• October 10, 2006
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Cisco Refreshes Its Speech Self-Service Solution

Cisco Systems today has released a new version of its speech self-service solution, Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal (CVP) 4.0, which incorporates capabilities inherited from the company's June acquisition of Audium, a provider of speech self-service application development and management environments. The release comes roughly two years after Cisco's last major upgrade to its speech self-service solution, version 3.0. Unified CVP 4.0 is part of Cisco's Unified Contact Center solutions portfolio, which is a component of Cisco's broader Unified Communications suite of voice, data, and video products. Additional enhancements to the Unified Communications Suite include a new Cisco IP telephone, a new desktop integration application, and enhanced scalability for conferencing, messaging, and call processing solutions. The enhancements, including Unified CVP, are generally available today. Much of Unified CVP's shored up functionality centers on improving service creation environments; prior to the acquisition Cisco had been OEMing Audium capabilities for about two years. This chunk of the upgraded release is "essentially updating the service creation environment with the Audium purchase," says Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst of McGee-Smith Analytics. "There are certain things you can do when you're OEMing and there's a different level that you can do once you own them like get tighter integration." "We are looking forward to much tighter integration with the Audium components into the Cisco environment," says Sean O'Connell, senior product marketing manager at Cisco. "The key themes there in this improved service creation capability are around enhancing productivity, enabling consistency, enhanced personalization, and increased reliability." O'Connell adds that because of Audium's open architecture it supported other competitive voice self-service systems, which will enable Cisco to support these third-party environments. "We want to enable [customers] to choose the environments that they need to support," he says. "So eventually what they could do is if they have one of these third-party voice self-service environments, through Audium they could then begin to migrate to the Cisco Unified CVP platform over time." Other improvements include operations, administration, maintenance, and provisioning (OAM&P) capabilities, which essentially provide companies with the ability to centrally support a distributed Unified CVP environment. The release also features enhanced standards support with SIP call control and support for VoiceXML 2.1 and MRCP v2. Additional improvements include enhanced reporting capabilities like tighter integration between Unified CVP and its ICM (Intelligent Call Management) product, and more detailed self-service call flow reporting. "Once you've acquired somebody one of the things we're expecting to see from all of the contact center vendors is the ability to have a service creation environment or a design tool that goes across IVR [and] routing," McGee-Smith says. "Today the ACD and the IVR each have their own design tools. But if you think of the Nortel Applications Center, the vision there is to have a single service creation environment across voice messaging, IVR, and ACD. So to me this announcement from Cisco starts saying we're now upping the ante on our service creation environment, we are taking advantage of the assets of this acquisition that we made. One might expect to see that over time they'll extend it even further into the rest of their contact center product line." Related articles: Cisco Acquires Metreos and Audium
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