We’re all familiar with the futuristic depictions of computer interactions, where people can dictate commands and text composition by speaking. Star Trek famously pioneered it, but damn near every other depiction of twenty first century (or beyond) computing has pretty faithfully followed this trend. On the surface, this sounds convenient, being able to talk while the computer types for you, making the experience faster, less tiresome and eliminating many chances for typos. Dragon, a dictation program, has long strived to make this a reality, with some success. Dragon for Salesforce offers to try to bring this “natural” speech interaction to CRM fluidly.
Well, as someone who does a lot, and I mean a lot of writing, this particular idea hits me where I live, as it were. I’ve tried a multitude of speech recognition systems to try to make my writing faster and smoother in the past, including Dragon and the built in Windows voice recognition systems. So, before I talk about Dragon for Salesforce itself, let me share with you some issues I’ve had with this technology at large.
Speech recognition is a good idea for the most part, but when you try to use it in an office, you have the problem of having to make noise to interact with the system. On top of this, it requires a lot of training to get it to understand a particular voice and accent, even from one person to the next within the same region.
It’s also a pain to introduce new words it doesn’t always understand, certain sounds are impossible to teach them, and it actually gets pretty exhausting fighting with these hindrances, and honestly, the uphill battle mostly negates the seeming convenience of this technology at this point. But, if you’ve used Dragon and like it, and don’t mind the limitations of general speech technology, how does this app fare?
Well, those problems aside, it works fine, and does exactly what you expect. I wouldn’t try to compose reports with it, but for voice commands to do searches and talk it through record handling and other less verbose tasks, it works just fine. This app has a lot of preconfigured commands and form targeting that allows Dragon to handle Salesforce properly. This built in honing of its interoperability does effectively remove one of those uphill battles I mentioned pertaining to this kind of software, which is teaching it what to do when it recognizes various commands you’ve spoken.
So, while the technology has its problems with understanding certain spoken sounds, as well as the tedium of training for voices and accents makes me less than willing to go voice for controlling a computer at this point, if you’re eager to do this, and are tired of pushing keys to get your work done, Dragon for Salesforce is about as good as the technology can get at this time. It will undoubtedly continue to improve so it’s less of a hassle soon enough, but I still think this technology has its limits for practicality, especially in the workplace. But, then, we also thought SaaS was going to have limits to practicality back in the day and look at it now, so what do I know?