SmartVoice and Reigniting Excitement

By Doug Mohney January 31, 2014

Miami Beach, Florida – “Voice is information” may be the revival mantra for the telecommunications industry, judging from the attendance and enthusiasm at this week’s SmartVoice event at ITEXPO East 2014.

Voice over IP (VoIP) is a legacy term now, because IP already touches call transmission traffic in any number of ways. Back in the early days of VON, there was an alphabet soup of “Voice over” acronyms – VoIP, VoDSL, VoCable, VoBB.  After a while, people stopped fussing about the physical medium used and it all became VoIP. With the FCC (finally, belatedly) getting around to allow carriers to “experiment” with transitioning from PSTN to IP, it’s more a matter of time than new technology before all voice is 100 percent VoIP.   

In the land rush of VoIP (1997-2007), everyone was enamored about the transformational prospects of taking analog voice and being able to transmit it over the Internet. Copper and fiber could be used more efficiency to transport both voice and data.  Infrastructure could be collapsed from legacy voice, new age broadband, and different flavors of wireless into a single simplified network.

It was all very exciting. Was.  “The thrill is gone,” to borrow a line.

VoIP has hit middle age.  There are plenty of companies selling cloud voice services across the spectrum of consumer, SMB, and enterprise segments. Softswitches and SBCs and all the other cogs in the voice machine have been around for over a decade.

“Voice is information,” Martin Geddes stated in his SmartVoice opening keynote. It’s a more dramatic paradigm shift in thinking and attitudes than the shift of voice from analog to digital, but it’s already happening in bits and pieces. Talk to Siri or say “OK google” is the tip of the iceberg, with voice as a user interface. 

Embracing voice as information TO BE USED needs call recording to collect information; voice biometrics to verify identity and increase security; voice analytics to perform “Big Data” style crunching to improve business processes and discover new insights; and HyperVoice to deliver documentable, easily searchable person-to-person and conference calls.

Using voice as information isn’t abstract crazy talk.  Call recording is already a staple of the financial, health care, and legal industries, as well as call centers. Voice biometrics is used on a daily basis in the banking community and by the New Zealand government to speed up call center interaction. Voice analytics is a staple of large call centers for competitive intelligence, market analysis and improving customer experience.  HyperVoice, the newest technology, is already being used to speed up the interview process and enable the searching of conference calls.

Running through all of these processes is the need for enhanced voice quality. The old adage of “Garbage in, garbage out” applies equally well to the world of voice as information. Narrowband and poor quality calling hinder the ability of all the above tasks to work effectively.

Voice as information (do we call it VaI? VI? Anything to wash the IoT out of my ears at this point) delivers new opportunities for businesses to more effectively use the information (voice) that comes in every day. Service providers can roll in SmartVoice services to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, add additional revenue per user, and apply the technology internally to improve their own business performance.

The challenge is to move SmartVoice out of the niches and into mainstream usage. Education is necessary to make consumers and businesses aware of the vast potential of Smart Voice services.  It is also needed to break the “voice stovepipe” mentality that exists among the telecom community today, where far too many are still locked into a vision of narrowband voice limited to brief two way communication.

ITEXPO West will take place on August 12-14, 2014 at the Rio hotel in Las Vegas.  SmartVoice will be there.  Will you?

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

Contributing Editor

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