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

“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

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.

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