More Comments on the SpeechMagic/Dragon Comparison

Risking a SpeechMagic-Dragon Comparison? More comments came up over the weekend from Eric and David, which I would like to address here this morning.

Dear Eric, Dear David,

Eric is not the only one confused here. Actually, the bluriness that still prevails between consumer and professional speech recognition technology is what started this blog in the first place.

First, it is important to place my original thread in its context. I wrote this thread after I attended a congress on ER medicine where one doctor was explaining how he was using the off-the-shelf Dragon engine as an enterprise solution; an initiative that only reveals the overall market turmoil. To address users’ confusion, the best way is probably to analyze the reasons behind it. I believe the products’ respective sales models account for most of the blurriness:

  • Dragon is sold both directly (you can buy it from your local Electronics store) and through integration partners. What this doctor did was use the out-of-the box software thinking he was using an enterprise solution. And who could blame him? I would be lost myself if I were in his shoes.
  • SpeechMagic is not sold directly, but only through integration partners (workflow/dictation vendors). It is Philips policy to rely on their integration partners to provide the workflow management, interfacing and security aspects, which they consider as being as important as the speech recognition engine itself. The role of SpeechMagic in the overall EMR agenda will thereby depend on the way the partner interfaces the whole speech/system with the rest of the hospital’s IT infrastructure.

This whole dichotomy in the sales approach is not without its historic explanations. As Eric rightly points out, both products come from different worlds, addressing different markets in the first place:

  • Dragon comes from the consumer world. It was later “extended” to the professional arena through the addition of medical dictionaries and, later on, integration partners. It can therefore be installed on a single user’s PC or in a network configuration. This “consumer” background might also explain why the recognition accuracy is a central point in Dragon’s marketing speech.
  • SpeechMagic comes from the professional end of the spectrum and has always refused to reach out to the consumer market. It is designed for groups of users as part of a department or multi-facility approach, for which the recognition accuracy is just as important as other feature such as shared correction, acoustic adaptation and failover mechanisms. This is why David is right when he points out that SpeechMagic is not en enterprise solution; simply one that’s, in my opinion, more geared towards professional use. I will therefore rephrase that in my original post. SpeechMagic, just like Dragon, becomes an enterprise solution once integrated, depending on the workflow management features offered by its integration partner(s).

Regarding initial training: I am not sure which version of Dragon this doctor was using. I am only reporting his experience of using Dragon, which involved, in his own words, significant training time. Then again I am not questioning Dragon’s marketing speech here (who would I be to do so?), but only relaying a user specific testimonial.

Finally, David is rightly mentioning Enterprise Express (powered by Dragon) as an enterprise solution, which should be added to the list I provided on Friday.

May I conclude by inviting actual end users of any of the above systems to share their experience on this blog? I look forward to publishing your stories.

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