SAP to Partner with VoiceObjects

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The phone application server links third-party interactive voice response (IVR) systems, such as those from Avaya, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, and Nortel Networks, to the SAP applications via a media platform driver. This allows end users to receive data via text-to-speech or audio recording and to interact with the system using speech recognition or other IVR systems.
The phone application server features the following:
• VOICEXML—enables user to generate VoiceXML applications to create personalized dialogues at each call with each individual caller;
• APPLICATION EXECUTION ENVIRONMENT—supports remote management and monitoring of multimodal applications, as well as online application maintenance for changes or rollbacks;
• WEB SERVICES SUPPORT—supports integration of a company’s phone-based self-service solutions with its customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and other applications in a service-oriented architecture; and
• MULTIMODAL PHONE APPLICATION SUPPORT—supports media such as voice, video, graphics, and text interfaces for mobile phones, PDAs, etc. SAP NetWeaver is provided as a general-purpose platform. The components that deliver these capabilities are:
• SAP ENTERPRISE PORTAL—provides a portal infrastructure along with knowledge management and collaboration software;
• SAP BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE—enables companies to identify, integrate, and analyze business data;
• SAP MASTER DATA MANAGEMENT— provides information to different applications across the enterprise;
• SAP EXCHANGE INFRASTRUCTURE— provides open integration technologies that support collaboration among SAP and non-SAP components;
• SAP MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE— supports multichannel access through voice and mobile technology;
• SAP AUTO-ID INFRASTRUCTURE—provides an auto-ID middleware solution; and
• SAP WEB APPLICATION SERVER—a development and deployment platform that supports Web services, business applications, the J2EE platform, and SAP’s ABAP programming language.
This partnership opens up opportunities from both industries’ perspectives. “A stronger go-to-market strategy between SAP and VoiceObjects is an excellent development as speech-enabled applications get woven into enterprise business processes that transcend the contact center. That’s where the growth is,” says Dan Miller, founder and senior analyst of Opus Research.
“I have been in the software business for 25 years and this is the first time that I have seen an enterprise software company focus on a middleware architecture to extend their applications to the phone,” says Bonnie Crater, senior vice president of marketing at VoiceObjects. “This is a major shift. If you look at all the business application vendors out there and what they are doing, this is the first time that a really robust approach is being used to deliver these applications. It will make these applications much easier to develop, to maintain, and will lower cost overall.”
“SAP NetWeaver will help bring VoiceObjects technology to broader markets and open up doors for personalized DTMF and speech applications. The integration gives greater credibility to VoiceObjects and demonstrates the commitment SAP, one of the largest global enterprise software players, has placed in improving its tooling assets,” states Daniel Hong, lead analyst at Datamonitor. “Datamonitor is optimistic that this will improve the value of NetWeaver at the same time we will be tracking SAP’s activity and execution in this space closely because messaging can easily be misconstrued in this emerging area. Companies focusing on improving the phone channel can look to a more complete development and management environment through NetWeaver.”
Opportunities are not limited to the industry. End users also have much to gain from this intersection of technologies. “SAP has over 80,000 customers today and all of those customers will be able to extend their NetWeaver implementations to the phone. With the combination of the VoiceObjects phone application server embedded into NetWeaver, [end users] will be able to access those applications by the phone,” Crater explains. — Stephanie Staton

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