Now a days, Telephony Systems, Cloud Telephony, Cloud IVR seem to be used interchangeably and mean almost same. Also, according to trend, whole telephony systems seem to be emerging as a “Cloud Telephony” which encompasses everything that exchanges information in voice between two places.
I was wondering, why people have started using the term “Cloud Telephony” instead of more meaningful distributed IVR ( Interactive Voice Response) systems. Most probably, IVR was too a technical term which used to scare off normal citizens. I have experience of encountering many blank faces when ever I say I work a IVR consultant!
The other reason seems to be popularity of the word “Cloud”. It started with Cloud Computing, and then I think, this “cloud” thing started invading every industry, including IVR. So we have terms like “Cloud IVR” or “Cloud Telephony”. With internet penetration, hosting of IVR or telephony resources and making available on affordable “pay-per-usage” has become popular.
Most probably, IVR should or may give away to be called simple telephony systems! IVR is no longer just a simple greetings to caller and playing menus, but has become many more! IVR now performs many duties as part of telephone systems that people no longer want just a vanilla POTS (Plain Old Telephone System)! IVR now works as virtual receptionist, automatic voice alert system, voice broadcast systems and many more! So, IVR is no longer mere interactive voice response system, but a highly customizable telephony system meeting requirements of every business/industry.
At one time, any smart telephony feature were built into EPABX and those were programmed using either assembly language or C language. But, now with CTI ( Computer Telephony Integration) boards and the IVR Development tool, developing smart telephony feature has not only become easy, but it has also increased number of smart features in telephony systems! Who would have thought “missed call” would become a telephony application to perform tasks like polls ?
After IVR Toolkits, API based total telephony application development platform emerged which is widely called “Cloud Telephony”. In this, one does not have to learn any new development tools, computer language. One can use his existing knowledge of programming language to develop and deploy complex voice applications in matter of days! Some visual tools have also emerged where one can just drag “telephony controls” and drop on a form to build complex telephony application including conferencing, speech recognition!
Some big players in telephony world has developed HTML like mark up language called VXML using which one can develop high end, large voice applications right inside telephone switches! They have VXML interpreter built-in, just like Internet Browser, which can run smart voice application without having to use any third party Telephony Interface boards!
IVR usage and development have truly evolved! So, most probably, when people now a days use “Telephony System” to denote IVR or voice application, it makes much more sense. With concept of renting out telephony resources as IVR Hosting, “Cloud Telephony” seems to fit with the trends in industry!