Voice Business: telcos deaf to an opportunity

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More and more companies are seeing the advantages of outsourced voice business systems.

Revenue growth is on the up in the market for speech recognition - and with companies reluctant to invest in in-house systems, the biggest opportunities lie in outsourced voice business solutions. With a range of advantages benefiting them, telcos seem ideally positioned to grasp the market. If they remain cautious, they may miss an ideal opportunity.

Even as more businesses are considering enabling access to their data via speech recognition technologies, the industry faces a conundrum: to drive down the cost of licenses, demand must increase; but to spur demand, the cost of licenses must come down.

Add to that the fact that the tough economic climate has many companies reluctant to invest in expensive new on-site equipment, and the result is the increasing appeal of outsourced or hosted voice business solutions.

These are available from application service providers such as call center outsourcers, makers of interactive voice response systems and telecom companies. But of all the potential market players, it is the telcos that are perhaps best positioned.

Advantages such as ownership of the telephony network, an existing customer base for telephony and enterprise voice services, along with economies of scale should make an outsourced speech recognition offering an attractive business opportunity.

Yet at present most telcos appear content to play a waiting game, with Qwest's partnership with Telera, and BellSouth's licensing of BeVocal's platform (before later adopting BeVocal's hosting customers) as the most notable exceptions. Most are more likely to purchase voice business solutions than provide them, investing in technologies that offer immediate cost savings such as directory assistance, auto-attendant and customer service applications.

Times are clearly tough, yet the likes of AT&T and Sprint do have the resources to enter the market at any time. For financial as well as cultural reasons, however, many telcos are simply unprepared to invest in new lines of business. Instead, they appear content to play a waiting game, allowing early adopters to prove the market.

Telcos have the potential to transform the voice business outsourcing market, and likely dominate it, but as the window of opportunity closes, they may already have left it too late.

If you enjoyed this article you may be interested in Datamonitor's New report: "Outsourcing Voice Business"

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