This year’s hammer – voice prompts


“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”


I use this quote a lot to warn against the tendency we have to overimplement new technologies and solutions. Even as I go through InfoPath and BI solutions, I will warn that while InfoPath is a forms solution, it’s not the solution to every forms problem (though hopefully it’ll address a lot of them!)


So I wish the speech recognition frenzy would dial it down a bit. Speech recognition for voice prompts is pretty cool, and may have its place, but it’s not a panacea. First and foremost, it’s a security nightmare:


“Please say your name”


“Now please say your password”


In a crowded bus station? I don’t think so.


American Airlines uses voice prompts for their frequent flyer hotline. First of all I have to say my frequent flyer number out loud (security), but then, if I’m checking flight status I have to say my flight number. So – a short numeric entry in a noisy environment (airport) – let’s use voice recognition? FAIL.


(I’m also still fuming because my power company uses voice prompts with no option for numeric override to report a power outage, and all they needed were a few basic options which could have easily been handled with a “1” or “2”)


Use voice recognition to AUGMENT touch tone data input, not to replace it.