Voice Recognition Firm Eckoh In Shareholder Boardroom Battle


British speech recognition technology firm Eckoh is locked in a battle for boardroom control from its largest shareholder.

FT.com reports that 12 percent shareholder OCS Management has criticised executives’ performance and called for a new chairman to be appointed, while Eckoh execs are reportedly urging shareholders to resist its bid for more control and to back their own preferred candidate for the chairman position. Founder and CEO Nik Philpott ominously says he won’t “preside over the company’s death”.

Current chairman Peter Reynolds, who is stepping down at the end of the year, is expected to write to shareholders to drum up support—so far shareholders have been split in their allegiance. According to Reynolds, in initial meetings “OCS…stated that they saw little value in Eckoh’s Speech business but did see uses for the cash held by the company.”

James Golightly, executive director of OCS’ parent company ORA Capital Partners, says the plans is simply to “put a stronger board in place”. Expect fireworks at the company’s shareholder meeting on September 4.



Eckoh wins £1.5m contract with Government Transport organisation

Eckoh, the hosted speech recognition services business, has won a new five year contract worth a minimum £1.5 million to supply services to a major Government Transport & Infrastructure organisation.As part of the deal, Eckoh will provide automated telephone services using its advanced speech recognition technology, with the first service expected to launch later this year.

Eckoh plc: Vue Cinemas Renew Exclusive Contract for Three More Years


Eckoh plc is pleased to announce it has successfully renewed its exclusive contract for a three year period to provide a speech-enabled cinema information and ticket booking service and live contact centre to Vue, the UK?s leading developer and operator of state-of-the-art cinemas.

Under the terms of the contract, in Autumn 2009, Eckoh will deploy a completely new automated telephone service which is being designed to reflect the same innovative approach that Vue bring to the cinema market as a whole.

The service will allow callers to easily access information and to book tickets from the full and extensive range of ticket and performance types across the Vue network and to select where they would like to sit in the cinema auditorium and to keep this as a personal preference. It will also feature increased levels of personalisation so it will offer callers where desired, selections based upon their previous call patterns to make the call quicker and more intuitive.

The new service will also benefit from being deployed on Eckoh?s new state-of-the-art VoiceXML call platform which operates the very latest in speech recognition technology from Nuance. This new platform which goes live in the Summer will ensure that the technical performance of the Vue service and the accuracy of the speech recognition will be best in the market.



Telephonetics wins Empire Cinemas multi-year contract

Speech recognition and voice automation specialist Telephonetics has signed a multi-year contract with Empire Cinemas to supply its MovieLine automatic speech recognition (ASR) ticket booking and IT system to all of Empire's 17 UK cinema sites. 

The company grabbed the Empire deal from rival firm Eckoh, which has been working with Empire for the last three years. 

Speech recognition specialist Eckoh leaps ahead on new contract wins

Eckoh is the UK's largest provider of "hosted speech recognition services" with some very big name clients to its credit.

Today, the company gave us a trading update from which it would seem that the infernal things aren't going away. Quite the contrary in fact, as Eckoh reckons it's benefiting from the economic crisis as the large organisations it serves look to cut costs by using Eckoh's services instead of call centres. The lesser of two evils perhaps?

Last year, Eckoh made an operating loss of £2.75m, but that has been turned around and today we learn that profit that will be in line with market expectations as the company's Speech Solutions division has been doing so well.

Eckoh has also managed to improve margins and reduce admin costs by 25%. And the best thing of all is that the company has a nice big cash pile of over £5m -- representing over a third of the value of the entire company. Also, at the last count, the company had an overall net asset value of £9.6m.


Speech recognition: Eckoh plc

Early last year Nik Philpott and Adam Maloney found themselves at the centre of a media storm over potentially damaging claims that their premium rate telephony services had short changed callers to TV shows including Channel 4’s ‘Richard and Judy’. 

Two years on and the chief executive and finance director of AIM listed Eckoh plc have breathed new life into a business that endured a PR disaster which at its height saw it pilloried in the press virtually every day. 

Indeed, for a time it wasn’t just Eckoh’s reputation on the line but the entire market for call-ins and competitions that had hooked media owners been scrambling to find ways of propping up flagging ad revenues.
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Eckoh wins multi-million pound contract from global financial services company

Eckoh plc, the UK’s largest provider of hosted speech recognition services, has signed a three year multi-million pound contract with a global financial services company to provide an automated telephony self-service platform for handling customer enquiries across Europe.
The contract is forecast to start generating revenue by the fourth quarter of the current financial year, and to reach full run rate well in excess of £1 million per annum in the first half of the next financial year.
As stated in the preliminary results announcement on 4 August 2008, Eckoh have been working with BT to create a network which will allow calls to be delivered from all major European territories to Eckoh’s call processing platform in the UK. Through the agreement this client will be the first to utilise the new capability and it underlines Eckoh’s ability to now provide cost-effective hosting facilities on a pan-European basis to major global businesses. [click heading for more]

Eckoh FY pretax loss widens; offer talks on, no bids on table currently

Eckoh Plc. posted a wider full-year pretax loss as revenues fell versus last year but said, following the completion of its restructuring programme, it has a strong balance sheet and is now well positioned to capitalise on medium to long term trends.
For the year ended March 31, 2008, the group reported a pretax loss of 2.2 million pounds versus a restated 615,000 pounds last year as revenues plunged to
25.6 million from a restated 77.6 million a year ago.
The company said negative stories on the use of premium rate telephony in broadcasting resulted in a huge reduction in the number of calls into its premium rate services and consequential reduction in its revenues. On July 6, 2007, Eckoh had said premium rate services regulator ICSTIS had fined it a record 150,000 pounds over the conduct of the Richard and Judy Show's 'You Say We Pay' competition.
In its statement Monday, the UK's largest provider of hosted speech recognition services added that offer discussions have continued with various parties but none of the discussions at this stage contemplate an offer being made for the entire issued share capital of the company. [click heading for more]

BT and Eckoh win a three year contract with the Ministry of Justice

[nik's note: I can't help but feel a certain satisfaction with this announcement - in a sense this was orginally my 'baby' when I was at BT - where I proposed and specified the first Magistrates Eckoh/BT fine payment voice self-service solution. Glad to see it has come of age.. :-) ]

BT and Eckoh’s hosted solution to provide an automated fine payment service for all Magistrates’ Courts across England and Wales
BT and Eckoh, the UK’s largest provider of hosted speech recognition services, today announced that they have been awarded a new three year, multi-million pound contract with the Ministry of Justice, to provide an automated fine payment service for Magistrates’ Courts (“Courts”) across England and Wales. BT and Eckoh will also supply the live contact centre operation to support the automated service, providing the Courts with a complete end-to-end telephony solution. [click heading for more]

Eckoh on the right track with new deal

[nik's note:]

Technology developed Eckoh plc and BT is being used to underpin a new text-based rail journey planning service from National Rail Enquiries.
TrainTracker Text (TTT), which went live in April, is the SMS equivalent of National Rail’s automated speech service TrainTracker and allows customers to obtain real-time arrival and departure information for UK journeys.Hemel Hempstead-based Eckoh and BT have been strategic partners in speech recognition for last five years and were both behind the launch of TrainTracker in January 2005, which currently handles an average 15,000 calls a day and up to 50,000 calls per day during severe rail service disruptions.TTT will be fully integrated with National Rail Enquiries’ journey planning engine, ensuring that up to the minute and consistent information is given to travellers, irrespective of channel. It uses the same ‘built in intelligence’ as the speech service to recognise callers and to anticipate their requests. [click heading for more]