• October, 18 2004
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Can You Here Me Now?

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VoiceXML, or Voice Extensible Markup Language, has made its way into the contact center and is bringing standards to the IVR. According to the VoiceXML Forum, VoiceXML uses speech recognition and touch tone on the input portion of an interaction, with prerecorded audio and text-to-speech synthesis for output. "You are basically interacting with a voice browser," says Ronald Gruia, program leader, enterprise solutions, at Frost & Sullivan.
"VoiceXML is a standard language for developing basically automated applications for interactive voice response systems," says Kevin Chatow, Nuance principal product manager. Prior to VoiceXML, Chatow says, each IVR vendor had its own proprietary languages accompanied by high development costs, a limited pool of developers, no portability across platforms of applications, and limited flexibility in deployment options. "With VoiceXML [which is] based all on Web standards, it's very distributed in nature," he says. As an open standard VoiceXML frees users from being locked into technology silos, while alleviating portability and cost headaches, proponents say. In the past companies would be "trapped in the technology silo," says Daniel Hong, CRM analyst at Datamonitor. "If they wanted to upgrade they'd have to go through that same vendor, so essentially these companies were able to get high margins from that technology locked in. VoiceXML is a lot better for the industry because it not only increases competition...but now there are a lot more vendors out there, so the solution is evolving at a quicker rate and is more viable than before."
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