The 2015 State of the Speech Technology Industry: Application Testing and Tuning
customer callback, visual IVR, and even voice-based authentication. Each new feature requires testing as it is introduced and tuning over time."
The testing part has always been much easier to sell than the tuning part, Kulkarni points out, but that is starting to change. "In the past, companies did a lot of testing before deployment but not a lot of tuning afterward," he says. "Now there's a lot more interest in tuning. Companies want to make changes on their own dynamically."
This is especially true among financial services firms, which Kulkarni says are by far the largest users of tuning and testing solutions. Other industries that are starting to step up their testing and tuning efforts include utilities, telephone carriers, governments, and managed services providers.
"The need to avoid catastrophic failures and business interruption extends to all professional services organizations associated with the contact center, including system integrators," Miller says.
"For industries with large customer bases and that serve customers largely through digital channels, it is extremely important to have the call routed right," Kulkarni adds. "They could lose millions every hour that the system does not work."
The need is especially urgent for companies that run outbound dialing campaigns, another burgeoning market for testing and tuning solutions. Outbound dialers require tuning and testing to get the progress detection just right. It is important to tune the pacing to avoid overdial call connects or connections when no agent is available, according to experts.
WebRTC Adds Challenges
Technology changes are affecting the testing and tuning landscape in other ways. A few years ago, the shift to VoIP phone networks provided a big lift to testing and tuning vendors. Now it's WebRTC, a new communications protocol that enables direct machine-to-machine communications by embedding real-time voice, text, and video communications capabilities in Web browsers.
WebRTC, which aims to make customer interaction with contact center agents much easier than before, is expected to be available to nearly 2 billion people worldwide by the end of 2016 and to 6 billion people by 2019. For a company such as IQ Services, that's a large market opportunity, Zilles says. "WebRTC is a combination of several unique technologies," he adds, noting that testing needs to involve not only the underlying Internet connection and applications, but also the media servers and signaling platforms on which the WebRTC application will reside.
Another growth opportunity is in conferencing applications, an area in which Empirix built a niche this summer. The company's conference bridge monitoring application aims to ensure top voice performance and bridge reliability by duplicating customers' experiences during conference calls and then using them as the key measurement of quality.
Where other tools monitor network data feeds for packet loss and other anomalies, the Empirix solution tests exactly what the user is hearing during conference calls by evaluating voice clips as they play through the conference bridges. It also looks at whether the access numbers work, conferences are bleeding together, or callers are dropping off.
And because it's one thing to monitor applications for voice quality and something else entirely to do something about it, Empirix also this year added IntelliSight, an analytics platform that delivers real-time intelligence needed to enhance user experiences, reduce churn, and streamline operations.
Empirix IntelliSight can help organizations unlock insights from the vast amount of data generated by their communications network feeds and enrich and correlate them with existing warehoused data to help them understand customer behavior and usage patterns. It looks at customer behaviors, network and app performance, roaming, bandwidth use, and more to ensure rapid diagnosis of issues anywhere in the network, and combines all that information in dashboards and drill-down menus with a large number of data visualization options. It can draw service correlations and workflows to maximize the productivity of every worker in the contact center. It also offers dynamic alarm thresholding and summaries to help businesses address the problems impacting the most customers and predictive analytics to help managers correct problems before they can affect customers.
"Having real-time insight into how customers experience and interact with network-based services will be crucial as executives look to align key business objectives with key performance indicators on the network, as well as services and applications. We believe a tool that can sift through the vast amounts of data generated by communications networks will be invaluable for these executives to better understand customer behavior and usage patterns" said John D'Anna, CEO of Empirix, in a statement.
Experts suggest, however, that before making a significant technology investment, companies should know what speech applications and services they have got in production and what's already live. "Customers need to know and document everything they have so that when they want to make a change, they can see all that could be affected," Cyara's Kulkarni explains. "That's the unique challenge for 2015."
In our first State of the Speech Technology Industry issue, we reveal the latest trends and developments in eight market categories.