Beatriz Infante, CEO, VoiceObjects
VoiceObjects is a provider of voice-driven automation, offering a unique phone application server product. VoiceObjects was founded in 2001 in Germany and relocated its headquarters to Silicon Valley last year.
VoiceObjects recently appointed a new CEO. Speech Technology Magazine sat down with CEO Beatriz Infante to discuss her new role and new initiatives for the company.
Q. Congratulations on your appointment as CEO of VoiceObjects. What will your new role entail, and what changes, if any, do you have planned for VoiceObjects?
A. I'll be growing the company to focus on the North American market, and continue our focus on the European market, where we have had numerous success with both enterprises and carriers. In North America, we plan to grow our sales and marketing organizations to support the aggressive initiatives we have planned.
Fundamentally, however, our mission - to enable companies to reduce the workload in their contact centers while simultaneously increasing the quality and consistency of the customer service they deliver - will remain unchanged. As before, we will seek to do that by providing software that enables carrier-grade deployment and management of over-the-phone self-service applications. The four major announcements we made on July 18th evidence a re-focusing of our sales, marketing and engineering efforts to apply VoiceObjects' unique technology to the achievement of those goals.
First, we announced the general availability of VoiceObjects Server, the world's first phone application server. A phone application server is software that enables enterprises and service providers to deliver personalized over-the-phone self-service applications via a software execution environment similar to a Web application server.
Second, we announced that we had raised an additional $10.8 million to fund our activities and that we had restructured our board of directors to include me, Arjun Gupta of Telesoft Partners, and Jorg Uberla of Wellington Partners. At the same time, we announced that industry veterans Bonnie Crater and Kendra Borrego had joined the company as our senior vice president of marketing and chief financial officer, respectively.
In addition, we announced that Deutsche Telekom's broadband and fixed network business unit, T-Com, had deployed an 800-port voice portal using VoiceObjects Server. VoiceObjects Server and its drill-down analytics capabilities enabled Deutsche Telekom to reduce mis-routed calls by 70 percent and to increase customer satisfaction by 50 percent.
Finally, VoiceObjects announced a new partnership with Unisys to deliver next-generation messaging systems that may include projects such as visual voicemail.
Q. What do you see as the promise of speech technologies for organizations?
A. The twin promises of speech technologies - reduced contact center costs and increased customer satisfaction - are the same today as they were in the early days of speech technologies. With our newly released phone application server, however, VoiceObjects is in a unique position to deliver on those promises. Our VoiceObjects Server does that by combining four key capabilities.
To reduce costs, VoiceObjects Server provides Web services support for easy integration between an organization's phone-based self-service assets and its CRM, ERP, or other back end systems, leveraging the organization's service-oriented architecture (SOA) to drastically reduce development time. System and application management costs are also reduced by VoiceObject's server-based execution environment, which supports online application maintenance for instant changes or rollbacks, remote management and monitoring of applications, and guaranteed high availability.
To increase customer satisfaction, VoiceObjects Server provides a service abstraction layer with the ability to dynamically generate personalized dialogs with each caller at call-time, leveraging in real-time customer information that is stored in an organization's CRM or other databases. In addition, there is support for multimodal phone applications that may include voice, video, graphics, and text interfaces, allowing user-friendly interactive applications that are unmatched in the phone-based self-service industry.
These four capabilities, in fact, define a phone application server. Soon, all sophisticated phone applications will be deployed on a phone application server.
Q. How will your new initiatives impact your enterprise customers and partner channel?
A. As I mentioned before, enterprise customers deploying our phone application server will finally benefit from the reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction that drove their interest in telephone-based self-service technology in the first place.
I should also point out that VoiceObjects Server is designed to support not only enterprise customers but also carriers and service providers. In fact, VoiceObjects Server is available in both an Enterprise Edition and a Network Edition. The Enterprise Edition is targeted toward enterprises that want to deliver personalized applications that leverage the business rules and logic that have been used within their Web infrastructure, their Web application server, for example, and enterprise applications. The Network Edition is primarily meant for managed service providers that want to deploy a network-hosted, multi-tenanted solution for delivering new revenue-generating voice services.
Selling alongside and through partners is a key component of our go-to-market strategy. One key to our partnering success has been our comprehensive catalog of IVR and media drivers. The VoiceObjects Server is compatible with virtually every IVR, every ASR, and every TTS offering, making it easy for us to work with a huge array of systems integrators, hosted solution providers, and applications vendors. The addition of Web services support to our latest offering makes integration between VoiceObjects and other IT infrastructure even easier, opening up still more opportunities for partnering.
Q. VoiceObjects recently announced $10.8 million venture financing. How will this new financing impact your plans and goals for the company?
A. The new funds will be used to expand the company's sales and marketing functions in North America and to continue development of the company's VoiceObjects Server and other products. The funds were provided by existing investors Telesoft Partners, Wellington Partners, SAP Ventures, Deutsche Telekom's T-Venture and Enjoyventure.
Q. Please tell us a little bit about your latest release, the VoiceObjects Server, and what makes it unique.
A. VoiceObjects Server is the world's first phone application server. Phone application servers have four key capabilities. Without any one of these capabilities, you don't really have a self-service solution that provides organizations with the costs savings and customer service enhancement that they're seeking.
First, phone applications servers have the ability to dynamically generate VoiceXML to create personalized dialogs with each caller at call-time, using information in an organization's CRM or other databases. This further creates opportunities to up-sell and to cross-sell. As we learned from the Web, which evolved into an environment in which Web application servers deliver dynamically generate HTML, hard-coding these kinds of applications to create compiled runtimes is practically impossible.
Second, phone applications servers have an application execution environment that supports online application maintenance for instant changes or rollbacks, remote management and monitoring of multimodal applications, and guaranteed high availability.
Phone application servers also feature Web services support for easy integration between an organization's phone-based self-service assets and its CRM, ERP, and other back-end systems, drastically reducing development time and cost.
Finally, phone application servers have support for multimodal phone applications that may include voice, video, graphics and text interfaces, allowing user-friendly interactive applications that are unmatched in the phone-based self-service industry.
Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?
A. This is an exciting time for VoiceObjects, as our flurry of recent announcements indicates. It's important to remember, however, that VoiceObjects is not a new company. We've already had great success, particularly in Europe. At more than fifty leading companies around the world, including Adobe, T-Mobile, and Volkswagen Financial Services, VoiceObjects Server supports phone applications that deliver a personalized customer service experience to more than 500 million callers each year.
Thanks for speaking with me today.