Verizon Launches Hosted Speech Platform

Verizon Business today launched Open Hosted Speech Services (OHSS), a speech platform that allows customers to create and host their own speech applications while they continue to rely on Verizon Business’ broader speech platform.

OHSS includes Nuance Communications’ Open Speech Recognition (OSR) engine as part of the same shared network services that are used for Verizon’s interactive voice response (IVR) platform. Also included is a hosted IVR application, a VoiceXML interpreter, text-to-speech capabilities, and a speaker verification application.

Verizon Business’ professional services team can assist customers in developing and deploying applications that they can host themselves.  That team can also help customers integrate OHSS with Verizon Business’ other contact center solutions.

OHSS customers also have access to a full reporting suite that includes detailed billing backup and performance maintenance through the Verizon Enterprise Center. The reporting captures daily, weekly, and monthly speech application activity and allows users to access that information from any computer at any time.

OHSS gives users the flexibility and oversight typically associated with on-premises solutions without the large capital costs or burden of platform management. Applications typically reside on the customers’ servers but can be executed on Verizon Business’ Hosted IVR platform or another platform of their choice, explains Tom Smith, senior manager of IVR, speech, and IPCC product marketing.

"OHSS combines the benefits of hosted services, such as reliability, geographic redundancy, automatic technology upgrades and low total cost of ownership, with the security and control that were previously only available in a premises-based solution," Mike Marcellin, vice president of global product marketing at Verizon Business, said in a statement.

As for the applications themselves, "there really are no limits as to the functionality, just that they have to be based on VoiceXML 2.0," Smith says.

Though the speech applications currently included are from Nuance, "we could conceivably work with other vendors going forward," Smith says. "There is nothing to prevent us from adding others."

OHSS is expected to be an attractive option for companies in the financial services, healthcare, government, and retail sectors, companies that Smith identifies as "the typical adopters of speech technologies." He expects OHSS to appeal to both large enterprises with large and highly experienced IT organizations as well as smaller enterprises that do not want to create and manage their own applications, he says.

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