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
voice
characteristics before enabling them to conduct automated transactions
or
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
stolen,
while the characteristics of a customer’s voice are unique.

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

“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
in
to update company records on their last repair job, and receive their
next
assignment from the automated system.

NCA also features reporting software to help companies learn more about
how
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
said
NCA will save companies money because call center agents won’t have to
handle PIN reset requests or ask customers questions to confirm their
identities.

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

NCA is available now and pricing is determined by the amount of call
traffic
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
software
easy.

The speech recognition market has been ballyhooed for years. Adoption
has
been slowed by technological limitations — background noise,
punctuation
and grammar and accents have poses problems in the past. (Industry
giant
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
attendants.

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

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

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