Speech-World Keynotes (Part II)

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Greg Galitzine

Speech-World Keynotes (Part II)

It was back to the keynote room for the second set of keynotes from Speech-World Conference.


First up was Inter-Tel’s Jeff Ford, that firm’s CTO and President, talking about speech technology and what enterprises might hope to gain from it. Ford echoed a point made in the morning’s keynotes, namely that we are at a critical juncture, an inflexion point in the growth of this industry.


The core technology is getting to the point where speech is becoming more reliable.

Speech technology is starting to become mainstream, and it’s changing the way businesses communicate internally and externally,” said Ford.


Historically the technology has enjoyed a poor reputation. IVRs are mocked in commercials on TV (por Espanol, aprimo numero dos…) with customers emulating DTMF tones in person (“boop…beep…boop”).


Ford continued by underscoring a number of current trends in the enterprise, including:  increased mobility (with concomitant rise in new device proliferation); distributed organizations (multiple smaller locations, increased work at home); continued emphasis on productivity enhancement and expense reduction.


Enterprises require a number of things, he said. New technology alone is not enough. Businesses are looking for solutions that offer a solid return on investment to justify capital expenditures, and enterprises are likewise looking to technology to increase revenue, decrease cost, increase efficiency, and improve customer service.


Enterprise decision makers are increasingly looking to standards, which are now more important than ever for generation of developers raised on data interoperability expectations. In today’s world, solutions must operate across multiple infrastructure (IP, TDM, Wireless….) IT JUST HAS TO WORK; to do otherwise is simply unacceptable.


Ford asked the audience, “How does speech drive business process improvement?”

We are seeing an increasing use of speech for self service applications. As speech-enabled apps proliferate, they supplement Web interfaces. Natural Language is a must for this. In the end, self-service reduces errors, reduces costs, and improves service levels.


“Speech technology clearly has the ability to make telecommunications user interfaces better,” said Ford.


He offered an example. “Speech enables you to call people by name again; I am not a number. I’m not SEVEN different numbers!”  Speech enables you to reach out and contact people, not numbers, based on presence and the user defined/user controlled call contact profile. Speech can further enhance the experience by providing meaningful responses to questions with text to speech.


Jeff Ford concluded his speech by saying, “By combining speech technology with presence management system to create a powerful enterprise communications tool, we are able to bring value to the enterprise.”


 Up next, Peter Monaco, VP of Engineering At Nuasis, spoke about the need for standards in the IP Contact Center.


One of the founders of Nuance, Monaco pressed his theme that standards are beginning to drive real business results.


The customer service challenge – multiple media types, varying customer value, multiple agents with multiple skill sets – can increasingly be addressed -- and in fact resolved -- by the use of standards-based solutions.


“Essentially we wish to improve customer service, while lowering operating costs,” said Monaco.


The call center industry is rife with customers using outdated silos of technology, and studies show they are not necessarily all that willing to change, for a variety of reasons.

IP and speech technology however, are driving the traditional disjointed call center model forward into a single unified solution. Adherence to standards – specifically IP – allows this to occur.


Hardware standards enable a software-only, horizontal application deployment model.

IP as a standard enables network convergence. Standards are also at play in the application layer, with the use of multiple standards such as VoIP, VXML, SOAP, ODBC, VXML, SIP… and the like.


By taking advantage of standards-based IP contact center solutions, the silos go away, and you are left with applications sitting on a network that are able to interact and talk to each other enabling true convergence and interoperability.


Monaco closed with a series of case studies showing the successful implementation of standards-based solutions.

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