, Kentucky. It can play games and solve real-world problems in areas such as Healthcare, Business Intelligence, Life Sciences and a host of other areas.

Photo Credit: IBM

Have a look at the link through to IBM – This is impressive stuff and the takeaway is that it’s pretty premature to write off speech recognition. In fact quite the opposite in my opinion.


The Oracle / Sun thing

Well it’s very interesting that this buy-out has generated a lot of discussion around an IBM/SAP merger or a Microsoft/SAP merger.  Of course because of the relative sizes of the companies concerned it would be SAP that would be bought out. Not a cheap purchase though at 45 billion market cap. I don’t think it’s likely – both Microsoft and IBM have explored this before and backed away, but it’s fun to speculate.

IBM buys SAP scenario

Well IBM would almost undoubtably form tighter alliances between WebSphere and NetWeaver. Few people realise that we already collaborate on products and we have a center in Germany staffed by IBM people and SAP people for this reason. This almost brings me to my point, but lets leave that until the end. IBM uses SAP itself and shares many customers with SAP already, so this wouldn’t be an “Oracle buys Peoplesoft”  type of situation – we already are very well “meshed” together. Let’s look at the next scenario.

Microsoft buys SAP scenario

What would Microsoft do? I think they would leave the core but redesign the GUI for SAP. We’ve already separated the front-end quite substantially on SAP, so this will be very easy to do. Oh! and we’ve already collaborated with Microsoft on “Duet”. This is a Microsoft Office / SAP mash-up that gives very tight integration at the front-end.

So to look at the likelyhood of a buy-out in this light – I would have to say why? We (at SAP) are already aligned strongly with IBM and Microsoft and we convert clients from Oracle on an almost daily basis. I might be wrong here but I think it’s an expensive aquisition to accomplish very little. Market share yes – but neither Big Blue or Microsoft want to play in the Enterprise Application arena.

Fun to speculate though and time will tell.