Vouching for VoiceXML
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories kicked off its entertaining G-Force Las Vegas 2006 user conference on Monday, less than three weeks after completing its acquisition of VoiceGenie Technologies. The bulk of the keynote, delivered by Wes Hayden, president of CEO on Tuesday to more than 1,200 attendees, highlighted the evolution of the contact center, along with the recent acquisition and product road maps.
A few moments into the address Hayden turned to a personal experience to discuss common frustration associated with the contact center experience. "I have a problem," he said. "I don't like to call call centers." He realized this moving into a new house about six months ago, when reaching out to service providers like the electric company to make mailing address changes. Two elements that helped Hayden form this conclusion were the inconsistency of the call center experience and his personal opinion that when he calls a center, the reps he interacts with don't know enough about him. "They know my billing transactions, they know how long I've been a customer," he says. "But they don't know what I could represent to the company in terms of a relationship. Sometimes it's because they don't have the information, but...more likely most of the time it's because they don't have access to the information that would help them understand how to deal with me better."
Hayden also highlighted what he referred to as the contact center capability maturity model, which is segmented into four phases: establishment, consolidation, performing, and optimizing. The establishment phase includes basics like bringing in staff and implementing telecom equipment. The next level, the consolidation phase, includes basic queue routing, along with deploying an IVR as well as some CTI capabilities. Most companies are either in the establishment phase or the consolidation phase, according to Hayden. The performing phase is where organizations engage in customer segmentation and refine their IVR strategy, with Hayden noting that in this phase customers are using speech effectively and making routing decisions based on insight from analytics. During the optimizing phase organizations extend enterprise communication throughout the enterprise, while integrating business processes with interactions so that the business has a more complete customer profile.
Amidst his categorization of the performance phase, Hayden discussed the VoiceGenie Technologies acquisition, which closed May 5. The move, announced in early April (three days after Genesys' parent company, Alcatel, announced its merger agreement with Lucent Technologies) is Genesys' latest acquisition play since being acquired by Alcatel in 2000. Genesys acquired IBM's computer telephony software CallPath in 2001 and VoiceXML solutions provider Telera in 2002, eventually using Telera's functionality to build its successful Genesys Voice Portal (GVP); Alcatel announced the acquisition of Brazilian-based voice self-service solutions provider GMK in January.
The VoiceGenie deal is expected to broaden Genesys' VoiceXML software standards approach to voice self-service space. It's a "very strategic decision for us," Hayden said, adding that Genesys is "absolutely convinced the VoiceXML is the platform of the future."
Aladdin, the deal's code name, is now the project name for integrating the Genesys and VoiceGenie platforms. While Genesys plans to deliver the next two releases of GVP and the next two releases on the drawing board for VoiceGenie, the beta release of the combined platform is expected to be available during the second half of 2007, according to Hayden. This will be followed by general availability in the first half of 2008. Perhaps more important, however, Genesys will continue to support existing platforms for a minimum of four years.
Daniel Hong, senior voice business analyst at Datamonitor, is optimistic about the acquisition. Genesys "inherited a lot of strong, robust technology from VoiceGenie," he says. And while players like Avaya, Intervoice, and Nortel have had substantial success selling traditional IVR systems, these vendors "really have to look at this."
Genesys did not make any product announcements at the conference, but it did announce that partners BCE Elix, Siemens, and Viecore have gained gold partner certification. In weeks leading up to G-Force Genesys introduced the Genesys Customer Interaction Portal for Self-Service and released version 7.2 of its contact center suite.
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