Diamonds in the Rough Economy

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In a challenging economy, cash-strapped companies are forced to be extremely selective with their technology investments. Fortunately, there exist some very valuable and affordable speech technology options—namely, outbound interactive voice response (IVR) systems and hosted speech solutions.

The benefits of outbound IVR solutions are hard to ignore: Organizations can quickly and easily reach a large number of people with targeted messages about critical issues, such as prescription refills, flight delays, public safety alerts, collections, and more. Daniel Hong, a Datamonitor analyst, agrees. In the article “Is the Promise of Outbound IVR All Talk?” (page 13), he states that outbound IVR is one technology “that provides significant cost advantages for enterprises and is a key piece of a long-term multichannel customer service strategy.” 

Already companies are showing interest in outbound IVR solutions. Recently I moderated a couple of well-attended Webinars on the topic: “How Proactive Notifications Will Redefine Your Customer Care” (April 29, 2009) and “The One Investment Enterprises Are Making—Outbound IVR” (May 7, 2009). The former had one of the largest live turnouts for a Speech Technology Webinar and the latter had one of the longest question-and-answer sessions—about 20 minutes—that I’ve ever moderated. (Visit www.speechtechmag.com/webinars to view them.)

Outbound IVR solutions have garnered so much interest that we are featuring the topic in this month’s cover story, “We Want You to Get This Call” (page 16), by Managing Editor Leonard Klie. While the benefits of outbound IVR solutions are clear, there are, however, some issues to consider before releasing your cash (i.e., security, cost, and multichannel integration), that are addressed in the cover story.   

The next promising development is the coming wave of hosted speech solutions. The hosted delivery model, which helped rejuvenate the CRM industry, provides enterprise-class solutions for a fixed, low monthly cost. Organizations don’t have to worry about the large capital investment required to build and update various speech solutions. Instead, these systems are developed and maintained off-site, enabling organizations to focus on their core competencies. 

A handful of speech technology vendors already offer hosted speech solutions. In the fall, we conducted three consecutive Webinars on the topic—visit our Webinars archive page (shown above) to see which vendors offer hosted solutions. Also, because of the potential that hosted solutions have for the speech industry, we are making them the focus of the third keynote presentation at SpeechTEK (August 24–26). Feel free to register early for this event to receive a discounted rate. Visit www.SpeechTEK.com for more information. 


We are gearing up for our third annual Speech Industry Awards issue, which will highlight some of the industry’s leading vendors, most impressive case studies, and influential people. To nominate a person or company for an award, please visit www.speechtechmag.com/awards. The results will be published in the September 2009 issue of Speech Technology magazine. 

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