RealTime IT News

Alliance Plans to Bring E-Commerce to the Telephone

Motorola Inc., Visa International, BroadVision Inc. and a host of other companies have joined with Nuance Communications to introduce V- Commerce, intended to bring Internet e-commerce to the telephone.

The technology "enables anybody who is away from a computer to reap the benefits of electronic commerce using natural language speech recognition," the companies said.

As members of the V-Commerce Alliance, the companies said they will build and deploy applications using a voice interface. With V-Commerce applications, people will be able to complete self-service transactions whether they are in their office, their home or anywhere in between, alternatively using the Web or the telephone, the companies said.

As speech recognition has matured, a voice user interface over the telephone has become as compelling as a graphical user interface, the companies said.

Current Nuance customers that have deployed V-Commerce applications include Charles Schwab, American Airlines, Fidelity Investments, General Magic and viaWorld Network.

"V-Commerce builds on all the benefits of electronic commerce and makes them easy and accessible to everyone," said Ronald Croen, president and CEO of Nuance Communications. "Electronic commerce provides a cost-effective infrastructure for self-service for anyone who has access to the Internet. V-Commerce makes electronic commerce possible over the telephone."

"V-Commerce has the potential to dramatically improve the delivery of electronic commerce solutions because it doesn't require people to be in front of a computer for the entire life cycle of a transaction," said William Meisel, president, TMA Associates. "With a number of successful companies participating in the effort, I expect V-Commerce to be rapidly adopted by Global 2000 companies."

V-Commerce takes electronic commerce to the next level by adding the ability to complete any or all of the three phases of a transaction--the shopping or information gathering phase, the actual purchase, and post sales actions such as order status and support--by speaking over a telephone or other connected device to an automated speech recognition system.

Typical V-Commerce applications will combine speech recognition with other products such as e-commerce, application servers, packaged applications, IVR and telephony platforms and hardware and networking infrastructure, the companies said.

In addition to Nuance, charter members of the V-Commerce Alliance include: Artisoft Inc., Aspect Telecommunications, Inc., Brite Voice Systems, BroadVision, Inc., Calico Technology Inc., Dialogic Corp., Destiny Software, Natural Microsystems Corp., Network Engines Inc., Periphonics Corp., SAP Labs Inc. Syntellect Inc., SCITEC Limited, viaWorld Network, Voice Integrators and webMethods Inc.

Companies looking to deploy V-Commerce applications could consider several styles of interaction that their customers, business partners or employees might use. They include:

  • Voice In/Out--As a stand-alone interface, the telephone or cellular phone offers consumer-friendly access to a range of commerce applications, such as brokerage and travel systems. The application involves a dialogue over the phone with a speech system, making it well suited to transactions that would typically take place today using a touch-tone keypad, or by speaking to an agent in a call center.

  • Voice In/Out or Web In/Out--As more businesses move to offer transactional capabilities over the Web, so does the need to integrate the new functionality, through a common business server, with services accessible over the phone. For example, while a travel reservation may be made on the Web, it is the phone that is most accessible at an airport when a change to a flight is needed.

  • Voice In, Web or Device Out--The integrated use of voice input and visual output raises the bar for efficiency in completing a transaction. Instead of clicking through multiple Web pages, users simply say their requests, and instead of the response being read back to them, it is displayed for easy reading.

Apart from a voice user interface (VUI), V-Commerce applications also incorporate a common set of business rules, application programming interfaces and transaction middleware that are shared between speech and Web applications. The database makes up the third tier of a V-Commerce application, Nuance said. The V-Commerce application architecture enables end- users to receive consistent functionality and service through whatever interface they choose.

For more information, see the V-Commerce Web site or try out V-Commerce applications at 1-877-TRY-VCOM.