The Problem With Voice Recognition
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IVR Software - Interactive Voice Response

This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to IVR Software and Interactive Voice Response products. Business phone systems and toll free answering systems (generally 800 numbers and their equivalent) are very popular for service and sales organizations, allowing customers and prospects to call your organization anywhere in the country. Our PACER and Wizard IVR systems add another dimension to our call center phone system solutions. An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) processes inbound phone calls, plays recorded messages including information extracted from databases and the internet, and potentially routes calls to either in-house service agents or transfers the caller to an outside extension.

The Problem With Voice Recognition

Philip Howard
Bloor Research

Actually, there are probably a lot of problems with voice recognition but as I am by no means an expert on this subject, I do not feel qualified to discuss technical issues surrounding this. However, there are other potential problems, especially in sociological areas, where there are serious issues to be considered.

The first such issue derives from the fact that you need to train the software to recognise your voice. This is a significant process. Now, bear in mind that in our modern world, employees are extremely mobile, not only moving between jobs and departments within organisations but also moving from one company to another. This raises the issue of re-training. Do you really want to have to retrain your voice recognition software every time you move to a new department that uses different software?

Clearly not and users won't stand for it. We can therefore reach our first conclusion: for voice recognition to become pervasive it must support a standard user training file format (say, .vrt) that users can carry around with them to plug into new pieces of software that they use.

But this applies as much to users moving from one company to another as it does when moving between jobs. Therefore the question arises as to who owns the .vrt file? If the company owns it, then .vrt re-training will become a barrier to employee mobility as re-training will be required every time you move company. This suggests that ownership of .vrt files should be in the hands of individuals but raises a lot of further questions such as how does the .vrt file get created in the first place? In the home? At school or college? And what happens if you need to update your .vrt file at work with some new terminology, say? If you now move companies do you have the right to take that update with you?

As can be seen, there are a whole bunch of organisational and legal issues that need to be sorted before widespread use of voice recognition is feasible.

However, there is an alternative or, possibly, complementary scenario that we must consider. To put it at its most extreme: suppose that we all spoke with exactly the same accent and tonality - then there would be no need to train voice recognition software in the first place. If voice recognition software is to play a major part in the workplace then there will obviously be a premium set on people who need less time to train their software (assuming that they do not bring a .vrt file with them). In other words, voice recognition software will militate against less common languages, and will discriminate against dialects and regional accents: it will tend to push all speech patterns onto common ground. Personally, I think this is pernicious.

Voice recognition software has been much talked about over a number of years and it has yet to reach maturity. However, indications are that serious usage of this technology is not far away. Before that comes about it behoves the industry to think about the social and other consequences of what it is doing.

Wizard Simplifies Development

ivr interactive voice response system DSC provides IVR software including our IVR wizard development tool for creating interactive voice response applications. Our IVR software lets you increase IVR development productivity by providing a visual development environment. IVR applications can be defined in minutes using this sophisticated, yet easy to use development tool. DSC also has available a comprehensive IVR software library known as our IVR Wizard Software Development Kit. This optional package is available for programmers and systems adminstrators who wish to manage IVR programs fromLinux IVR, Unix, or Windows IVR operating environments.

Data collected by your phone ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) or IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems can be passed to your existing PC, Unix or Web applications through our phone software. The PACER predictive dialer can automatically call your customers and pass only connected calls to your agents. With our computer telephony software, your telephone and computer work together to provide cost-saving benefits.