Most Innovative Solutions Awards 2005

According to Daniel Hong, voice business analyst at Datamonitor, the global voice business value chain* will grow from $716 million for 2004 to $1,939 million by 2009 at a CAGR of 22 percent.  Speech Technology Magazine presents the third annual Most Innovative Solutions awards in recognition of the enterprises and service providers who are deploying innovative speech applications driving this growth. These applications are an integral touch point of their customers' contact with them and provide enhanced communication for employees.

To choose the 2005 Most Innovative Solutions, readers of Speech Technology Magazine and STM NewsBlast nominated companies who deployed speech recognition technologies to interface with their customers. A panel comprised of STM columnists and writers selected the top ten deployments who demonstrated creativity and innovation in their implementation of speech. The following are listed in alphabetical order and will be recognized at SpeechTEK 2005 in New York City on August 1-3.  Many of these companies will be presenting during the conference.

Aetna is one of the nation's leading providers of health care, dental, pharmacy, group life, disability and long-term care benefits, with approximately 14.4 million medical members, 12.8 million dental members, 9 million pharmacy members and 14 million group insurance members. It puts information and helpful resources to work to help members make better informed decisions about their health care and protect their finances against health-related risks.

Aetna Voice Advantage® (AVA), Aetna's speech application for members and health care providers, offers round-the-clock access to member information and self-service transactions. AVA answers nearly 100 percent of these calls. Many callers complete their inquiries via AVA without the need to speak to a customer service representative. If a caller asks to speak to a representative, AVA routes the call to one that specializes in the member's plan.    

Thanks to both online and speech self-service initiatives, Aetna reduced the number of incoming calls requiring a customer service representative by nine percent from 2003 to 2004.

Aetna continuously evaluates caller behaviors using diagnostic software, usability studies, and focus groups to identify caller needs.

Agile TV Corporation
AgileTV (http://www.agile.tv/) is the designer and implementer of Promptu, a search and voice navigation service enabling consumers to control their television viewing with spoken commands.

Promptu allows the digital cable TV customer to search and scan through hundreds of cable channels, and thousands of hours of "On Demand" content, to find programs of interest.  With simple, intuitive speech commands, users can select shows by program or channel name, actor, sports team, genre and more.  An out-of-the-box, plug and play product, Promptu requires no audio training by the customer.

Typical Promptu commands include:

  • Find "The West Wing"
  • Thursday, 8:00 p.m.
  • Find actress Penelope Cruz
  • Find the Giants
  • Scan cooking (or any of over 70 other programming categories)

AgileTV's distributed speech recognition technology scales from thousands to hundreds of thousands of voice-enabled customers, all served from a single cable system central office, or headend.  The product's server-centric architecture permits easy service capacity increases, upgrades of recognition technology, and rollout of new product features, all through hardware or software changes at the headend only.

With a potential market of over 70 million cable customers in the U.S. alone, AgileTV believes Promptu will be the first truly mass-market application of speech recognition technology.

Borgess Medical Center
Borgess Medical Center is a 424-bed teaching hospital linked with the Michigan State University Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies.  The hospital's goals were to increase transcription productivity by 20 percent, decrease report turnaround time and reduce outsourcing.  As a solution to the escalating costs, Borgess integrated the dictation workflow Fusion Text from Dolbey powered by SpeechMagic from Philips into its Electronic Health Record (EHR) system.

Borgess' average transcription productivity increased by more than 30 percent, individual productivity gains exceeded 70 percent, and a reduction in outsourced transcription services resulted in a 40 percent cost savings (more than $200,000 USD).  Turnaround time has been reduced from 24-96 hours to 4-72 hours.  Two staff members that left have not been replaced; the transcription team currently consists of 16 staff members.

In addition to the 129 physicians currently using speech recognition, (representing 61 percent of the total work volume), another 30 are in evaluation mode to be added shortly.

"The time is right for industrial-grade, medical speech recognition.  We are very proud of being at the forefront of this technological revolution.  And the results have proved us right," concludes Martha Morris, IT director with Borgess Medical Center.

CN Rail
CN employs over 22,000 people in Canada and the United States and operates in eight Canadian provinces and 16 U.S. states spanning Canada and mid-America with 19,300 route-miles of track.

CN needed a more efficient and cost-effective means of allowing its workers - some of whom are English speakers, others French - in the field to report their labor activities. CN sought to realize cost savings by reducing the manpower (60 live agents) required in its call center, reducing the reporting training requirements of its field personnel, lowering the cost of equipment, and saving time in the field with streamlined communications.

CN has now deployed a speech-recognition solution from Nortel Networks, which has speaker-verification capability to authenticate, with a voiceprint, enrolled employees before allowing access.

CN has also deployed a validation application, whereby a worker can go into the system at the end of a pay period and get a summary of his or her labor activities. CN is also looking to build on the success of these applications to deploy a speaker verified application for its train crews.

