Nuance Talks Up Security, Savings

Speech technology specialist Nuance Communications
launched a new software package Tuesday designed to help enterprise customers tighten
the security of their customer service systems.

Nuance Caller Authentication (NCA) 1.0 identifies users by verifying
characteristics before enabling them to conduct automated transactions
access personal information by phone.

Nuance said its voiceprint method is more secure than entering personal
identification numbers through touchtone phones. PINs can be lost or
while the characteristics of a customer’s voice are unique.

Gina Carriere, Nuance’s senior product marketing manager, told that NCA can appeal to several different

“Financial services can use it in a standard call center; healthcare
organizations can use it to give doctors and patients access to
information; and insurance companies are looking at it to automate
claims processing,” she said.

In addition, any company with a service fleet could have employees call
to update company records on their last repair job, and receive their
assignment from the automated system.

NCA also features reporting software to help companies learn more about
their customers use the system so adjustments to the menu or options
can be
made. It tracks customer call frequency, attempts at fraud, enrollment
status and verification.

In addition to bolstering security through voice authentication, Nuance
NCA will save companies money because call center agents won’t have to
handle PIN reset requests or ask customers questions to confirm their

Nuance estimates that a call center handling 25 million calls a year
save about $3 million per year using voice authentication.

NCA is available now and pricing is determined by the amount of call
that’s anticipated. It’s based on the J2EE
platform and VoiceXML 2.0, the programming language for voice applications, to make
integration with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and database

The speech recognition market has been ballyhooed for years. Adoption
been slowed by technological limitations — background noise,
and grammar and accents have poses problems in the past. (Industry
Lernout & Hauspie’s bankruptcy at a critical time for the market didn’t help matters either.)

But Menlo Park, Calif.-based Nuance, which has 1,000 customers on some
version of speech recognition, believes the space is heating up.

“I think [enterprises] are ready for it now,” Carriere said, noting that consumers are also getting more comfortable dealing with automated

So do others. Nuance competes against several others companies
Scansoft , which acquired
Speechworks International last year.

In addition, Microsoft and IBM
devoted time and money to develop
offerings for the space.

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