Talk It, Don't Type It

Virtual Management plans to put secretaries out of their jobs, or so its product launch would indicate. The company today announced the seamless integration of its Electronic Virtual Assistant (EVA) into Microsoft Outlook. This new synchronization promises to enable users to update all current contact and scheduling information through the use of voice technology rather than by typing or dictating. Virtual Management developed EVA, its flagship product, to overcome a barrier in CRM software implementation. "What we found, being in the CRM market for 10 years, is that a lot of salespeople struggle with data entry," says Eric Tippetts, executive vice president of worldwide sales. "We asked ourselves, How do you make it extremely simple for salespeople to get information out of their head and to keep them focused on selling?" The Utah-based company answered its own question by creating a voice-based service for users to dictate important information through a handheld unit or call-in system while on the road and have it appear on their office computer within minutes. The ability to "voice in" information saves sales representatives time at the office and ensures a more open and accurate information share. Troy Ebbert, vice president of sales and marketing for Ebbert Company, a construction manufacturers' representation firm, relates how he first implemented EVA to allow better communication among his eight sales representatives. "Without EVA, if a manufacturer called looking for information about his product, I would be making eight different sales calls, having eight different conversations, and writing this all down. What was taking hours or a weekend of my time is now literally taking minutes," he says. According to Virtual Management, the integration into Microsoft Outlook will make EVA more accessible to a greater number of companies that already employ the voice application; Outlook, a product with more than 380 million users, is an attractive first step for the company. Tibbett predicts that EVA will soon power a number of software and on-demand CRM offerings. The company already has joined forces with Siebel Systems, Salesforce.com, and NetSuite to offer more effective solutions. Frank Bernhard, managing principal for Omni Research Group, sees EVA's integration as filling in a hole such platforms had left open. "The secret sauce behind the solution is I can change how I can use this product to immediately repopulate my Outlook," he says. "It's basically taking Outlook to another level by eliminating steps people have not been able to skip in the past." Related articles: A Voice Self-Service Surge
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