Voice Recognition Applications Readied

SAN MATEO (07/24/2000) - By bundling speech technology into its offerings, two of the leading telephony infrastructure suppliers, Williams Communications Group and SBC Communications Inc., are hoping to take voice recognition mainstream.

Williams, in a deal with Locus Dialogue, in Montreal, will use Locus' Liaison system to offer its enterprise-level customers directory dialing, customer relationship management for call center routing, and self-service information as well as speech-activated dialing.

Judging from the initial interest from corporate customers, the first deployments will most likely be for internal company use, according to a Williams spokesperson.

"The application we hadn't considered offering is turning out to be the application of choice. Companies want to use speech recognition as an internal phone directory because it saves time and money," said Wayne Poyer, director of product marketing at Williams, in Houston.

To jump-start the penetration of speech, Williams will bundle it with all its switching products.

"By bundling it with all of our PBX quotations this forces our salespeople and customers to enter a dialogue," said Poyer.

The business benefits of voice recognition are finally being realized by companies, according to one industry analyst.

"Think of the phone costs that are eaten up by slowly going through the process of embedded menus," said Nancy Jamison, an industry analyst with Jamison Consulting, in Woodside, Calif.

"With a system like Locus you just say the name and you are there. It's quick and saves a lot of frustration," Jamison said.

SBC Communications, headquartered in San Antonio, will also launch the Locus speech technology through its major subsidiaries, which include Ameritech, Pacific Bell, Southwestern Bell, SBC Telecom and Cellular One.

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