To answer that question, we went to the top-secret source for all Dragon product direction: you.
We’ve always relied heavily on customer feedback in our product development process – but the amount and quality of customer feedback that we have received during the lifetime of Dragon 10 was unprecedented. There were two major initiatives that drove significantly enhanced customer feedback over the past two years. The first is a feature that is built into the Dragon 10 product – an anonymous, opt-in data collection feature that allows us to analyze how our customers, in aggregate, use Dragon. The second initiative was our broad use of social media vehicles to communicate to our customer base. Through our blog, our Twitter feed, our Facebook page and our Web feedback form, we received an incredible amount of highly valuable customer feedback.
These two feedback mechanisms are far more powerful in combination than as standalone items. The data collection feature by itself could only tell us what was happening – but not why. The feedback from our social media channels provided a rich understanding of some of the requests, desires and concerns – but it is difficult to tell whether this feedback is unique to a vocal minority or something that represents a larger opportunity unless you pair this feedback with data.
One thing was clear – Dragon is an extremely powerful application, but many of the features and capabilities weren’t immediately obvious to some of our customers. We needed to think about the way we present information and capabilities to our customers so that it would be easier for them to discover the full power of Dragon. We also learned that not everybody was getting equally high accuracy using Dragon. When you look at the data, you realize that there are a few common things that contribute to lower accuracy in Dragon:
- First of all, the quality of the audio that Dragon hears is a significant contributor to accuracy. We knew we needed to provide better tools to help identify and diagnose problematic audio on computers.
- We also found that some people were speaking to Dragon in a very choppy manner – instead of speaking fluidly with longer utterances. Because of the way Dragon works, the more fluidly and consistently you speak, the more information Dragon has to determine the appropriate transcription for your voice.
When we watched people interacting with Dragon, we saw that some folks were distracted by the “results box” that showed the intermediate transcription results. So in Dragon 11, we have removed that results box and introduced a new user interface element designed to help people continue to focus on their work, versus constantly checking those intermediate results. That was an example of making part of the user interface “less visible” because we believe it was distracting (if you disagree, we left you the option to turn it back on).
Another major innovation in Dragon 11, known as the Dragon Sidebar, is designed to make the user interface “more visible” when you really need it. We created this element because we found that many of our customers did not know about the commands that Dragon understood – and they could not easily find those commands, or remember their own custom commands. A lot of people were actually taking their list of custom commands and attaching them to the side of their screen with a little sticky note. The new Dragon Sidebar is designed to provide intelligent user feedback when you need it – and get out of the way when you don’t need it.
Of all the new features in Dragon 11, I think my favorite is the ability for Dragon to format or correct multiple instances of text in the same document. When I say “underline Dragon,” all the instances of the word Dragon are highlighted and numbered on my screen. I can either select the instance that I want to change, or say “choose all” to make the change in every instance.
Perhaps the most exciting opportunity for us to involve our customers in the product development process happens during our beta test program. This is when we send pre-release versions of the software to some of our customers to get feedback on the product and its features. For Dragon 11, we had our most extensive beta program ever. We also focused not only on our “expert users,” but we invited novice users to participate in the program. We also invited several of our customers who indicated that they were dissatisfied with previous versions of Dragon to participate in our beta program. This provided us with fantastic feedback about whether our efforts in the Dragon 11 program addressed the concerns of those users.
I hope you get the opportunity to learn more about Dragon 11 by visiting our website. For those of you who are not Dragon users, I would encourage you to give Dragon 11 a try – now is perhaps the best time ever for people to start using speech recognition. For those of you who are using Dragon 10 or earlier versions of Dragon, I encourage you to upgrade to take full advantage of these exciting new capabilities.
Finally, I would like to thank you all for your feedback and your participation in our product development process. I believe you all have helped us make the best Dragon ever.
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Dragon
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