Under a new partnering deal SAP is integrating VoiceObjects' phone application server technology into its own NetWeaver platform. The technology will enable easy input and access to SAP applications via the telephone.
The phone application server links third-party interactive voice response (IVR) systems, such as those from Avaya, Genesys, and Nortel, to the SAP applications via a media platform driver. This allows end users to receive data via text-to-speech or audio recording, and to interact with the system using speech recognition or other IVR systems.
The phone application server features the following: VoiceXML: enables user to generate VoiceXML to create personalized dialogues at each call with each individual caller
Application Execution Environment: supports remote management and monitoring of multimodal applications as well as online application maintenance for changes or rollbacks
Web Services Support: supports integration of a company's phone-based self-service solutions with its CRM, ERP, and other applications in a service-oriented architecture
Multimodal Phone Application Support: supports media such as voice, video, graphics, and text interfaces for mobile phones, PDAs, et cetera.
SAP NetWeaver is provided as a general-purpose platform. The components that deliver these capabilities are:SAP Enterprise Portal: provides a portal infrastructure along with knowledge management and collaboration software
SAP Business Intelligence: enables companies to identify, integrate, and analyze business data from different sources
SAP Master Data Management: provides information to different applications across the enterprise
SAP Exchange Infrastructure: provides open integration technologies that support collaboration among SAP and non-SAP components
SAP Mobile Infrastructure: supports multichannel access through voice and mobile technology
SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure: provides an auto-ID middleware solution
SAP Web Application Server: a development and deployment platform that supports Web services, business applications, and standards-based development based on technologies such as J2EE and ABAP
This partnership opens up opportunities from both industries' perspectives. "A stronger go-to-market strategy between SAP and VoiceObjects is an excellent development as speech-enabled applications get woven into enterprise business processes that transcend the contact center. That's where the growth is," says Dan Miller, founder and senior analyst of Opus Research.
"I have been in the software business for 25 years and this is the first time that I have seen an enterprise software company focus on a middleware architecture to extend their applications to the phone," says Bonnie Crater, senior vice president of marketing at VoiceObjects. "This is a major shift. If you look at all the business application vendors out there and what they are doing, this is the first time that a really robust approach is being used to deliver these applications. It will make these applications much easier to develop, to maintain, and will lower cost overall."
Opportunities are not limited to the industry. End users also have much to gain from this intersection of technologies. "SAP has over 80,000 customers today and all of those customers will be able to extend their NetWeaver implementations to the phone. With the combination of applications provided by VoiceObjects embedded into NetWeaver, [end users] will be able to access those applications by the phone," Crater explains.
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