Frank Tersigni, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, VoiceGenie
VoiceGenie Technologies Inc. is a provider of VoiceXML platforms and open communications solutions for next-generation customer care. VoiceGenie 7, the flagship product, was recently selected for the "Best Speech Application Delivery Platform" award at the AVIOS Speech Technology Symposium at SpeechTEK West Conference. And the firm was named as the top vendor in North American voice portal shipments for 2004 in the recently released Gartner Dataquest 'Market Share: Voice Response Systems, Worldwide 2004.
Speech Technology Magazine sat down with Frank Tersigni, VP of marketing and business development at VoiceGenie Technologies Inc., to learn more about the latest developments at VoiceGenie.
Q. VoiceGenie had a banner year in 2005; to what do you attribute this success?
A. A number of factors contributed to our 2005 successes. Prior to 2005 we were mainly known for our technical leadership among a technical audience. But customers now realize that technical factors - like latency, reliability and performance - have a huge influence on how their own customers' experiences with their critical applications turn out. So as the importance of the underlying VoiceXML platform as a key contributor to the success of the overall software 'stack' becomes apparent at all levels of an organization, we're no longer just the darlings of the technical staff - the business unit managers are also jumping on the VoiceGenie bandwagon.
Secondly, we've grown revenue through our indirect channels and this has occurred across industry boundaries, with organizations building applications based on VoiceGenie 7 for re-sale to their own target markets, confident that the underlying platform performs so well. Thirdly, we're profiting from firms swapping out legacy platforms, as well as competitor's next-generation platforms, which is again attributable to the failure of other platforms to meet strenuous demands for performance and reliability.
Finally, we're seeing growth from our professional service's organization, which is now focused on services that assist in the deployment and optimization of VoiceGenie's platform, as opposed to application development.
Q. That's a tough act to follow. How will you keep it going in 2006?
A. In 2006, we see similar growth for similar reasons, on a percentage basis, based on increasing demand outside of North America, although that geography - where we're ranked number one in sales by Gartner - will continue to be our major market. So we're seeing increased demand in Europe and the rest of the world. Another trend that will continue is the swapping out of legacy platforms. That will be a catalyst to our 2006 revenue projections.
A number of new partners have expressed interest in allying with us and we anticipate closing several of those deals in the first half of the year. As well, we see accelerating growth in the numbers of Application Service Providers (ASPs) licensing VoiceGenie, as more of them realize what several innovators discovered in 2005 - which is that the combination of our technical prowess and their need for a reliable, scalable platform on which to host their customer applications is a perfect fit. So we're very bullish on that part of the market.
Technology wise, we'll build on our 2005 announcement of the VoiceGenie Media Controller/IMS product and although it's still early on in the worldwide IMS rollout, we have a number of key partnerships with firms like Convedia and Brooktrout that will drive some revenue for us.
Q. That whole area of convergence, IMS solutions and the triple play (Internet, television and telephone) holds a lot of promise, don't you think?
A. Yes, and what's important there is our ongoing position in that arena, which is that the development of - and speech-enabling of - complex telephony applications in the network is best supported by VoiceXML offerings and the open standards associated with VoiceXML. Standards like MRCP, CCXML and SIP. As a result of our work in the standards arena, VoiceGenie is in an extremely good position to drive the standards' bodies towards VoiceXML as the best 'ways and means' to deploy multimodal applications.
It reminds me of the missionary work that VoiceGenie did in 2000 - 2001 in the call center world where we drove the adoption of VoiceXML as an open standard into the contact center; that's very analogous to what we're seeing now in the network space where firms are looking for new ways of introducing innovative services, precluding the proprietary, single-silo approach that they've been using. History is repeating itself.
Q. Where are standards taking us in speech-self service solutions and how is VoiceGenie supporting these standards?
A. Well, I'd begin from the fact that we've always been a leader in the development and evolution of the key standards; witness our work on the VoiceXML Forum, the W3C and other bodies, which is indicative of our input and design into evolving standards. We fully expect to continue our support of and influence on standards such as MRCP V. 2, the final CCXML standard and VoiceXML V.3, all of which are at various evolutionary stages as we speak.
Q. What are some trends that customers should keep an eye on and why?
A. The need for a very strong SIP capability in platform products will become more important in 2006, and that will allow VoiceGenie to play a role in the overarching trend among contact centers to move to Voice over IP (VOIP) - based infrastructures. We've built our platform to allow for easy migration from TDM to VOIP and in fact for the two to co-exist on the same platform, which is fairly unique in the market.
Another trend among customers is to concentrate more on the quality of the customer experience overall. Return on investment (ROI) remains a key factor - but it shouldn't be to the exclusion of all other inputs, especially the caller experience. Recently some writers have highlighted deficiencies in IVR systems and from a caller's perspective, these deficiencies need to be addressed in the design of an application, and VoiceGenie can certainly assist with helping our partners to do the best design job possible.
Q. GenieSummit is on for Montreal, May 17 - 19, so what can we expect from this conference?
A. We've endeavored and been successful at building a reputation for GenieSummit as a conference that is content rich, and hype poor. It's emerged as a coming together of key providers and users in our industry, those that have something important to say and as an unmatched learning experience for peer education on how to deploy speech and next generation systems properly, in both telco and enterprise IVR settings.
We have a great set of speakers lined up and will be adding more, so just surf up to www.geniesummit.com to see what's on. It's held in North America, which again, is the area that Gartner sees the greatest market growth in, so it's very convenient to attend. And for those wanting to feel the wind in their hair, there'll be the opportunity to win a Harley-Davidson 'fat boy' motorcycle as well.