Top 5 reasons for opting hosted IVR solution

IVR Hosting is growing world-wide and many people are increasingly opting for Hosted IVR solutions. Though hosted IVR Solution may not be able to replace On-Preimse IVR solutions in some cases, but here are top five reasons why one should opt for IVR hosting :-

IVR Hosting ay be your ideal IVR solution!

IVR Hosting ay be your ideal IVR solution!

1. Future Proof

With increasing number of CTI vendors as well as available CTI boards, it has not only become difficult to choose a CTI board, but it has also created a new risk, that is obsolescence! Many people may remember buying good old D/4PCI without any fear or consideration of going obsolete, but not anymore!
With recent advancement in speech recognition technologies, as well as complex IVR systems which may require data exchange between servers located at many places, one can safely say that, today’s IVR technology is going to be obsolete a lot quicker than before.

In hosted IVR solution, this is never going to be a problem for user! One can expect, the hosted IVR service provider will always be updated with latest technologies, features available in IVR technology.
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Open Source IVR ?

Recently, I have started getting mails about asking open source IVR as well as its availability for free, download-able from internet! Most of the people who have asked me about “‘Open Source IVR” have heard about Asterisk. Before going into the details about Asterisk, being open source IVR, I would like to clarify few things about IVR ( Interactive Voice Response)  System.

IVR system consists of  four components, one can say. They are :-

1. CTI ( Computer Telephony) board
2. Call Flow development as per requirement
3. Voice prompts, TTS ( Text To Speech) Engine  and ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) Engine
4. Host PC or Server for #1 through #3 above.

1. CTI ( Computer Telephony) board

CTI board is a hardware and I m quite sure, nobody will make it ‘open source’ or free for anyone! The other alternative is SIP ( Session Initiated Protocol) on VoIP ( Voice Over Internet Protocol). But for connecting to PSTN ( Public Switched Network), TDM based CTI Board is a must and there is no alternative, as of now!
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Outbound IVR : Interesting Implementation

Recently, I have come across some interesting outbound IVR ( Interactive Voice Response System) implementation. While it may not be the best outbound IVR arrangement, but it sure is the cheapest and most reliable in the circumstances in India. Just to mention, majority of the outbound IVR applications dial out a number, plays a recorded message and disconnect. It does not capture any response from the called party.

OUTBOUND IVR Implementation in India

How is this outbound IVR implemented ?

It uses a EPABX ( Electronic Private Automatic Branch Exchange ) which has minimum one PRI card in it as well as few FXO/CO lines. Then it uses normal SIM ( Subscriber Identity Module) of all available GSM operators available in India ( GSM Cards available on many EPABX models in India). There are also few equipment called “E1 PRI ISDN GSM Gateway” which allows connecting multiple SIMs at one end and E1/PRI link at the other.

Apart from this, it uses normal CTI board with E1/PRI connectivity and one smart outbound IVR with database connectivity.
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IVR for Travel Agents

Most probably, travel agents, specially the ones who provides services like hotel reservations online, must be one of those who use telephone for most of their business activities. Though the big travel portals or travel companies have call centers which operate 24 hours a day for handling right from inquiry to ticket booking as well as hotel reservation. But there are many small and medium travel agents which have good web presence, but can not afford to have a call center, or can not operate office 24 hours a day.

But with implementation of simple IVR ( Interactive Voice Response) system along with voice mail system (VMS), travel agents can easily operate 24 hours a day and increase their revenue.

Why do travel agents need IVR ?

Many travel agents already have their websites which advertise their office phone numbers. Since websites are visited by people across the globe 24 hours a day, they may get many calls from all around the world, even when it is not office hours! So, if they use IVR, they can respond to every call, and with VMS, they can record voice messages from callers and many more!

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CRBT and Mobile Number portability

CRBT ( Caller Ring Back Tone) has been very successful in Mobile VAS (Value Added Service) industry ( specially in India, where it is said to generate almost 60% of the total revenue). There has been few discussions how CRBT will work when MNP ( Mobile Number Portability) is implemented in India. There has been few deadlines to implement MNP in India which were extended and now we have anew deadline of 31st October 2010 for its implementation.

What is MNP ?

Mobile Number portability ( MNP ) is a feature or facility using which a mobile phone user can change their network operator on choice or on requirement. For example, if a person takes telephone connection from Airtel in India, and after few months, (s)he wants to switch to Reliance, he would be able to that without having to change the mobile number. Without MNP, it is not possible to switch your operator even if you are dissatisfied with them for any reason.

Many unsatisfied users have to stick to its operator as changing phone number is not an option as it gets circulated over a period of time. So MNP offers them a solution.

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Smartphone and IVR

In mobile world, we often hear about ‘Smart Phone’ . Now what is a smart phone ? As per Wikipedia definition :-

A smartphone is a mobile phone that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary basic ‘feature phone’. Smartphones and feature phones may be thought of as handheld computers integrated within a mobile telephone

Now the question what ‘smart phone feature’ does it have ? Can a ‘smart phone’ IVR like services ? Smart phone features of IVR like voice mail, answering machine or any other smart call features which presently handled by switch or PBX ? When it can not do any of these smart things expected out of a ‘phone call’, why do are they called ‘smart phones’ ?

IVR Functionality in Smart Phones

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VBVoice from Pronexus is free for developers now!

Pronexus today announced that their award winning powerful IVR development kit is now available for free along with their announcement of new version VBVoice 7.0 with more features! Whats more, developers will even get two channels free license to be deployed anywhere!

VBVoice 7.0 released and now its free for developers

I think, this revolutionary move is specially aimed at emerging market like India which is very price sensitive. India also has large number of C#, VB.NET developers and with VBVoice being free, India may finally see many IVR developers. Finally, IVR development may go mainstream!

I still remember my conversation with few engineering students a year ago, who asked me how to start IVR development. I advised them that in order to develop IVR Software, one has to be a C++ programmer and also know CTI hardware. I was confronted with few pairs of blank, pleading eyes! They all said, they knew only C3 or VB.NET! They never did any real programming or coding using C++, though many of them read C++ in their Data Structure subject.

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