The Advantages of On-Demand Speech Technology


SpeechTEK 2009:This year's closing keynote panel examines speech solutions delivered via the software-as-a-service model.


Early in the session, Nancy Jamison, a market analyst for Jamison Consulting, asked panelists to define what made the hosted model unique.

RJ Auburn, chief technology officer for Voxeo, said that one of the big advantages of managed services and SaaS is the ability to provide redundancy — even in a hybrid or on-premises implementation. He cited as an example a contact center that handles its typical call volume via on-premises ports, but rents extra ports from a vendor to handle seasonal spikes in trafiic. The contact center can use its own ports the rest of the year, possibly saving some money without sacrificing the control provided by the on-premises option.

SaaS models also allow enterprises to leverage technologies that might be too complex and/or too expensive to implement themselves. Paul Watson, general manager of multichannel and self-care solutions for Convergys, pointed specifically to speaker verification as one such example. Installed as an on-premises technology, Watson argued, voice biometrics can require prohibitive capital investment for licensing, infrastructure, and training; not only does the SaaS model address those concerns, he said, but it makes the technology more manageable and quicker to implement.

Jamie Bertasi, the senior vice president of enterprise at Microsoft subsidiary Tellme, said that one of the biggest advantages of SaaS and managed solutions is the ability to tune a system with every call, quickly and efficiently, making that system more powerful over time.

Voxify Executive Vice President Daniel Reed agreed, adding that a managed-services environment also enables vendors to “aggregate data for the benefit of individuals.” In other words, a vendor draws from the well of its experience, making increasing its competence and capabilities with each deployment.

Auburn, Reed's colleague at Voxeo, noted another advantage of a hosted environment: technology updates and the ability to keep systems and platforms evergreen with the latest advances. Some contact centers. he pointed out, are running legacy hardware but competing against newer, easier systems. “There are a lot of old, scary boxes sitting in basements [for 10 years at a time]," he said. "Having the technology move forward is very, very valuable.”

The panel agreed broadly that one of the main advantages of SaaS is speed of deployment, but also cautioned that sufficient attention must be paid to the implementation.

“Talk to people about their experience with speech and you’ll get very mixed results,” Tellme's Bertasi said. “We can be fast all we want, but if it doesn’t work — whatever the reasons are that things go wrong — we’re not, and our clients are not, going to achieve [our] goals.”

Bertasi also argued that systems continuing to move callers through the call flow in a very serial manner miss the point entirely. Good design, she said, helps users achieve goals quickly.

Despite the panel’s consensus on some matters, the stage also saw its share of occasional disagreement. Panelists, speaking to an audience of potential customers, vied to push their messages and wares within the allotted time constraints.

In one exchange, as Convergys's Watson had begun to wrap up an overview of his company's offerings, Voxeo's Auburn pointedly asked how many of Convergys’s ports were VoiceXML-enabled. Watson replied that he didn’t have an exact figure, but that it was above 50 percent. The exchange was polite but also illustrative of how competitive the hosted space -- with its multiplicity of vendors and plans from which to choose -- can be.

Voxeo and Nu Echo Announce Plan to Speed Development of Voice Applications

Starting today, Voxeo will offer Nu Echo's NuGram grammar development tool in an integrated package with Voxeo's VoiceObjects Service Creation Environment. This integration allows developers to easily create either static or dynamic grammars that can be used with VoiceObjects technology to efficiently build multichannel self-service applications.

Voxeo CEO Unveils Tropo, a New Kind of Cloud-Based Telephony Platform

This may sound like a strange task for the world’s largest provider of hostedVoiceXML services: create something for developers who want to write voice applications in different languages.

But that’s exactly what Orlando-based Voxeo Corporation is targeting with Tropo, a high-performance, cloud-based telephony platform that allows developers – in fact, already has seen developers – create and deploy applications in Groovy, JavaScript, PHP, Python and Ruby.

Voxeo Acquires VoiceObjects

Voxeo, which produces standards-based voice applications, reported Tuesday that it has acquired VoiceObjects.
Voxeo, which seeks to develop easy-to-use voice products, said VoiceObjects, which provides self-service application development analytics solutions, will assist users in developing phone applications that can be deployed on VoiceXML platforms. 
[click heading for more]

IVR: Hosted, On-premises, or Both?

Hosted solutions and SaaS models have recently garnered a lot of attention, largely because of the cost benefits they offer. Of course, the on-premises market is still thriving as well. But an interesting hybrid has also emerged, with companies like Voxeo, which offers both on-premises and hosted solutions that enable businesses to develop and deploy voice applications for a variety of uses easily and quickly — and affordably. [click heading for more]

Frost & Sullivan Recognizes Voxeo for Prophecy, Its Pioneering Interactive Voice Response Platform for Enterprises

Based on its recent analysis of the interactive voice response (IVR) market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Voxeo with the exclusive 2008 North American Frost & Sullivan Award for Product Innovation for its Prophecy IVR platform, a proven, reliable, and flexible solution for VoiceXML application development and deployment. [click heading for more]

Voxeo Makes Multi-Tenant IVR Virtualization a Reality for OEM Partners

Voxeo Corporation today announced the availability of its proven IVR and SIP hosting infrastructure as a completely re-brandable, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering. Vendors can OEM the Voxeo solution to quickly and easily launch their own branded, standards-based IVR hosting services. [click heading for more]

Equals Party LineTM Application Calls on Voxeo Platform to Bring Voice to Social Networking

[nik's note: yet more disruption in the voice market - I love it! :-) ]

Voxeo Corporation announced today that Equals ( has selected the Voxeo Prophecy Platform for the development and delivery of its new Party Line™ application on Facebook.
Party Line adds voice to social networking by enabling group phone chats that can be instantly launched with a single mouse click right from Facebook. Facebook members can alternatively dial 877 4 BUZZ ME (1 877 428 9963) from their mobile phone and Equals will dial out and add the other users to the Party Line. Users can create an unlimited number of Party Lines ranging from movie and dinner friends to golf buddies -- with each Party Line consisting of up to five people. The application is free, set up is easy, and there are no software downloads, conference bridge numbers or passcodes to remember. [click heading for more]

VOXEO and Promero Sign Channel Partnership Agreement

Promero announced it is adding Voxeo’s standards-based Prophecy voice platform to their portfolio of exclusive contact center solutions. Voxeo’s platform permits Promero to offer hosted and premise-based Interactive Voice Response (IVR) applications to improve customer service and reduce costs.

Gregg Troyanowski, president of Promero said of Voxeo: “Voxeo’s flexible SIP voice platform provides easy, straightforward integration with Promero’s other offerings, including Contact Center Anywhere and Siebel CRM.” He continued, “The battle-tested solution enables Promero to deliver high-quality voice applications and deployment options that meet a wide range of customer needs.” [click heading for more]