Datamonitor: Interactive Voice Response Investments to Soar in 2008

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<strong>London &mdash; April 24 </strong><br />Two thousand eight is tipped to be the inflection point for Voice-XML-based IVR. According to independent market analyst Datamonitor, the number of Voice-XML based IVR ports shipped will surpass traditional IVR ports for the first time. IVR automated systems save businesses money and employee resources while making routine services and inquiries available to the public 24 hours a day. <br /><br />In its latest report, &ldquo;Understanding the Changing Role of IVR in Evolving Infrastructures,&rdquo; Datamonitor predicts global investment in IVR licenses will increase from $475 million in 2006 to $845 million by 2012 as the business climate warms up for Voice-XML platforms. By 2009 almost 69 percent of IVR shipments will be Voice-XML-based platforms.<br /> <br />&ldquo;Customer service has become a key differentiator among companies that experience high volumes of regular customer interactions,&rdquo; said Saurabh Virmani, customer interactions technology analyst at Datamonitor and the report&rsquo;s author. &ldquo;In an increasingly competitive market where improved customer satisfaction and resource management are vital to success, the constraints of today&rsquo;s legacy IVR systems cannot meet the growing needs of enterprises. From a technology standpoint, it is therefore vital they opt to use a newer open-standard IVR platform in order to leverage the IVR strategically as demands in the phone channel become ever more complex.&rdquo;<br /> <br />IVR is a widely used automated telephony system. It allows users to interact with a database through phone keypad or voice commands. An IVR application provides prerecorded voice responses for appropriate situations, and potentially, the ability to record voice input for later handling. IVR also enables enterprises to segment customers by type and value and, where necessary/applicable, channel calls to appropriate customer service agents. Common IVR applications include: bank and stock account balances and transfers, surveys and polls, office call routing, call-center forwarding, simple order-entry transactions and selective information lookup.<br /> <br />Businesses Re-evaluating Strategic value of IVR <br />Today, traditional and proprietary IVR systems are unwieldy, prohibitively expensive to operate, not flexible enough to make quick changes in the system and represent a serious drain on human and financial resources. However, the advent of Web-based, open-standards like Voice-XML in the telephony world for IVR and next generation IVR platforms has opened up new possibilities for personalized phone self-service by simplifying the design, development and management aspects of IVR.<br /> <br />Businesses are re-evaluating the strategic value of IVR in the enterprise and service provider environments. Voice-XML allows for the desegregation of basic IVR components. Organizations are able to utilize several off-the-shelf servers to build a distributed system that separates the otherwise stiffly joint components, improving processing power and overall performance of the platform. Moreover, it leverages the existing Web architecture and enables IVR to work in a Web-services environment. <br /> <br />New Opportunities Compensating Vendors for Slow Growth<br /> <br />Mature markets like North America (NA) and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) are seeing a lot of replacement/upgrade activity. According to Datamonitor, they will witness a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6 and 9 percent respectively from 2007 to 2012. But it is the green-field opportunities in the emerging markets of Asia Pacific (APAC) and the Caribbean and Latin America (CALA) that are growing at a faster rate with predicted CAGR of 18 and 14 percent respectively, during the same period.<br /> <br />Vendors Need Flexible Migration Plans<br /> <br />&ldquo;The emergence of Voice-XML now enables vendors to focus more intently on features, functions, performance and price to differentiate their platforms from other platforms in the marketplace while leaving application development to a third party or a different department,&rdquo; said Virmani. <br /> <br />In order to deliver maximum value to the customer vendors should have a strong focus on reducing the complexity of application development, improving the management and reporting functions, improving analytics and providing better integration between interaction channels (voice, Web, email, chat, fax) and between live customer-service agents and self-service tasks. They should develop a comprehensive ecosystem of partners who have specialization in different vertical applications. Vendors should also look to provide more flexibility, reliability and on-demand scalability to their customers and need to constantly innovate to add value to both the enterprise and the service provider markets.<br />

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