• July 22, 2008
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Verizon Launches Hosted Speech Platform

Verizon Business recently launched Open Hosted Speech Services (OHSS), a speech platform that allows customers to create and host their own speech applications while they continue to rely on Verizon Business' broader speech platform.

OHSS includes Nuance Communications' Open Speech Recognition (OSR) engine as part of the same shared network services that are used for Verizon's interactive voice response (IVR) platform. Also included:

  • a hosted IVR application;
  • a VoiceXML interpreter;
  • text-to-speech capabilities; and
  • a speaker verification application.
Verizon Business' professional services team can assist customers in developing and deploying applications that the customers themselves can host. That team can also help customers integrate OHSS with Verizon Business' other contact center solutions. In addition, OHSS customers have access to a full reporting suite that includes detailed billing backup and performance maintenance through the Verizon Enterprise Center. The reporting captures daily, weekly, and monthly speech application activity and allows users to access that information from any computer at any time.

OHSS gives users the flexibility and oversight typically associated with on-premises solutions without the large capital costs or burden of platform management. Applications typically reside on the customer's servers but can be executed on Verizon Business' Hosted IVR platform or on another platform of the customer's choosing, explains Tom Smith, Verizon Business' senior manager of IVR, speech, and IPCC product marketing.

"OHSS combines the benefits of hosted services -- such as reliability, geographic redundancy, automatic technology upgrades, and low total cost of ownership -- with the security and control that were previously only available in a premises-based solution," Mike Marcellin, vice president of global product marketing at Verizon Business, said in a statement.

As for the applications themselves, "there really are no limits as to the functionality -- just that they have to be based on VoiceXML 2.0," Smith says. Though the speech applications currently included are from Nuance, he says there's no requirement that the situation will have to remain that way. "We could conceivably work with other vendors going forward. There is nothing to prevent us from adding others."

OHSS is expected to be an attractive option for companies in the financial services, healthcare, government, and retail sectors, companies that Smith identifies as "the typical adopters of speech technologies." Smith says that he expects OHSS to appeal to large enterprises with sizable and highly experienced IT organizations but also to smaller enterprises that do not want to create and manage their own applications.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com. 

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