VoiceXML, the newly adopted open standard that makes voice-activated retrieval of information possible, is gaining popularity as a way for corporations to offer voice services because it is less complex to manage from an IT perspective, says Mark Plakias, an analyst with The Kelsey Group. "It's been hard to get qualified IT workers to update automated call center applications on a traditional interactive voice response system," Plakias says, because few technicians are familiar with the system. A company then has to hire a consultant to update the application. But voiceXML eliminates that problem, he adds, because an internal employee with good XML skills can work on the call center applications.
The adoption and use of the voiceXML standard by PeopleSoft Inc. and Siebel Systems Inc. in their sales force automation products, "is a big wake-up call to the industry that speech technology is starting to happen," says Plakias.
The most popular use of voiceXML by businesses today is in call centers. "Enterprises want to automate the customer care process so you never have to speak to a live person," says Eric Jackson, VP of VoiceGenie Technologies Inc., which makes voiceXML servers and speech interpretation software.
Other business uses of voiceXML include:
- a telephone system that enables employees to retrieve benefits and other corporate intranet data via voice prompts
- workers who bill by the hour could input time and expense information into a Web application via telephone or mobile phone.
- sales force workers can use the phone to access customer data, calendar, and address book information.