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RealTime IT News

Unified Messaging For The Masses

Communications system provider Avaya is adding clustering to its flagship speech-enabled messaging platform, giving customers the ability to more quickly scale up their voice-activated messaging systems. The upgrade is part of a suite of refreshes the company rolled out, including expanded self-service options on interactive voice response systems and tools that speed the development of more voice apps.

The expansion means companies can extend Avaya's Unified Communication Center voice activated messaging services to their workers more quickly, such as enabling a field-bound employee's access to e-mail -- including composing and sending messages with voice commands -- and other productivity tools without the need to boot up a laptop.

In addition, Avaya has expanded its Interactive Voice Response systems to include speech-recognition capabilities for an expanded number of languages. The idea, said Lawrence Byrd, Avaya's convergence strategist, "is to provide a platform that is an evolution of IVR systems, that uses open platforms" and can provide integration with voice servers, speech engines as well, as the customers systems continue to evolve.

In addition to the cluster upgrade, Avaya has rolled out new customized speech applications for Avaya Interactive Response systems. The addition, called Speech Applications Builder, is designed to give developers a faster start in designing speech automation services, with the help of open standards such as VoiceXML (VXML) protocols.

Byrd said the new Avaya Speech Applications Builder would help developers design speech automation services using VXML and roll them out more quickly, for lower cost. "The key driver for many customers with contact centers is how to provide a better experience but also cut out costs," he said. This is especially true in sectors such as airline contact centers and telecommunications providers, who are faced with cutting out what are quickly becoming unsustainable cost levels across all areas of their industries because of lower-priced competition.

Byrd said the software development toolkit and with Avaya's latest self-service software releases are designed to help companies integrate advanced speech applications into their business processes, improving employee productivity and customer satisfaction, while introducing new operational efficiencies.

Mark Shane, a systems technician with Healthpoint, said the pharmaceutical company is using the system. He said the application not only helps executives in transit stay productive on e-mail with voice commands, the "Reach Me" capabilities in the Unified Communication Center are used by sales executives to make sure customers can reach them at the same number, no matter where they may be, as well as check online calendars.

"The systems are part of an evolutionary approach with customers and their systems," added Avaya's Byrd.