Jack Reilly, CEO, Parlance
Q Please tell us a little about Parlance.A Parlance was founded in 1996 by a group of scientists/programmers who were previously working on Speech Recognition at the BBN Corporation. Its mission was to develop a leading edge speech enabled application. Its vision is to establish a new interface for the telephone that enables users to speak the name of their destination. Parlance offices are at 200 Boston Avenue in Medford, Massachusetts and its Web site is http://www.nameconnector.com.
Q Can you explain the NameConnector service please?A NameConnector Service is a managed service that enables the telecommunications networks of an enterprise to be navigated by the caller speaking the name of their destination. NCS matches the caller request against on-line Registry, confirms the match to the caller and connects the call.
NameConnector Service includes a data management system which interfaces to the customer databases and also provides desktop administration capability for additional data entries for the Registry. NCS monitors itself 24/7 and is capable of changing dialogs and destinations based on time of day/day of week.
NCS provides a family of Operation Reports which enable Tele-Ops managers to assess the rate and success of caller connection and the activity by destination called.
Q What is the ROI for an enterprise to deploy Name Connector?A Operator off-load is the immediate benefit realized by NCS customers . Approximately 40% of operator assisted calls are originated in the Enterprise, 90% of them are off-loaded to NCS. Operation management expense is reduced by elimination of moves, adds and changes. Since the physical address is no longer necessary for the caller, NCS data management system loads these changes with next-day availability. This enables operations management to focus on new facilities and new components of the Telecommunications infrastructure. Additional savings are realized by: answering the caller in less than 2 rings, reducing/eliminating directory publishing, accommodating pagers and cell phones, and providing a connected service 7/24.
Q Can you explain the phases of your managed services offering?A Phase I: Preparation of the Registry. The customer determines the destinations and applications to be installed. NCS and customer identify the data source and define the dialogs that will be used in the application. NCS then interfaces to the customer databases, automatically accepts feeds and processes the input to form the Registry. NCS puts the data through several filters to determine completeness, acceptability and ensure the names include the alternatives . It also checks for ambiguous names and ensures that there is a tiebreaker strategy. NCS then checks pronunciations and when there are multiple possibilities, goes to the source to determine the desired pronunciation.
Phase II: NCS builds the Registry and then installs the NCS platform on the customer site. Installation takes approximately 2-4 hours. NCS trains the administrator and establishes Security protocols for on-going data management services.
Phase III: NCS reviews the operation reports with Tele-Ops. Reports are available from the Web site with proper security clearance.
Phase IV: Ongoing operations. NCS monitors the Service 24/7, takes daily feeds of the customer's data for the Registry management process, processes changes and updates the customer Registry for the next day's operation .
Phase V: Back up. NCS collects all transactions on a weekly basis. This is an input for operations reports. NCS maintains a backup of the latest Registry at Parlance.
Q What is the average deployment time for NameConnector in a medium-size business?A 15 to 30 days after the decision has been made to install NameConnector Service. Time is dependent on the availability of the data sources/feeds for the Registry.
Q Can you discuss a recent deployment that you consider successful and provide supporting statistics?A Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center is a recent successful deployment. Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center is part of the Caritas Christi Health System, a network of health services including six hospitals, home and hospice care, elder care, mission outreach and education services.
Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center developed a "Service Excellence Plan" to enhance the level of service provided by the Medical Center. One way to improve service to the Medical Center's patients, medical staff and the general public was to streamline internal communications (voice and pocket paging). The NameConnector is used by internal employees and has extended the reach of St. Elizabeth's voice network. Employees have access to over 4,000 destinations simply by saying the name. The destinations available include employee office phones and pagers, departments and employees located at the Caritas Christi corporate offices.
"Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center has had Parlance's Service installed for less than one month and already the acceptance of the Service has been extremely positive. Our Medical Director says, he 'loves the system,' and staff development managers have estimated that the system saves them at least one hour per week in productivity, now that they do not have to look up telephone numbers," said Nancy Aldrich, former HIMSS President and Telecommunications Manager at Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. "Additionally, routine internal transfer requests to telephone attendants has decreased by 35%."
The NameConnector Service offloads hundreds of calls from telephone attendants each day and the numbers continue to increase markedly as more people are exposed to the simplicity of the system. The elimination of routine internal transfers and access to pocket paging has resulted in an improved level of service to all St. Elizabeth's callers and has provided employees with an easy, direct way to connect. Today, all calls are answered on the first ring and are connected within two seconds with an accuracy rate of 96%.
Also, with the success of the initial rollout of the NameConnector services, the corporate offices of Caritas decided to add another application to the NameConnector. The corporate offices did not have their own operator and knew that most of their callers know the name of the person they are trying to call. Parlance implemented a public connector for this application and now all calls to the corporate offices go through the NameConnector. This application takes about 50 calls per day.
Q How do you feel about emerging standards and their role in speech deployments?A Standards will play an essential role in shortening the development cycle for new applications and enabling greater interoperability between speech offerings. We continue to monitor the progress of emerging standards, weighing the benefits against potential product and service delivery changes associated with their adoption.
Q Where do you see speech technology in five years?A Instead of significant gains in recognizer accuracy, over the next five years efforts will focus on enabling more turnkey speech application deployment. Such deployments will be characterized by well-defined, packaged applications complete with the management tools necessary to maintain quality operation as judged by the caller.