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Deepgram 2021 Predictions: A Speech Tech Boom and the Rise of the Data Engineer

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

A Speech Tech Boom and the Rise of the Data Engineer

By Scott Stephenson, CEO and co-founder of Deepgram

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted nearly every industry imaginable as we relied more on virtual environments to stay connected, informed and agile to the changes we faced every day. As enterprises sped up digital transformation adoption in response, we saw one major trend emerge: understanding and leveraging voice data has never been as essential as it is now. Data will continue to be a powerful asset for enterprises in 2021-especially the critical and abundant insights that can be unlocked through speech recognition technology. Here are a few of my top predictions for 2021 related to speech technology, improved customer experiences in call centers, and the rise of the data engineer role.

With most companies continuing remote work through 2021, there will be a speech tech boom: The urgent shift to remote work has forced companies to quickly adapt to a virtual office, with most meetings, sales presentations, HR conversations, and more now taking place over video conferencing. In fact, Gartner believes the number of employees who work remotely at least part time will increase to 60 percent by 2023, up from 30 percent before the pandemic. As a result, we've seen more organizations invest in speech recognition software to transcribe conversations, identify insights and trends, and unlock key conversation insights for the business. Looking ahead, I predict we will see more enterprises allocate budget to voice-enabled experiences-both employee and customer-facing. At the same time, software providers will aggressively fund speech-related product developments to break through the noise and try to become the next big player in the customer experience (CX) technology space.

Hiring data engineers will become a top priority: Both tech and non-tech organizations know the inherent value of software engineers and data scientists, but many are just starting to realize that they also need to hire a middle man: data engineers. Data engineers are the individuals who capture raw data, clean it, categorize it and provide it to data scientists, who then can build incredible artificial intelligence (AI) models. In 2021 and beyond, I predict that the data engineer role will be a bigger hiring priority across industry-leading companies as the importance of understanding and implementing data becomes critical.

Call centers will begin to embrace digital transformation to boost customer experiences overall: Call centers today are often composed of entry-level personnel who experience plenty of "bear with me" moments as they try to troubleshoot in real-time. The call center of the future, on the other hand, will automate the most mundane tasks-like resetting a password or changing an address-and appropriately direct more detailed questions to humans within those areas of expertise. I predict that by leaning on automation, call centers will have more budget to train teams on more nuanced tasks, improving agent retention and customer service for everyone as a whole. In turn, call centers will be able better to serve their customers and their customers' needs.

While 2020 focused on adapting to new business challenges as they arose, I see 2021 as the year organizations will learn to embrace and implement the same technology that helped them adjust to a COVID-19 world. We'll see the speech tech industry grow faster than ever before to help organizations unlock critical data insights from not only the call center but HR calls, sales presentations, and internal company meetings. The data engineer's role will grow exponentially as organizations continue to understand the importance of clean, digestible data to build reliable AI models. As AI and machine learning models learn to handle more complex issues and scenarios, organizations will serve their customers and their needs better. Finally, call centers will undergo a digital transformation, automating the most mundane tasks to allow call center representatives to provide quality assistance for more complex issues or phone calls and alleviate high volumes of assistance needed during peak periods. 

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About the Author

Scott Stephenson 

Scott Stephenson is a dark matter physicist turned Deep Learning entrepreneur. He earned a PhD in particle physics from University of Michigan where his research involved building a lab two miles underground to detect dark matter. Scott left his physics post-doc research position to found Deepgram.

Published Thursday, December 31, 2020 7:43 AM by David Marshall
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