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Avaya Teams With Sun Microsystems to Provide New Platform forEasier Deployment of Self Service in IP Networks

02-27-2003
  • Keystone Mercy Health Plan uses Avaya Interactive Response tolower costs and speed customer service while gaining VoiceXML,Speech Recognition and IP integration

Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV), a leading global provider of communicationsnetworks and services for businesses, today introduced Avaya™Interactive Response, a highly configurable multi-media voiceresponse system that enables companies to save money and servecustomers better by automating service functions. Supportingtouchtone and speech-enabled access to information in companydatabases and business applications, the system can be adapted toaccommodate almost any interaction a human service representativecould perform by telephone. Avaya Interactive Response softwareships pre-configured on a standard Sun Microsystems, Inc. SunBLADE™ 150 workstation that integrates easily into InternetProtocol (IP) networks.

Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV), a leading global provider ofcommunications networks and services for businesses, todayintroduced Avaya™ Interactive Response, a highly configurablemulti-media voice response system that enables companies to savemoney and serve customers better by automating service functions.Supporting touchtone and speech-enabled access to information incompany databases and business applications, the system can beadapted to accommodate almost any interaction a human servicerepresentative could perform by telephone. Avaya InteractiveResponse software ships pre-configured on a standard SunMicrosystems, Inc. Sun BLADE™ 150 workstation that integrateseasily into Internet Protocol (IP) networks.

The system comes equipped with the widely used Solaris™ 8Operating System and 10/100 Ethernet connectivity, enablingstreamlined and cost-effective deployment in converged voice anddata networks. The open standards-based system supports end-to-endIP telephony through connection to award-winning AvayaMultiVantage™ software and communications servers. IP networkingenables companies to implement applications more flexibly andcost-effectively across multiple sites and multiple communicationschannels, such as voice, email and web.

"The trend is clear — customers want to communicate with contactcenters via the media of their choice," said Dick Bucci, seniorresearch analyst, Frost & Sullivan. "Contact center managerswant software-centric solutions like Avaya Interactive Responsethat accommodate not just today's needs but the rapidly evolvingworld of communications built around IP. By 2007, we expect that35-40 percent of global communications traffic will be routed overthe Internet with contact centers accounting for a large portion ofthat growth."

Companies often use self-service systems to handle repetitivecalls, such as requests for directions, hours of operation andorder confirmation. Implementing self-service can cut service coststo pennies per transaction while raising employee job satisfactionbecause less time is spent responding to routine questions. Withadvanced integration to a variety of database information sources,Avaya Interactive Response provides a way for businesses of allsizes to offer 24-hour automated assistance for everyday requestsand more complex inquiries.

Keystone Mercy Health Plan, the largest managed careorganization for Medicaid patients in the United States, providesaround-the-clock information to its 800,000 subscribers using anintegrated self-service system. Handling 80,000 to 100,000 callsper month from patients and healthcare providers, Keystone choseAvaya to expand its system and take advantage of the advancedfunctionality of Avaya Interactive Response software and thenetworking benefits of the Solaris and Java™ platforms.

"The new system has performed extremely well over the past sixmonths," said Jim Turley, telecommunications systems analyst forKeystone. "Our programmers used the system's Java-based programmingtools to reduce development time by up to 20 hours per interfacewhile simplifying the query process between our self-serviceapplications and our online databases. The new platform can queryour databases faster than our other systems, reducing wait timesfor our customers and lowering our cost of providinginformation."

Web-based administration tools enable Keystone managers toeasily schedule system backups, check interfaces and run reportsfrom an office desktop or remotely through the company's VPN.

"The ability to easily move to IP communications and naturallanguage speech recognition played a key role in our decision tochoose Avaya Interactive Response," said Turley. "The systemdelivers efficiencies we can benefit from today with flexibilityfor future integration plans."

Avaya Interactive Response allows simpler speech-enabledself-service using VoiceXML, a standard protocol that enablescompanies to implement speech-enabled applications for both web andtelephony interfaces. This can make building a speech applicationas easy as building a Web page, with the same programming staffable to develop both applications. In addition, the platformincludes proxy software for either Text to Speech (TTS) or NaturalLanguage Speech Recognition (NLSR), making the configuration forspeech solutions potentially easier and less expensive. Likeprevious Avaya self-service systems, Avaya Interactive Responsesupports a full portfolio of speech solutions offered by AvayaDeveloperConnection alliance members Nuance and SpeechWorks,providing a complete range of options for customized speechcapabilities.

Avaya Interactive Response is currently available globally. InEurope, the Middle East and Africa, over 120 AuthorisedBusinessPartners from more than 30 countries are now offering thisproduct. John Ward, European Managing Director, Touchbase, anAuthorised BusinessPartner, comments, "Touchbase's drive towardsproviding clients with innovative communications solutions to meettheir business problems, is further enhanced by Avaya's new IVRoffering. The major benefit of this latest application from Avayais that it has been designed specifically for easy and costeffective deployment in converged networks. This is absolutely theway forward since we are helping more and more clients to migratefrom traditional telephony to IP based communications."

As part of a multi-media contact center strategy, AvayaInteractive Response can deliver computer telephony integration(CTI) with business applications such as Siebel eBusiness toprovide service agents with instant onscreen access to pertinentinformation when calls move from self service to assisted servicehandling. The system also supports integration with Avaya ProactiveContact solutions, giving companies an easy way to contactcustomers then offer an avenue for self-service response to offersor requests.

"Self service is not a separate island within a company'smulti-media customer care strategy," said Keith Larson, Avaya vicepresident, Contact Center Solutions. "For a long time now,businesses have seen the need to integrate service processes acrossfunctions, systems and information sources. Avaya InteractiveResponse on the Solaris platform is designed to provide advantagesto companies that are currently implementing or planning to addconverged IP applications in multi-protocol voice and datanetworks."

Scalable to 120 ports, Avaya Interactive Response easesadministration for managers by providing a simple web browser-basedinterface. For more information about Avaya, please visit www.avaya.com.

About Avaya
Avaya Inc. designs, builds and manages communications networks formore than 1 million businesses worldwide, including 90 percent ofthe FORTUNE 500®. Focused on businesses large to small, Avaya is aworld leader in secure and reliable Internet Protocol (IP)telephony systems and communications software applications andservices. Driving the convergence of voice and data communicationswith business applications — and distinguished by comprehensiveworldwide services — Avaya helps customers leverage existing andnew networks to achieve superior business results.

© 2003 Avaya Inc. All Rights Reserved. Avaya andthe Avaya logo are registered trademarks of Avaya Inc. and may beregistered in certain jurisdictions. All trademarks identified bythe ™, ®, or SM are trademarks, registered trademarks, or servicemarks, respectively, of Avaya Inc. FORTUNE 500 is a registeredtrademark of Time Inc. Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo,Solaris, Java, Sun Fire and The Network Is The Computer aretrademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and othercountries. All other trademarks are the property of theirrespective owners.

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