Travis White, Vice President of Marketing & Product Management, Datria
Congratulations on joining Datria. Please tell us about your career. Has it all been with technology companies?
Travis White I started in academia, studying things like Latin American Politics and How to Start The Revolution. Then I figured out that computers were going to create the real revolution, so I started studying computer and information science, ultimately getting a Ph.D. I thought I would be a college professor but, a few weeks before our first child was born, I decided I should get a more lucrative job. I wound up with a small systems company in Boulder, Colo. Twenty years and three job changes later, I'm still at it.
Based upon your career at JD Edwards, do you see any correlation between the adoption rate of speech and enterprise application software?
TW When I joined J.D. Edwards in the early 90s, we were selling a lot of packaged enterprise software to replace custom-built financial and manufacturing systems. Customers found that packaged software was generally better built, more functional, and less costly to own than custom-built solutions. I see the same thing happening with voice-enabled applications today. There is a fundamental trend toward packaged voice applications. Our strategy at Datria is to position ourselves at the leading edge of that wave.
Based on your background why did you join Datria? What are your responsibilities at Datria?
TW I have a strong background working with packaged applications which is the core of the Datria strategy. I've also dabbled in market research, strategic planning, and product management. I've also been told that I'm pretty good at explaining things. At Datria, I'm responsible for all aspects of marketing and product management.
Why do you think packaged applications present an attractive alternative for enterprises wishing to deploy speech?
TW The secret to packaged applications is building a good architecture. You want something that's flexible yet bulletproof and that will last a long time. That means standards, flexible tools, and a very solid quality assurance process. At Datria, we've invested in all of that. The customer benefit is better quality, greater functionality, and lower cost of ownership. Yankee Group estimates that packaged voice applications have a Total Cost of Ownership that's 25 percent to 30 percent lower than custom applications.
Please discuss the Ticket Management 2.0 application that you announced yesterday.
TW The term "ticket management" refers to a field service process. Traditionally, field service technicians received "trouble tickets" that told them where to go and what to install or repair. The traditional way to manage the process was for the technicians to put handwritten notes on the tickets, indicating what they had done, what parts they had used and so on. They turned the tickets in at the end of the day. It was a slow and error-prone process. The more "modern" way to handle the process is to give everybody laptops. That gets real-time information flowing to and from the field but it's also very expensive. The Datria alternative is to create voice applications to manage the process. All you need is a phone and a voice. The technicians talk directly to their enterprise system - there's no need for an intermediary. It's much faster than paper and much less expensive than laptops. We introduced Ticket Management 2.0 earlier this year. Yesterday, we introduced the Broadband Edition, which adds specialized business processes that are useful to cable and satellite companies. These include a Service Activation component that streamlines the process of initializing a modem or set-top box. It also includes a Self-Dispatch function which allows technicians to request jobs by parameters such as location or type of install. There's also a Customer Acceptance function which allows the customer - in addition to the technician - to speak directly to the enterprise system.
What do you think can be done to help prospective customers move toward speech enablement?
TW Somehow, voice-enabled applications got a bad rap a few years ago. Too often, I hear things like, "Oh, we tried speech a while ago. It didn't work." There's not a strong desire to try it again. I think we need an industry-wide campaign to promote the idea that voice applications work quite nicely, thank you. In the same way the "Got Milk?" campaign promotes the benefits of drinking milk, we need a campaign to promote the benefits of voice applications.
Can speech-enablement be positioned as a productivity enhancement, rather than just a cost-savings measure?
TW Yes, I definitely think voice is a productivity enhancer. At Datria, our mission is to improve the productivity of field organizations while reducing the cost to support them. We use voice applications to make this promise real.
Do you have any statistics that support this position?
TW One Datria customer got an extra job-and-a-half per technician per day by implementing our voice solutions. Technicians for one of our wireless phone customers used to be responsible for 20 cell towers each. With Datria Ticket Management, they can now handle 23 towers - that's an increase of 15 percent. Supervisors for another customer used to manage eight technicians each. With Datria Ticket Management, they now manage 11 technicians each. That's an increase of 37 percent each. Believe me, we've got plenty of data to back up our position.