Avaya Teams With Sun Microsystems to Provide New Platform

LAS VEGAS, NV - Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV), a provider of communications networks and services for businesses, introduced Avaya Interactive Response, a configurable multi-media voice response system that enables companies to automate service functions. Supporting touchtone and speech-enabled access to information in company databases and business applications, the system can be adapted to accommodate almost any interaction a human service representative could perform by telephone. Avaya Interactive Response software ships pre-configured on a standard Sun Microsystems Inc. Sun BLADE 150 workstation that integrates into Internet Protocol (IP) networks. The system comes equipped with the widely used Solaris™ 8 Operating System and 10/100 Ethernet connectivity, enabling streamlined and cost-effective deployment in converged voice and data networks. The open standards-based system supports end-to-end IP telephony through connection to award-winning Avaya MultiVantage™ software and communications servers. IP networking enables companies to implement applications more flexibly and cost-effectively across multiple sites and multiple communications channels, such as voice, email and web. "The trend is clear - customers want to communicate with contact centers via the media of their choice," said Dick Bucci, senior research analyst, Frost & Sullivan. "Contact center managers want software-centric solutions like Avaya Interactive Response that accommodate not just today's needs but the rapidly evolving world of communications built around IP. By 2007, we expect that 35-40 percent of global communications traffic will be routed over the Internet with contact centers accounting for a large portion of that growth." Companies often use self-service systems to handle repetitive calls, such as requests for directions, hours of operation and order confirmation. Implementing self-service can cut service costs to pennies per transaction while raising employee job satisfaction because less time is spent responding to routine questions. With advanced integration to a variety of database information sources, Avaya Interactive Response provides a way for businesses of all sizes to offer 24-hour automated assistance for everyday requests and more complex inquiries. "Customer relationship management initiatives demand that core systems be customized and integrated with business processes in order to deliver a competitive advantage - or customers can be lost forever," said Don Deason, Western Communications regional director, Sun Microsystems, Inc. "Sun has been working with the Avaya to develop rock-solid CRM offerings for the Solaris platform. We are delighted that our alliance can deliver solutions that can lower costs and speed customer service requirements to customers such as Keystone Mercy Health Plan." Keystone Mercy Health Plan, the nation's largest managed care organization for Medicaid patients, provides around-the-clock information to its 800,000 subscribers using an integrated self-service system. Handling 80,000 to 100,000 calls per month from patients and healthcare providers, Keystone chose Avaya to expand its system and take advantage of the advanced functionality of Avaya Interactive Response software and the networking benefits of the Solaris and Java™ platforms. "The new system has performed extremely well over the past six months," said Jim Turley, telecommunications systems analyst for Keystone. "Our programmers used the system's Java-based programming tools to reduce development time by up to 20 hours per interface while simplifying the query process between our self-service applications and our online databases. The new platform can query our databases faster than our other systems, reducing wait times for our customers and lowering our cost of providing information." Web-based administration tools enable Keystone managers to easily schedule system backups, check interfaces and run reports from an office desktop or remotely through the company's VPN. "The ability to easily move to IP communications and natural language speech recognition played a key role in our decision to choose Avaya Interactive Response," said Turley. "The system delivers efficiencies we can benefit from today with flexibility for future integration plans." Avaya Interactive Response allows simpler speech-enabled self-service using VoiceXML, a standard protocol that enables companies to implement speech-enabled applications for both web and telephony interfaces. This can make building a speech application as easy as building a Web page, with the same programming staff able to develop both applications. In addition, the platform includes proxy software for either Text to Speech (TTS) or Natural Language Speech Recognition (NLSR), making the configuration for speech solutions potentially easier and less expensive. Like previous Avaya self-service systems, Avaya Interactive Response supports a full portfolio of speech solutions offered by Avaya DeveloperConnection alliance members Nuance and SpeechWorks, providing a complete range of options for customized speech capabilities. For project management and implementation of the new system, Keystone contracted with Avaya's largest U.S. BusinessPartner, Expanets. "The implementation for Keystone went extremely well. We expect that businesses will find it simple to use the system's VoiceXML capabilities to voice-enable their existing web applications. This solution provides companies yet another option to improve their customer service," said Jon Wiese, senior vice president of Product Management and Marketing, Expanets. As part of a multi-media contact center strategy, Avaya Interactive Response can deliver computer telephony integration (CTI) with business applications such as Siebel eBusiness to provide service agents with instant onscreen access to pertinent information when calls move from self service to assisted service handling. The system also supports integration with Avaya Proactive Contact solutions, giving companies an easy way to contact customers then offer an avenue for self-service response to offers or requests. "Self service is not a separate island within a company's multi-media customer care strategy," said Keith Larson, Avaya vice president, Contact Center Solutions. "For a long time now, businesses have seen the need to integrate service processes across functions, systems and information sources. Avaya Interactive Response on the Solaris platform is designed to provide advantages to companies that are currently implementing or planning to add converged IP applications in multi-protocol voice and data networks." Scalable to 96 ports, Avaya Interactive Response eases administration for managers by providing a simple web browser-based interface. Pricing ranges from $50,000 - $150,000 depending on the size of the system and configuration requirements.
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