Review of a presentation at eComm2008 by Trevor Baca
This was a compelling presentation on the use of voice enabled applications to enhance/improve business processes by reducing the latency in computer-to-human and human-to-human communications.
The talk focused on real world examples of CEBP applications:
§ Buyer Verification and Fraud Control – A customer trips a fraud threshold when using their credit card for a transaction. Instead of the card being automatically locked (and the purchase denied), the system can call the user and prompt them to ‘press 1’ if the charge is valid. The user can also press 9 to contact C/S and dispute the charge.
§ Critical System Support – The system can be configured to automatically contact (dial) essential support staff and alert them to critical system problems/outages. The systems can also ‘conference in’ members of the support team to discuss/resolve the problem.
§ Wakeup Call Notifications – The user can set their current location (city or Zip Code) and time of wakeup. The system will call user with a ‘wakeup call’ and play relevant information (i.e. local weather, traffic information, flight status) based on their notification profile.
§ Job Site Closure Notifications – The system will call team members and notify them of job site closures. The notification app can get a confirmation of receipt of the message from the users.
§ Caring Line Services (not really a CEBP app) – Automated system that allows callers to leave ‘caring’ messages for individuals who are in need of support. The messages can be picked up and played from anywhere. This is an example of a communication system that is used to broker human-to-human communications.
The following is a summary of Trevor’s report on Judaka’s key learning and takeaways from their experience in developing CEBP applications, and my response/take on his [their] findings.
§ Voice apps are easier to develop then Web application. -> I would agree for simple voice applications. However, for complex voice applications that is clearly not the case. The problems with poor quality voice application and poorly designed voice dialogs are well known.
§ The best opportunities for voice services are in areas where there is a sense of urgency (i.e. disaster response). -> Yes, especially if you want the parties to be able to communication immediately. You could to the same thing with SMS multi-casting, but that would not be my first choice for communications when I am in the middle of trying to recover critical systems/services.
§ Voice can be a better bearer of emotion. -> Yes, this a clear advantage of voice over Email or SMS.
§ Try to target times in which things are going to happen, rather places where which things happen. -> I am not sure that I completely agree with that. Location based services are going to be huge.
§ Look for opportunities where people that are texting or IMing and want/need to talk to one another. -> Yes, clearly a good opportunity for automated voice connect
§ If scaling is not currently a problem, it will be [it you are the least bit successful]. -> Yes!
§ Integration is hard. Even if you have APIs, and a Web Service architecture – integration will take time and effort. -> Yes, and you need to carefully manage the customer’s expectations at every step of the process.
§ Vertical markets did not work the way they thought that they thought that they would. Voice did not seem to provide a significant advantage in a particular market. -> I am not sure what to say about that. It is clear that their voice applications can be used in many ‘horizontals’. However, there are many successful voice applications for the corrections, medical, finance, legal, insurance, and travel markets.
§ Our best solutions come from thinking about people [the end user] and real-world problems and issues. -> Yes!
§ The money is in the enterprise; the monetization for products and services is right there [the slide shows logos of Apple and Nike]. -> If what he is saying is “don’t expect the end user to directly pay for the service”, then yes, I would agree.
The last point needs a good bit more discussion. What is the value proposition for the product/service? Who is going to pay for it, and how much will they be willing to pay?