Careers at Nuance Communications
Nuance Communications’ mission is to be the world’s most comprehensive and innovative provider of speech solutions.
Nuance Communications is a technology firm that provides speech and imaging solutions. The company operates four reportable business segments:
- Healthcare – Offers clinical speech and language understanding solutions aimed at enhancing the clinical documentation process. Specific offerings include transcription and diagnostic solutions, Dragon Medical (dictation software), and clinical document improvement (CDI) and coding solutions.
- Mobile and Consumer – Offers a range of connected services and virtual assistants built on text-to-speech, voice recognition, dialog, natural language understanding, and text input technologies. Specific offerings are automotive, device, and dragon solutions, as well as mobile operator services.
- Enterprise – Offers automated customer services and solutions focused on speech and artificial intelligence technologies. Specific offerings include OnPremise solutions and services (integrated with on-premise third-party platforms) and OnDemand multi-channel cloud.
- Imaging – Offers software expertise and solutions that assist organizations and professionals with their information and document processes. Specific offerings include MFP Scan automation solutions, MFP Print automation solutions, and PDF and OCR software.
In the early 1990s SRI International’s Speech Technology and Research (STAR) Laboratory developed a speaker-independent speech recognition solution for the U.S. government. The program enabled computers to recognize a set number of words in human speech. In 1994, the company founded a spin-off called Nuance Communications with the goal of commercializing the technology.
Nuance introduced a large-scale speech application in 1996, for call centers. At the time, many large firms were looking to reduce call center staff costs, and Nuance enabled response automation. In Spring 2000 it went public. In November of that year it acquired SpeechFront, a voice instant messaging service, for $10.5 million in cash and stock. This helped enhance its capabilities.
Nuance sold licenses for its product to third parties such as independent software vendors. During this period it competed with many other natural language speech recognition (NLSR) solution vendors, including SpeechPearl, Philips, SpeechWorks, and other smaller regional players such as the UK-based Vocalis. In 2005, it was acquired by a competitor, ScanSoft, which took the Nuance name.
Business model of Nuance Communications
Nuance has a mass market business model, with no significant differentiation between customers. The company targets its offering at organizations across industries that need voice recognition solutions for their customer service operations. The most common sectors are financial services, travel and telecommunications, healthcare, utilities, education, and government.
Nuance offers two primary value propositions: accessibility and brand/status.
The company offers accessibility through its many options. Its speech solutions support approximately 80 different languages. Further, it maintains regional offices in 35 countries.
The company has established a strong brand because of its success. Its speech solutions are used in nearly 1,000 devices, including printers, handsets, and vehicles. It has shipped its products in over 110 million voice-enabled vehicles and five billion mobile phones. It has over 22 million registered users for its desktop solutions. Its customers include the eight biggest handset makers, the 10 largest automotive firms, over 10,000 hospitals (including 150,000 doctors/caregivers), and two-thirds of the Fortune 100. Specific prominent clients include Bank of America, United Airlines, Bell Canada, Delphi, Chrysler, Citroen, Verizon, and Sony. Lastly, Nuance has won awards in every major product family.
Nuance’s main channels are its direct sales force (operating in over 70 countries), its eCommerce website, and its network of over 2,000 channel partners, which includes distributors, independent software vendors, system integrators, hardware vendors, value-added resellers, and telecommunications carriers.
Nuance’s customer relationship is primarily of a personal assistance nature. The company offers phone and e-mail support. It also maintains the “Nuance University Customer & Partner Program”, which provides learning options to clients and partners. These include product and solution training, classroom and webinar-based live classes, and partner certification exams. That said, there is a self-service component in the form of online learning courses and answers to frequently asked questions on the company’s website. There is also a community element in the form of a user forum.
Nuance’s business model entails designing and developing software solutions for its customers.
Nuance utilizes over 2,000 channel partners to sell its products, as mentioned previously. They are given training, sales, and marketing resources to assist with their efforts. Specific partners include Accenture, Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, IBM, Sony, Nortel, Lexmark, Cisco, and Xerox.
The company also maintains the following two dedicated partnership programs:
Nuance Healthcare Connections Partner Program – This focuses specifically on sellers of its Healthcare line of products. These firms are chosen through a demanding certification process. Specific partners include New World Creations, Datel Solutions, and RevPro Healthcare Solutions.
Nuance Affiliate Program – This program involves organizations that promote Nuance’s offerings through their platforms (websites, mobile apps, etc.). The firms receive materials such as banner ads, text links, buttons, and feeds. If a lead results in a purchase the partner receives an 18% commission, with higher rates possible for best-selling affiliates.
Nuance’s main resource is its team of over 2,000 developers, engineers, and voice and language scientists. It also relies on a group of over 1,200 services employees to carry out implementations of its solutions. The company operates one of the largest libraries of speech data in the world. Lastly, it places a high priority on intellectual property, with over 4,300 patents and patent applications.
Nuance has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through significant personal service and frequent improvements to its offerings. Its biggest cost driver is cost of revenue, a variable expense, particularly that associated with professional services and hosting. Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing and research/development, both fixed costs.
Nuance has three revenue streams:
Product and Licensing – Revenues generated from the sales and licenses of Nuance’s technology.
Professional Services and Hosting – Professional services involve revenues generated from the offering of implementation, training, and consulting services for customers. Hosting involves revenues obtained from the delivery of on-demand hosted services such as automated customer care applications, medical transcription, mobile operator services, and mobile search, infotainment, and transcription.
Maintenance and Support – Revenues generated from the offering of technical maintenance and support services.
info: Raul earned Bachelor’s and Master's degrees in Economics from Stanford University. He previously served as a Corporate Vice President and President of the Desktop System Division at Xerox Corporation, where he worked for a decade.
info: Bruce earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Georgetown University and an MBA and J.D. from the University of Virginia. He previously led global M&A activity at Nokia and held leadership roles at PepsiCo and BCG.
info: Dan earned a degree in Accounting from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He previously served as the Chief Accounting Officer, Corporate Controller, and SVP of Finance at Nuance. He has over 20 years of experience.
info: Vlad earned a B.S. and Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from McGill University. He previously served as Chief Scientist at L&H and Kurzweil AI. He leads Nuance’s research efforts, focusing on product strategy and core technology.
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