Larry Lisser, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, LocusDialog
Q What is the status of your organization since the InfoSpace transaction in 2000 (the acquisition of LocusDialog by InfoSpace was in late 2000. The enterprise group was re-acquired from InfoSpace in 2001.)
A Since the enterprise group was re-acquired from InfoSpace in 2001, LocusDialog has focused and expanded upon its core strengths of developing and deploying packaged speech-enabled call routing applications:
Q Describe a successful speech technology implementation and why you thought it was successful. Please include any benchmark statistics that support your thoughts. A
- A partnership with SpeechWorks has produced a 'best of breed' product strategy. This delivers the end user with experienced development and turnkey application support from LocusDialog, combined with the benefits of SpeechWorks' development investment and expertise in its ASR technology. This relationship has also produced international market penetration opportunities for LocusDialog because of SpeechWorks well recognized language pack strengths.
- A re-branded suite of products - LocusDialogSTS(TM), LocusDialogSTS(TM) XL & LocusDialogSTS(TM) Lite has evolved from the flagship product, Liaison(TM). The LocusDialogSTS(TM) (Speech Telephony Solution) suite improves upon and leverages our key market differentiators - advanced telephony integrations, scalability and stable, highly useful speech enabled call routing applications.
- Expansion of LocusDialog's already well-developed distribution network, accelerating our access to the installed base of Nortel, AVAYA, NEC and Alcatel PBX users. Additionally, a separate distribution channel has been established to increase the penetration of our small business speech solution (LocusDialogSTS(TM) Lite).
Along with NextiraOne, one of our national distribution partners, LocusDialog recently deployed a high volume call routing application in a large contact center. Our telephony expertise, product scalability and support teams made this implementation a success. This 80-port LocusDialogSTS(TM) XL system successfully triages between 10,000 and 15,000 calls a day into an appropriate skills-based queue or the existing IVR applications.
A thoroughly designed and tested voice user interface has resulted in a user interaction (defined as a question asked and answered) average of marginally over 1, a statistic that supports the very positive customer service response this customer has received from its callers. Q What issue(s) do your prospective customers cite as the reason they are not deploying speech?
A One answer is all too familiar - frozen or lack of capital expenditure funds. While some remain suspect of the technology itself, prospects today perceive and understand the value proposition (i.e. measured in ROI) the application provides far more than they did a year ago. However, with so many technology solutions to look at, fewer buyer resources to research them and an economy that refuses to truly reveal its future, the reasons for not buying speech often have little to do with speech itself. Q What vertical market segments do you see supplying the most growth for speech technology developers and why?
A Although the education sector has been an early adopter and promoter of the technology and will continue to be a major contributor to speech's growth, we have seen important movement toward speech in healthcare and finance this year. The health sector, for which the telephony infrastructure has always been mission critical, continues to generate solid ROI models because of its large operator pools that, 'pre-speech,' handled far too many internal calls.
The finance sector strives to use technology that yields competitive edge. Deployments of packaged speech solutions of all sizes (including smaller banking branches, for example) are generating enhanced customer satisfaction by delivering more friendly and productive phone call experiences to existing and prospective customers. Q What geographical markets do you expect to see the most growth over the next three to five years and why are these markets the most promising?
A Outside of our domestic markets, Western Europe, Australia and certain Asian countries offer great potential for growth for this time frame. These markets either have high telephony labor costs and/or have proven to be open to new technologies in the past. Language availability and existing and new distribution partners in these regions will further facilitate this growth. Q What do you believe will be the key market drivers for speech technology in the short term? Long term?
A Mass acceptance of the interface is the ultimate driver of exponential growth. This will be accomplished through higher user awareness and penetration rates which, in turn, will be accomplished through mass deployment. Mass deployment requires products and applications that
- Validate re-usable ROI models
- Respond to mission critical communication problems
- Are friendly and welcoming, especially to new users
- Are not intimidating to deploy and support
Additionally, a parallel can be drawn with the reasons behind the market growth voice mail experienced. The more people interact with properly deployed speech applications, the more users will expect this interface - speech then becomes a "must have" instead of a "nice to have." Q Who are your partners and why did you choose this group? Why did you only align yourself with one ASR vendor? A
A solid and diverse group of telephony distribution partners allows LocusDialog accelerated access to the mass markets, providing reach to a wide variety of PBX installed-base users. In North America, our distribution network includes NextiraOne, SBC, NEC, NACR, Bell, Telus, MacroVoice and a range of regional telecom resellers. Overseas, we have several partners in Western Europe, including a recent addition - SPIE, France's leading integrator of telecommunications solutions.
Technology partners form a second category of partners and provide us with the complementary technology or access to knowledge required to deliver evolving, best of breed products. Partnerships with manufacturers such as Nortel Networks (Developer Partner Program), and NEC (Fusion Program) and CISCO (AVVID Partner Program) are among this group of partners.
Our partnership with SpeechWorks aligns LocusDialog with one of the best ASR providers in the industry and offers access to the languages required to support our ongoing international expansion. SpeechWorks has proven to be highly supportive of their partners, something we relate to very well. Q Provide your thoughts on speaker verification and how it is impacting your customers.
A The 'cool' factor of speaker verification certainly draws attention in the market. In our world of packaged applications, it provides a secure means of access to information and telephony infrastructure (i.e. off-site access to the PBX). Our customers primarily deploy SV to protect access to personal directories (remote speech-enabled access to Outlook databases). Q What makes LocusDialog unique to your competition and who would you list as competitors?
A LocusDialog's competitive edge is best summarized as follows:
- Access to market: An unparalleled distribution network.
- Scalability: Packaged products that respond to the demands of multiple segments of the market, be it in terms of size (ports/users) or applications (speech-dialed directories, contact center call routing)
- Telephony Expertise: Advanced integrations with PBX, PCX and KSU brands that represent over 90% of the Domestic and Western European market
- Experience: Deploying and supporting hundreds of systems has built a bank of expertise that stands above the rest.
Our competitors include Phonetic Systems, Philips and Parlance. Q Provide us with your thoughts on the various standards that are being implemented and discussed. A
LocusDialog supports open protocols and believes in a more standards-based future for the industry. A VXML platform for enterprise application deployment is under development and our product roadmap confirms that we will be SALT-compliant, as well.
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