Patrick Barnard
Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

November 2007

You are browsing the archive for November 2007.

VoIP Provider JaJah and Online Advertising Network Operator Oridian Sign In-Call Advertising Deal

VoIP service provider Jajah has teamed up with online advertising solutions provider Oridian to deliver a jointly-developed in-call advertising solution. The deal means advertisers who use Oridian’s privately owned ad network will have the opportunity to inject audio advertisements into the call streams of Jajah users. However, today’s press release does not explain a lot of the details, so I’ll take my best shot at explaining this: Most people are already aware of the power of online advertising when it is coupled with VoIP. Many websites are now hosting advertisements with built-in click-to-call capabilities. These enable a user to simply click on a button in the advertisement to launch a VoIP session which connects them directly to the advertising company’s representatives (i.e. call center). Under most models, the click, in effect, pays for the call, and should the user opt to purchase a product or service, the company hosting the online ad on its website gets a small cut.

Amazing Amanda

I was watching TV with my 7-year-old daughter recently when this ad for “Amazing Amanda” came on. I’ve always had an interest in speech recognition technology so this particular doll really caught my attention: You see, Amazing Amanda “is a doll like no other. In fact, she's the closest thing to a real child that a young ‘pretend mommy’ can have. By responding to voices, recognizing objects and showing emotions with realistic facial expressions, Amazing Amanda establishes an interactive mother-daughter bond that is unparalleled among children's toys.” This doll is like an android. Through a combination of advanced voice recognition, sensory response and animatronics technologies, this thing is as close to a real child as you can get… or might want to get … I mean it’s almost spooky … in an almost “Chucky” kind of way. According to the promo on Target’s Web site, Amazing Amanda not only learns to recognize her “mommy's” voice, she also “recognizes objects such as her outfits, toothbrush, sippy cup, various foods and her potty.

Jajah and Jangl Team to Bring Web-based VoIP to the Masses

In deal which will no doubt spur the Internet’s transformation into a giant voice network, VoIP provider Jajah and “social communications” company Jangl have teamed up to make IP telephony a standard and integral part of the Web. This deal is huge, as these two companies have already done much to make VoIP a familiar term to millions of Web users. Jajah specializes in “click-to-call” VoIP for online advertising and retail Web sites, in addition to offering its popular Web-based telephony service via its Web site,, which connects users all over the globe. Meanwhile, Jangl offers a similar service (using your email address) and also specializes in bringing click-to-call VoIP and text messaging to social Web sites, including technology that lets members communicate via their Web-enabled mobile phones. This partnership will combine the strengths of the two companies and promises to bring new, innovative and low-cost text and VoIP services to consumers, thus making Web-based voice communications to become practically ubiquitous. The two companies will work together to market their combined solutions and bring new solutions to the fore. "The goal of this partnership is to create several natural synergies for both Jajah and Jangl, and has the potential to strengthen both companies' positions going forward," said Rebecca Swensen, research analyst, VoIP Services for IDC, Inc., in a press release.

Jajah Answers the Call

Well, I asked for it -- a lo and behold, look at what happened a few days later. In my blog post about Web-based VoIP provider Jajah teaming up with Web-based VoIP provider Jangl on Thursday I wrote: “Maybe it isn't part of the plan, but I hope that Jajah and Jangl will team to deliver a USB phone that plugs into one’s computer or perhaps even a router enabling a home phone network via one’s PC to help accelerate adoption of their Web-based services. I think letting users also use a regular handset, in addition to their computer, would go a long way to accelerate adoption of the two companies’ Internet phone services.” This was based on my opinion that in order to really drive consumer adoption of Web-based VoIP, you have to make the experience as close as possible to using traditional phone service. That means you have to be able to use a regular handset – and without having to punch in numbers on a Web site via your computer in order to connect calls. Well, yesterday, Jajah launched Jajah Direct, a new VoIP service letting users make low cost long distance calls over a regular telephone. No, it’s not a USB phone that plugs into your computer – in fact you don’t even need a computer – or a broadband connection! Here’s how it works: First you have to dial an access number given to you by Jajah (or visit the Jajah Web site) and then you select a local number that you “assign” to a particular person you call with some regularity. After you select the “local number” of the person you want to call, you can continue to use that number to connect to that same person each time you call them.

Survey Shows that Retail Banks Really Don’t Care About the Average Schmuck

Here’s some news that will come as no surprise to those of us who are at or below the “average salary” mark in our respective U.S. regions: Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) solutions provider Allegiance has released the results of a survey showing that bank customers in the U.S. don’t feel they are valued or respected by the banks they do business with. According to the results of the monthly online survey with 500 bank customers (the banks, of course, are not named) only 10 percent reported “neutrality” or worse when considering whether they will discontinue their relationship with their bank within a year. At the same time, only 26 percent of customers think their banks services are the best compared with others. The survey suggests that although banking customers are exceptionally loyal, they are not unaware of what other banks are doing. Thus banks could be doing a lot more to build customer loyalty -- as any customer could end up suddenly defecting at a given moment.

Speech Technology as a Crime Fighting Tool

If you cover the contact center industry, you’ve probably heard about how today’s speech analytics solutions -- software which is used to search and find trends in recorded conversation -- has the ability to detect the emotional state of a caller using advanced speech algorithms. Some of today’s speech analytics solutions let contact center managers be alerted in near real time when a customer or agent’s voice gets “stressed,” indicating that there is a problem. Then the manager can intervene, either by silently “coaching” the agent on what to do next (using screen pops, IM, or through “whisper coaching”) or by actually barging in on the call. Even if you’re not aware of this technological feat, you’ve no doubt been witnessing how voice recognition is finding new application in everything from IVRs, to security systems, to “smart homes,” to children’s toys. But did you know that speech technology has advanced to the point where it can also be used as a crime fighting tool? The Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA), made by West Palm Beach, Fla.-based NITV, is a “voice-based investigative truth verification tool” which basically performs the same job as a polygraph. The company claims the CVSA, when combined with its FACT Scoring Algorithm (Final Analysis Confirmation Tool), creates a highly accurate truth verification system which is now in use by more than 1,700 law enforcement agencies, including U.S. military special operations and intelligence units. Like the polygraph, results of the CVSA are not normally used in court.