• July 18, 2006
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

VoiceObjects Opens Its Ears Wider to Personalization

Phone application server company VoiceObjects unloaded a series of announcements on Tuesday, most notably the general availability of its VoiceObjects 6 product line. VoiceObjects Server, the cornerstone of the offering, is available in two versions: Enterprise Edition and Network Edition, with the latter targeting telecommunications carriers looking to host phone applications for other organizations. The company is billing the product as a phone application server, software for carrier-grade deployment and management of phone-based self-service apps. These help organizations deliver a more personalized experience, paralleling Web sites like Amazon.com that provide tailored pages to its customer base. "Consumers often times are greeted with an automated system and a lot of times they're frustrating to use," says Bonnie Crater, most recently senior vice president and general manager of Salesforce.com's service and support business unit, now VoiceObjects' senior vice president of marketing. "We want to make it a personalized, richer experience. There's a big opportunity with current dissatisfaction with current systems." All phone application servers have four capabilities, according to VoiceObjects:
  • The ability to generate VoiceXML to create personalized dialogs using information from an organization's CRM system or other databases: "Traditionally it's been very difficult for application developers to deploy these personalized applications because it requires you to create so many different prompts and so many different dialogs," says Sanjay Popli, VoiceObjects' vice president of product marketing. Now, "you can create these personalized prompts quickly, as well as make changes."
  • An application execution environment supporting remote management and monitoring of multimodal applications, and online application maintenance for immediate changes or rollbacks
  • Web services support for integration between an organization's phone-based self-service and its CRM, ERP, and other IT in SOA environments
  • Support for multimodal phone applications that may include voice, video, graphics, and text interfaces For the organization, phone application servers simplify complex personalization and integration efforts and improve application management, says Daniel Hong, senior voice business analyst at Datamonitor. "For the customer, it creates value by streamlining and personalizing calls to reduce transaction times and improve customer satisfaction." Other capabilities included in VoiceObjects 6 outside of VoiceObjects Server are an administration and application management desktop, a developer studio, and an analytics offering that provides drill-down analytics. On the fiscal front, the company also announced that it has closed $10.8 million in venture capital funding provided by existing investors Deutsche Telekom's T-Venture, Enjoyventure, SAP's investment arm SAP Ventures, Telesoft Partners, and Wellington Partners. This wave brings the company's total venture capital raised to $35 million. VoiceObjects intends to use the new funds to enhance its U.S. sales and marketing efforts and continue developing its product offerings. The company has also continued its internal restructuring with new executive appointments. Aside from Crater's appointment as senior vice president of marketing, Kendra Borrego, most recently IMPAC Medical Systems' CFO and vice president of finance, joins VoiceObjects as CFO. VoiceObjects recently announced the appointment of Beatriz Infante as VoiceObjects' president and CEO. Hong says that large enterprises looking to add a level of sophistication to their IVR and speech applications and extend their self-service capabilities, and service providers that are consolidating their existing IVR investments around VoiceXML, should keep an eye on the release and VoiceObjects as a whole. Datamonitor estimates that the phone-based self-service apps market will grow to more than $1.2 billion in 2009. "As more organizations move to open standards and increase their IVR and speech capacity and capability, deploying a flexible management framework will become crucial." Related articles: Avoiding the Speech Rec. Wreck SOA Simple On the Scene--Talk Good: Best Practices in Speech Deployment
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