Like any other industry, IVR Industry has also gone through many changes as per market dynamics and demand. Though, I have not been in this IVR industry very long time, even in this short period of me in it for last 10 years, I can see many changes and how it has evolved.
Back in 2002-2003, when I started learning about IVR, Dialogic was almost synonymous with IVR and writing IVR Software was using C or C++ from sample codes provided in Dialogic System Release Software! It has evolved now with many CTI card vendors, IVR Toolkit, Open Source Asterisk, W3C Standards like VXML and now a IVR in Cloud! It has come a long way!
While, I tried to find information about history of IVR technology and how it evolved, I could not find much data. But I thought, I would try to list how various IVR companies have worked to make making IVR application easier to develop and own over the years.
1. Writing in C++ with using API available with CTI hardware
I think this was the oldest way of writing IVR software and still many Dialogic developers use it. Though new generation IVR Developers consider this to be obsolete way of writing IVR Software, but it has some advantages of having more control on Telephony part.
I think popularity of using native API of CTI boards started declining after 2000.
2. IVR ToolKit
As Microsoft has introduced easier development tools like Visual Basic, Visual C++ etc., IVR Toolkit has also evolved in late 1990s which works just as a “Telephony Control” to be used with high level development languages. I think it has become popular after 2000. Its a great tool for on-premise IVR systems though it can also be used for IVR Hosting.
I think Asterisk has also evolved in Linux platform in the same time has become quite popular among ‘Open Source’ Community. It has also introduced low cost CTI cards which use computing power of host computer for Telephony Functions.
3. Visual Tool
Along with IVR Toolkit, drag and drop visual tools have also emerged after 2000, where a complete new development environment is available to developer to drag ‘IVR Modules’ which can be just dragged and dropped at required places. This eliminated requirement of doing any coding, just knowing the IVR Call flow. Some tools even generate VXML code as output which can be executed in any VXML browser. I think this has helped popularised hosted IVR Service. It is a great and preferred tool for IVR Hosting. I think it has evolved after 2006.
4. Web Standard
With immense advancement in Web Technology and increasing convergence, TAG based standard for IVR, VXML, has also emerged in 1999 when Telecom Giants formed a forum. This is particularly useful for PBX systems which can now have customised IVR. This is also used by many IVR Hosting providers.
It has now reached VXML 2.0 and many browsers available. It is a favorite tool for ‘Open Source’ community.
5. Cloud IVR
This is the recent introduction in IVR industry started in 2008 or so. Here simple IVR related task are done by some simple instructions, or TAG online in a hosted platform. With simple ‘pay per usage’ model without having to invest in any CTI cards or telephony infrastructure, it has become quite popular recently. Another great advantage of Cloud IVR is, one can use any existing knowledge of any programming languages for writing any type of IVR or Telephony application quickly!
So, where does IVR Software Development heading ?
I think IVR Cloud is the future for IVR hosting while IVR Toolkit, C++ will remain preferred tool for on-premise IVR Systems.