Michael Kuperstein, CEO, Metaphor Solutions

Metaphor Solutions, Inc. is a provider of speech IVR on-demand. Through its Plug & Play Web site, Metaphor offers a portfolio of packaged applications and configuration, integration and deployment of speech IVR applications. The applications are deployed on standards-based hosting infrastructure. Metaphor markets its applications both directly and through a network of partners and resellers.

Speech Technology Magazine sat down with Michael Kuperstein, CEO of Metaphor Solutions, to discuss the company's latest release.

Q. What's new at Metaphor?
A. Metaphor Solutions has recently launched Plug & Play Speech IVR, the first complete web-based solution for customers to easily customize and deploy packaged speech IVR applications on-demand.  Customers simply select a packaged solution, customize its prompts and business variables and then connect the solution to data at the customer's site through configured web services.  Metaphor's Plug & Play solution ends up being about 10 times less expensive to develop and 60 times faster to bring to market than the average speech IVR solution available today.

Q. Please tell us a little about your new Plug & Play Speech IVR. Why do you feel it is unique?
A. This is unique in three aspects:  first, it is a complete web-based solution for customizing packages speech application across three dimensions, prompts, business variables and data access transactions; secondly, the customization and testing of speech IVR applications is completely free and open; and thirdly, after production deployment, the customer can manage the solution, monitor it, and run management and technical reports, all through the web access.

Q. How will this solution impact an enterprise's ability to implement speech technologies?
A. Building, deploying and testing Speech IVR has always been too complex, lengthy and expensive for most customers.  Through the Plug & Play Speech IVR, Metaphor has been able to remove these barriers.  In addition, many customers new to speech or IVR like to run limited functionality tests or pilot projects to gauge interest from their internal and external constituents, which are also expensive and difficult to setup.  Plug & Play Speech IVR reduces the cost of testing a customized application down to "zero".  For our customers that want full control and access to the Speech IVR application, we provide our C# based development tool called Metaphor Conversation Manager

Q. Will this have any impact on your previous customer offerings?
A. No.  Our existing customers will now be able to take advantage of the Plug & Play Speech IVR to manage their applications directly.

Q. Where do you see the relationship between speech and Web going in the future?
A. The software industry is moving to a services based model, and web is playing a key role in offering easy to use services that can be customized to the needs of each individual customer.  Every aspect of speech applications and customer service solutions in particular will continue to move to web-based configurable services.

Q. Please tell us a little about one of your latest customer deployments.
A. Our latest customers using our Plug & Play website are what the market calls SMB (small to medium sized business) customers.  These are customers like Century Shower Door, a small manufacturer and installer of custom-built shower doors; and Medullan, a software consultancy, who have been wanting to deploy speech IVR but could not until now, due to high cost of entry.  Other Metaphor customers include an auto parts retailer, a leading provider of security software, and a European utility company.  These and other customers are listed on our website and announced through our press releases.

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?
A. We would encourage professionals from our industry and customers to create free accounts on our Plug & Play website at: http://www.metaphorivr.com to customize and test our 30+ packaged solutions.  Any and all feedback is welcome!

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