Oracle's CUIM 7.1, eglue on Gartner, LumenVox and MRCP, Convergys, Mobile Network Security

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David Sims
| CRM, ERP, Contact Center, Turkish Coffee and Astroichthiology:

Oracle's CUIM 7.1, eglue on Gartner, LumenVox and MRCP, Convergys, Mobile Network Security

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Miles Davis's 1971 album A Tribute to Jack Johnson, an album I learned about on Facebook this morning. Can't believe I've never heard of this before, it's one of the most exciting jazz discoveries I've made:

Oracle has announced the general availability of their Communications Unified Inventory Management 7.1, which company officials say is designed for the introduction "in a discrete fashion" into an existing inventory environment through a modular, service-oriented architecture-based framework for unifying disparate data across multiple systems. 
Company officials say this approach lets service providers deploy "only the specific inventory capabilities required in their environments." They point to Etihad Atheeb Telecom "GO," Cellular South, Com Hem AB and Tikona Digital Networks as early adopters using it to "support enterprise and consumer services across fixed, cable and mobile networks."
The 7.1 release has new capabilities, Oracle officials say, with "improved usability and integration," and including technology packs giving out-of-the-box functionality for accelerated rollout of the most common IP multi-play and higher layer services, including voice over IP, multi-protocol label switching layer 3 virtual private network and Metro Ethernet/virtual local area network services.

It's also touted as providing out-of-the-box integration with Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, which can be used to create tailored reports that draw upon real-time and historical inventory data, as well as Oracle Spatial, which supports geographical mapping and geocoding across the application. There's also a graphical design time modeling tool, Design Studio, offering best practices modeling of customer services and resources.

Software vendor eglue has announced it has been positioned by Gartner in the Niche Players quadrant of the "Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Service Contact Centers" report.

Eglue officials say that the current economic situation is "affecting the decisions of business leaders," who are "focusing on the central role of customer service to simultaneously lower costs and build customer loyalty," maintaining that this is "changing the evaluation criteria of the Magic Quadrant" in light of "budget realities."

The report assesses the market for customer service and support applications, saying selection of an application must take into consideration how the application addresses the requirements of the service center. Hard to argue with that, of course. It rates requirements in increasing order of complexity in what it calls "the four major areas" -- information access, service process optimization, end-to-end industry process experts and intelligent dialogue/real-time decisioning. 
That last one, deemed the most complex requirement, is where the eglue product is aimed, as it pulls data from the ongoing interaction and internal or external data sources, translating it into "actionable user guidance" by presenting recommendations in the form of call-outs.

Dror Pockard, CEO of eglue, cites the Gartner CIO survey list as putting "cost-cutting, customer experience and customer service as the business factors that will drive decisions in the next 24 months." He says niche players offer important products as components or offerings for vertical segments, as opposed to other vendors who "offer complete portfolios but demonstrate weaknesses in one or more important areas... they usually are focused on support of the large enterprise, rather than small and mid-size businesses."

Founded in 2001, eglue is headquartered in Hoboken, New Jersey. It's a privately-held company backed by venture capitalists and private investors such as Giza, Cedar, Evergreen and Plenus Venture Lending.

Speech recognition provider LumenVox and open-source MRCP project UniMRCP have announced what officials from both firms are calling "the successful conclusion of interoperability testing between their products."

LumenVox CTO Jim Blake said the integration means that anyone who uses UniMRCP libraries for their MRCP stack will also be able to use the LumenVox Speech Engine. Arsen Chaloyan, the author and maintainer of UniMRCP, says UniMRCP provides "a free method of adding MRCP support to any voice platform, gateways, or media server," and that anyone wishing to add support for LumenVox speech recognition "can do so easily and affordably."

MRCP, the media resource control protocol, is a standard method for different pieces of software to communicate. It is most commonly used for telephony systems such as voice platforms to control automatic speech recognition and text to speech applications. Most all modern ASR and TTS support some form of MRCP, as do many voice platforms. UniMRCP is an open source cross-platform project providing libraries for an MRCP client or server. Its typical users would be programmers who are working on a voice platform and wish to add support for MRCP.

The LumenVox Speech Engine is a speech recognition product including support for both MRCPv1 and MRCPv2. The two versions of the protocol are similar, except version one uses RTSP as its signaling protocol while version two uses SIP. LumenVox and UniMRCP support both versions, and both were tested as part of the interoperability certification.

UniMRCP encapsulates SIP/MRCPv2, RTSP, SDP and RTP stacks and provides an MRCP version independent user level interface, meaning platform providers can integrate the UniMRCP stack into their software and support both MRCPv1 and MRCPv2.

While UniMRCP is mainly a programming library to be used by developers adding MRCP support into an existing product, and not a standalone application, a simple standalone MRCP client is available as part of the downloads at the UniMRCP Web page. Both UniMRCP and LumenVox support Windows and Linux.

Convergys, a vendor of relationship management products, has announced the availability of a platform-independent On-Demand Voice Authentication product, which Convergys clients and non-Convergys clients can implement by enrolling the voice signatures of their customers and employees. 
Included in this product is voice biometric security from the Voice Signature Service provided through Convergys' partnership with TradeHarbor.
The idea is that upon enrollment, companies can authenticate agent-assisted and consumer transactions more securely than with a traditional ID + PIN authentication. Convergys officials describe it as a "no-capital expense deployment," touting its pay-as-you-go model.

Nancy Jamison, president and principal analyst, Jamison Consulting, has noted that government regulations requiring authentication, "coupled with the growth of identity fraud," are increasing demand for security products with features like voice authentication. According to Convergys officials, a person's voice signature is as unique as a fingerprint and can be used in legally binding documents and contracts if allowed by applicable law.
"Today voice authentication is a competitive differentiator because it is new. However, with the increase in online transaction activity and increase in mobile device use, voice authentication will quickly go from being a nice-to-have to being a must-have for companies that want to retain their customers," says Bill Livingston, vice president of services architecture and deployment, TradeHarbor. 

Convergys, a member of the S&P 500, has about 75,000 employees in 84 customer contact centers and other facilities in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. 
A recent survey from AEP Networks shows that 92 percent of organizations questioned allow their employees to work remotely or on the move. 
Okay, you say. So? "This is," the report says, "despite the fact that network threats are on the increase and 44 percent of respondents believe that their networks are no more than 'quite' secure," and "no one" thought that unauthorized data access would have a minimal impact on their business, while 29 percent believe this would cause major, long-term damage. 
The rest ranged between these two poles, with 61 percent taking the middle ground or tipping the balance towards "more significant" harm.
When asked about the likely impact of data loss on their organization, only three percent believed that jobs would be lost and the same number would expect no real impact at all. However, 53 percent thought that data loss would result in a negative impact on their business reputation. Customer relationships would be damaged for 22 percent and 19 percent felt that the impact would be felt directly in the bottom line.

Pat Donnellan, CEO of AEP Networks, said the survey found that 83 percent of remote workers carry corporate data on their laptops and mobile devices "despite the perceived impact of data loss and unauthorized data access on the business as a whole." He noted that the majority are relying on VPN security (61 percent) to provide adequate protection for their remote access needs.

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