Laurent Philonenko, Chief Operating Officer, Genesys

Q When did you decide to acquire Telera and did you look at other speech providers?
A Alcatel first announced plans that it would acquire Telera in May 2002 following an extensive review of the voice self-service market. The company selected Telera for its patented Voice-Web software platform, which uses VoiceXML and other open standards. This approach enables service providers and enterprises to develop advanced voice applications that transform the telephone into a powerful tool to access Web-based information. Q What impact will this have on your product line?
A Telera adds a voice self-service platform to Genesys' contact center software product line. Now Genesys can offer a complete, integrated solution for both voice self-service and live agent assistance. Genesys is already leveraging the Voice-Web technology in its recently announced Genesys Voice Portal, an advanced voice self-service application for customer contact management. Moving forward, we'll continue to leverage the technology in new customer contact applications. Q What impact will the Telera acquisition have on your parent company, Alcatel?
A In the long term, the VoiceXML center of competency will strengthen Alcatel's strategy to deliver converged voice and data networks, and will be utilized by other Alcatel businesses to enhance product offerings. Q Compare speech technology to other forms of technology solutions such as CRM, workforce management, DTMF among others and the adoption rate those technologies achieved. What does this say about speech technology?
A Many enterprise applications, especially complex CRM solutions, require up to 2 years or more before delivering return on investment. Speech technology, particularly in the voice self-service arena, can deliver both improved customer satisfaction and lower contact center operational costs in a short, three to six month timeframe. Q What vertical markets are the strongest drivers/implementers of the services speech technology has to offer?
A Currently, banking, finance and insurance industries are the strongest drivers of speech technology services. This is largely because end-customers in these industries have demanded a high level of access to their personal financial and insurance data. Also, we're seeing significant adoption by airlines and retail companies. Q What do you hear from your customers concerning speech technology?
A Customers recognize that speech will play a major role in the future. And there is significant interest in technology that can leverage and integrate with existing applications. Customers see the value in extending their legacy investments as they add new functionality to their customer contact management systems. Q Where will this technology be in three to five years? What issues will it be helping customers solve?
A Voice access to the Internet will be the catalyst for a powerful transformation changing the way the Web is used, and in the consumer services that are made available by enterprises and service providers. Speech technology is ideal for self-service transactions where customers typically require a high level of availability to real-time information, such as obtaining account balances, transferring funds, requesting literature, checking flight status, ordering products and scheduling services. Q Please describe a successful deployment of speech technology with appropriate supporting statistics.
A California Casualty is a great example of speech technology in action. The company was searching for a way to more effectively utilize its staff across three regional contact centers. Using self-service technology combined with intelligent call routing, California Casualty built a virtual contact center, which has enabled the company to lower its abandoned call rate, improve customer service levels, and extend hours of operation without increasing staff. Q What can the technology developers like IBM, Nuance, Philips, Scansoft, SpeechWorks and Telisma, among others, do to increase adoption of speech technology?
A Signs of industry collaboration are prevalent as major players try to further their offerings by adding speech capabilities in new areas. For example, Honda is now featuring IBM's new voice recognition technology. Moving forward, these companies will need to work very closely and develop ever more intelligent speech engines to deliver these types of applications. Q What are your thoughts concerning standards and their impact on speech technology?
A VoiceXML and Web standards are the keys to building an open, standards-based infrastructure needed to help businesses extend their Web infrastructure investments and content to the voice channel. Today, customers demand 24x7 access to information and open standards are necessary to meet this demand.

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