IVR Solution to Voice XML Delays

Why is the conversion process of developing Voice MXL applications taking so long on IVR platforms?

VMXL provides an open standard to develop applications, it fits in to the general IT infrastructure, so why haven’t proprietary platform manufacturers really bought into it?

True VXML initially did not bring as much to the table, but Voice XML is now being hailed as the industry open standard for IVR having been identified as the next generation IVR platform standard, providing greater levels of interoperability and flexibility, enhanced application development capabilities for DTMF and speech applications, investment protection and lower total cost of ownership.

In the early 2000’s many manufactures strategically sought to use proprietary products that developed long term relationship with their customers, perhaps even to “lock them in” and ignored VXML , as that did not bring as much to the table.

In the period between 2004-2006 there was a number of market driven changes where new management moved from one propriety brand of platform to another. Still the applications were written into a proprietary environment as VXML would provide flexibility and portability that threatened to not tie the customer in.

The VXML open standards based solutions, marked the next evolutionary step in IVR technology, as it becomes part of the classic IT infrastructure and will open up new application areas such as large vocabulary speech recognition, multi-modal and video, outside the traditional scope of phone applications. There have been several drivers to the uptake of VoiceXML since its commercial release in 2000.

The slow death of traditional IVR – Traditional IVR solution investments from the late 1990s to the early-to-mid 2000s are reaching end of life and VoiceXML have begun accounting for the majority of licenses since 2008.

Organizations have to come to the decision on when to migrate to VoiceXML. It’s not a question of if but when. IVR consolidation and optimization are one of the significant attractions to invest in VoiceXML. The availability of open standards-based platforms minimizes the risk for application upgrades, expansions and consolidations. Organizations can replace a VoiceXML platform for another without major integration efforts, protecting investments and preventing vendor lock-in.

VoiceXML is unique in that whilst some IVR vendors may not be around or get acquired by other vendor, the open standard will remain over the long-term. Therefore organizations can replace their platform with another platform from another vendor without the need for extensive application rewrites or upgrades.

Taking advantage of economies of scale to become more agile – With VoiceXML, organizations have more resources available to create, tune or modify their IVR applications. Old proprietary language system programming staff are very expensive. Proprietary development environment skill sets are no longer needed as organizations are able to standardize on a VoiceXML platform and service creation environments. These resources could include their web development teams as VoiceXML is based on standard web languages, like Java. The result is an infrastructure that allows the company to be more agile and adapt their IVR solution to short-term opportunities at an affordable cost.

While VoiceXML has been commercially deployed in the market for several years, there is still concern around;

Investment in traditional IVR systems – Reluctance to undertake a major upgrade of existing IVR platforms, having made significant investments in these platforms. Apart from the capital expenditure, these investments need training for staff to maintain and constantly improve the platform as necessary and the cost of re-training staff on a VoiceXML platform may not be an route some companies want go through.

VoiceXML is sometimes viewed as new in the slow moving telephony market and some companies take a ‘suck it and see’ approach to discover how this can further enhance their processes.

Some organizations have built or are building their own traditional IVR systems in-house. However, one of the major disadvantages with going down this route is performance as they will not have the in-house technology expertise to build robust, high performance, mission critical IVR platforms that work effectively in a service provider environment. Moreover, creating proprietary IVR systems limits innovation and development capabilities, and in the longer term is much more expensive to sustain and maintain. The total cost of ownership is onerous as every change in the environment around the IVR necessitates an accommodating change to the IVR solution.

So how can you get the best of both worlds by taking advantage of the flexible application?

Eckoh has adopted a totally open standards-based JAVA development framework embracing the open-source community methodologies available in the Eclipse IDE, and using Plug-ins for almost every possible Language and methodology. This enables applications developed in this environment to run on any vxml 2.1 compliant IVR Platform. It allows Eckoh to build and reuse common elements many times and has been extended by the creation of Eckoh’s Application Center™ which reduces the standard development time by an average of 40% and provides a process for converting proprietary IVR applications and creating open, standards-based IVR solutions. The same platform enables developers to prototype and deploy new next generation applications faster thus reducing the risk and cost of building solutions from scratch.

This standard based development process uses many of the same components used to build internet web sites, so it is also possible to blend the voice and web channel. Enterprises need and wants to offer their stakeholders who transact with them the same experience irrespective of the media channel they choose to use to communicate. . Imagine how frustrating it is to get a different answer about your bank balance on the web compared to using the phone. These different communication channels need to offer the same consistent information in a standardized way. Standard based solutions generated with this environment ensure that this is the case.

Why not talk to Eckoh to see how we can help provide you with an IVR solution.

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Posted by eckoh at 11:07 AM on Jan 29, 2012

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