Opus Revisits Voice ASP Best Practices

In response to the growing popularity of the ASP model, Opus Research recently released its report, "Voice ASP Best Practices, Edition 2.0." The report aims to help companies improve their hosted/managed automated speech processing initiatives by offering voice ASP best practices.

The tips, based on a series of executive interviews as well as reviews of company literature, provide best practices across the "Five P's" of business analysis: pricing, promotion, product, partnerships (and channel descriptions), and personnel.

For example, pricing best practices in the report cover business model, pricing basis, and bundling. The report details a shift in business models among voice ASPs. "As high fixed-cost businesses selling to a broad spectrum of prospects--whose core competencies can be customer care, outbound alerts, and block-and-tackle order capture--service providers have found it important to observe market trends closely in order to exploit new niche opportunities where they can compete successfully." (Other best practices tips in the report focus on channel mix, organization structure, recruiting and training, and licensing options.)

Edition 2.0 comes two years after the release of Edition 1.0. "When [the report] first came out two years ago, the hosted model was still new. [Now] the pricing models for ASPs are more legitimate and the market is growing," explains Derek Top, research director at Opus Research. "From a customer perspective, there are more options for hosted speech. It is not just the long-standing, on-premises companies such as West or Convergys. There are more [pure play] options that fit into the hosted offerings than before."

"What has become evident this time around is that the voice stakes of conforming to VoiceXML, of having the best tools to bring applications up quickly, and of providing controls to help custom monitor and control what they are doing are making the applications--hosted and on-premise--more transparent," says Dan Miller, senior analyst at Opus Research.

Purchasers have displayed high levels of interest in "system integration and the understanding of underlying business objectives tied to customer satisfaction and retention," according to the report. The report also shows increased interest in new tools for monitoring performance, enhanced security features that conform to regulatory restrictions, and blended product offerings with voice self-service, call routing, and live agent services. "It gives vendors a way to look at what others are doing in an aggregate way. It also gives customers a chance to look what they need as far as personnel strategies, pricing models, and so on," Top adds.

As for what to expect from this market in the future, "the number of tools and features that are becoming a larger part of ASPs' offerings will continue to increase," Top says.

"With the growth of IP services, mixing and matching hosted and on-premise services is going to become more commonplace. The next time around I think we will be paying more attention to the mix of skills that vendors bring to cross the same boundaries that customers have to cross," Miller concludes.

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