"The hosted model makes it easier for enterprises to deploy speech applications, bringing together the best of both worlds - the business benefits of the software as a service (SaaS) model, and improving the customer experience by making IVR's more user-friendly," explains Frost & Sullivan Research Director Ashwin Iyer.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan predicts this market to be one of the largest and fastest growing markets for contact center technologies in EMEA.
"Although enterprises in EMEA are relatively unfamiliar with the hosted model, there exists tremendous growth potential in the region," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Kunal Kakodkar. "Given that the average contact center in EMEA is typically smaller than its U.S. counterpart, enterprises in EMEA will be drawn to the business benefits that hosting provides for their contact center application needs."
An end-user organization's desire to improve the customer service experience using speech technologies is being facilitated by hosted IVR services cost effectively, encouraging uptake in the region. Not surprisingly, it is the mid-market enterprise that has found the hosted model most appealing. The benefit of essentially outsourcing all speech application development and maintenance activities is luring to enterprises that lack the capital to custom-build and maintain enterprise IVR applications in-house.
Moreover, with advancements such as the development of the IVR menu to a single, open-ended prompt, enterprises also have enormous flexibility in designing and customizing their speech applications.
However, customizing and deploying speech self-service applications are typically expensive. With design expertise, requirements escalating alongside the increasing complexity of technology, speech solutions are proving to be expensive to develop, implement, and maintain.
"Although a number of vendors offer speech solutions in a multitude of European languages, speech-enabled enterprise applications still remains largely under-penetrated across EMEA primarily due to poor speech user-interface design and implementation," observes Kakodkar. "The problems associated with customizing these solutions to a particular country or regions are exacerbated by local dialects and variations which may adversely affect the accuracy of prediction."
It is imperative for service providers to have robust professional service capabilities, and exploit the reusable nature of VoiceXML-based applications to cut costs and time to deployment. The creation of verticalized, pre-packaged solutions targeted at the mid-market is a prime example of this.
Service providers can further penetrate their installed base of customers by promoting market awareness, and educating customers about the tactical benefits of hosted IVR applications. Moreover, they can increase customer confidence by committing to security and compliance standards and offering end-to-end, fully managed hosted solutions backed by service level agreements (SLAs).
It is necessary for service providers to roll out robust professional service practices, and exploit the reusable nature of VoiceXML-based applications to circumvent these challenges. Service providers must establish strong professional services and increase the accuracy and overall quality of solutions in all relevant languages.
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