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The 2011 Market Leaders

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SPEECH SELF-SERVICE SUITE

The Market
Though the struggling economy has squeezed sales of IVR systems, slowing growth the past two years, that’s starting to change. The world market for IVR is expected to regain some strength in the medium to long term, as frozen funds thaw. In fact, DMG Consulting expects the market to reach $2.3 billion by the end of the year and maintain modest single-digit growth through 2012.

Global Industry Analysts (GIA) predicts growth will be especially strong in financial services, where many companies are dealing with restructurings, mergers, and acquisitions after the recession. GIA expects growth will not be driven by large enterprises, which it says have reached the saturation point with IVR technologies. While many larger firms might be looking to replace first-generation systems with newer ones, the real new business generator will be small and midsize firms. Also steering that change will be a focus on benchmarking customer experiences; the use of more sophisticated voice portals; advanced speech, touchtone, and multimodal interfaces; and a push toward IVR optimization that will lead to system upgrades.

The bottom line, analysts say, is that the sluggish economy has not changed the fact that IVRs still offer cost efficiencies and superior customer experiences. And with the momentum shift away from proprietary hardware and software to open-source platforms, making those changes will be easier than ever.

The Leaders
Alcatel-Lucent’s Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories division this year again was named an industry leader, a distinction it has held since 2009. In fact, Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal at McGee-Smith Analytics, calls Genesys’ approach to self-service “best in class.”

Of particular interest was the launch of the Conversation Manager, a key component of its Intelligent Customer Front Door (iCFD) and Genesys 8 platform. Conversation Manager, which soon will be available as a stand-alone offering, helps to create a unified view of customer interactions across multiple channels, including contact centers, the Web, mobile phones, and social media. It also didn’t hurt that the company finished in the top four in depth of functionality and customer satisfaction and was first in the ability to integrate category with a 4.5.

SpeechCycle this year reprises its role as an industry leader, a title it has not held since 2008. It scored an industry-leading 4.25 in the variety of delivery methods area and will take that further with the advancement of its efforts in self-service via the smartphone. In March, the company launched a division dedicated to mobile customer care solutions and introduced its first application, SmartCare Mobile, two weeks later. SpeechCycle also is a pioneer in multimodal inputs, with its T3 (touch, type, talk) interface and natural language understanding.

The Winner
Voxeo, nearly two points ahead of its nearest rival, was propelled by an industry-leading 4.8 in the variety of delivery methods and a 4.9 in the ability to customize solutions. The company continues to reap the rewards of its VoiceObjects acquisition in 2008. Voxeo also is pushing unified self-service and the use of VoiceXML to build an application that works via voice, Web, text messaging, email, and video. “Voxeo has a very standards-compliant focus,” says Deborah Dahl, principal at speech and language consulting firm Conversational Technologies and chair of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Multimodal Interaction Working Group. Voxeo also “gives companies an interesting new choice for self-service that’s not tied to or burdened by a full contact center suite,” McGee-Smith adds.

Vendor Contender

West Interactive made the leaderboard in 2007 and has been absent since then. The company, which acquired Holly Connects and TuVox in mid-2010, scored an industry-leading 4.6 in depth of functionality and collected high marks in all of the other criteria except cost, where it posted a 3.3. Nonetheless, that West made two key acquisitions in IVR alone shows the company is committed to the speech self-service market and its customers. The company, which also acquired Twenty First Century Communications, a provider of automated alerts and notification solutions, and Smoothstone IP Communications during the past year, shows that it is expanding its business.
—Leonard Klie

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