Empire Medicare Services
Empire Medicare Services (EMS) currently services five states in the NE: New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut and New Jersey. Their three call centers aid providers with information on patient eligibility, claim status, deductibles, procedure code pricing, payment status, phone numbers, addresses, Web sites and seminars.

With call volumes rising almost 30 percent every year, EMS call center needed a way to handle the increasing volume of calls from doctor's offices and hospitals.

To meet this need, a solution was designed for both portability and scalability, utilizing cutting-edge technology that was based upon open standards (VoiceXML) and reusable code.  

In just three months, EMS' new 192-port speech-enabled interactive voice response (IVR) solution now handles over 78 percent of its 15,000 incoming Part B calls per day.
As a result of the implementation, EMS achieved the best service level they have ever had on their busiest day of the year, "Black" Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Postbank AG
Postbank AG is the largest retail bank in Germany with 11.9 million customers. Postbank's customers manage 1.5 million checking accounts online and more than 2.5 million customers use the telephone banking service.

Postbank already used a touchtone/IVR for its telephone banking service. However, the features of this system didn't fit into the bank's new multi-channel strategy. To provide encompassing, user-friendly self-services and to increase acceptance among its end-customers, Postbank decided to re-launch the system. The new voice portal offers 24/7 self-services, such as money transfers, automated account balance announcement and information on banking products.

The provision of these self-services further reduced the workload for the call center agents, thus enabling a greater capacity for professional consulting services.

The modern, user-centric VUI offering four personas effectively helps users to quickly navigate to the topic of their interest. On average, 120,000 customers use the voice application each day. During peak periods up to 200,000 callers use the application.

Postbank plans to extend the number of ports from 750 to a total of 1,500.

Superior Court of Napa Valley
The Superior Court of California, County of Napa serves a population close to 132,000 spread across 754 square miles. Court proceedings and related functions are handled by close to 100 professionals, including six judges and two commissioners.

Every week, the court issues approximately 1,100 jury service summons and every week following issuance, it handles an average of 500 requests for Deferment of Service or Disqualification of a Juror. Like the jury system, employees in the Criminal and Traffic (or Minor Offense) divisions were often on the phone handling questions or talking with residents who had to come to the courthouse in person. 

American Telesource Inc. (ATI) showed Napa County how to improve caller service and reduce workload with an interactive voice solution built on proven Edify technology. This innovative e-government solution allows the public to obtain real-time information via the telephone at any time.

Thanks to automated processes, the court reduced jury staff from two full-time clerks to one clerk working less than full-time. Now, this professional handles all responsibilities and provides personal attention to jurors.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center provides world-class patient care and shapes tomorrow's health system through clinical innovation, biomedical and health services research, and education. 

UPMC recently introduced the Integrated Document Authoring System:  an optimized clinical document authoring workflow solution designed to provide a fast and easy way for the physicians to capture relevant medical information and decisions via dictation.  The implementation is based on cutting edge industry standards such as service-orientated architectures and enterprise application integration technologies leveraging Microsoft BizTalk 2004™.  The solution incorporates M*Modal's AnyModal™ Clinical Documentation Services (CDS) which provides advanced speech understanding technologies and clinical data services.

The system has positively impacted patient care by reducing the time for reports to become available and by creating consistently formatted and transportable clinical documents.

The IDAS system is currently being deployed in radiology departments across UPMC's sites, and in the near future, will be deployed into other departments and sub-specialties within the UPMC network.

Vodafone Australia
Vodafone Australia provides mobile telecommunications services to over 3 million Australian customers, and employs more than 1,200 people with offices around Australia.

Vodafone realized that by automating all or part of the registration process it was able to offer its customers a quick, easy and convenient way to join Vodafone. The potential for significant cost reduction was also possible so that they could pass these savings back to their customers.

Using speech recognition technology, Lara greets callers and talks them through the registration process. If the customer incurs any difficulties, Lara will transfer the caller to one of her colleagues in the contact center to complete the job.

Lara has also been proven through market research to provide a fantastic customer experience and it is continually being improved.

She has received industry recognition by winning the 2004 ScanSoft Best Practice award in Boca Raton, Fla. - the first time the award was granted outside the U.S.

Wyndham International is a hotel operating company, with over 150 upscale and luxury properties and some 36,000 rooms in the U.S., the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, and the U.K. With 2.5 million annual phone calls, the reservation center - through growth, acquisitions, and conversions - ended up with a variety of voice systems greeting and servicing callers.  Wyndham wanted to give callers a consistent experience that represented their brand.

Wyndham's goal with speech-enabled Automated Agents was to improve service levels, which they received along with cost improvements. An Automated Agent call saves 85 percent over the cost of a live agent call.

Wyndham is in the process of deploying Automated Agents to book, confirm, and cancel reservations, and to service calls regarding Wyndham ByRequest loyalty program. Once the additional Automated Agents are deployed, they will serve 45 percent of callers from greeting to completion.

*The figure reflects global spending on speech platforms, enabling software, applications and services from 2004 to 2009. It does not reflect spending on hosted speech revenues outside of applications and consulting/systems integration services.

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