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IBM Extends Leadership in Voice Recognition Software, Announces New Customers, Partners, Products

Chrysler Group, Intel, Hitachi, Johnson Controls, Legend Computers, Maritz, Others to Use IBM's Software; Enhancements to IBM WebSphere Voice Product Line Announced

SOMERS, N.Y. - 26 Oct 2001: IBM today announced a broad range of new customers, partners and products in its comprehensive strategy to provide voice recognition software for mobile e-business.

New customers and partners span three continents and key targets of IBM's voice business: the automobile industry for telematics, the growing market segment for products and services that deliver wireless voice and data information to vehicles; manufacturers of personal digital assistants and other mobile devices; telephone call centers; and e-businesses of all sizes.

They include major automotive supplier Johnson Controls, which has chosen IBM's Embedded ViaVoice as the speech software for its telematics offerings -- including an innovative, voice-enabled communications system that will be deployed by the Chrysler Group. Others include Intel Corporation and Hitachi, as well as leading Chinese computer maker Legend, and employee-incentives services firm Maritz Limited.

Worldwide spending and revenues from voice applications will reach $41 billion by 2005, says The Kelsey Group, a Princeton, NJ-based market research firm. In addition, it predicts that U.S. and European spending on telematics will exceed $6.4 billion by 2006.

IBM today also announced WebSphere Voice Server 2.0, software that resides on a Web server and lets people access the Web and corporate databases simply by speaking commands into a phone and listening to a computerized voice. New features include "concatenative" speech synthesis that sounds closer to a real person, and support for more languages -- Mandarin (Simplified and Traditional), Italian, Japanese and Spanish (European, U.S. and Latin American) -- in addition to existing support for English (U.S., U.K. and Canadian), French and German.

Also, IBM introduced WebSphere Voice Response with Direct Talk Technology -- the latest version of its widely used Interactive Voice Response (IVR) software that accepts both voice and touchtone keypad response. With roots in the phone system rather than the Internet, IVR systems automate a range of services, such as banking-by-phone and order entry. Formerly known as DirectTalk, the product can now handle higher call loads and has been brought under WebSphere -- IBM's flagship e-business infrastructure software -- to reflect the growing ties between telephones and the Internet.

IBM's voice recognition software relies on open, non-proprietary standards such as VoiceXML and Java(TM), which make it easy to create software for people to access information by voice over the phone and helps businesses integrate disparate systems.

"This set of announcements defines a clear leadership position in terms of end-to-end 'whole product' solutions for the voice ecosystem," said Mark Plakias, Senior VP of Voice & Commerce at The Kelsey Group. "There is no other company with such a comprehensive portfolio of speech-related technologies."

The Kelsey Group recently issued an analysis of the telematics market that shows a $10 billion revenue stream for voice-enabled services by 2005. "The wins in the automotive space for both embedded and server solutions is remarkable for its breadth, and rich scope of partners," added Plakias.

IBM's new customers and partners in telematics:

In the handheld computer market:

IBM's server-based voice software particularly helps call centers, allowing them to automate common phone interactions and devote customer service representatives to more complex tasks. Customers enjoy a lack of hold time and, thanks to more accurate voice recognition, the ability to speak more naturally.

New customers and partners:

New products and offerings announced today:

"Voice technology is rapidly increasing its presence in the business and consumer mainstream," said W.S. Ozzie Osborne, General Manager, IBM Voice Systems. "Customers announced today are using IBM's software in a range of applications -- from cars to consumer electronics to telecommunications. Demand is increasing dramatically as businesses realize the value that this technology can add."

Contact(s) information

Geraldine Kan
IBM Media Relations
(914) 766-1715
gkan@us.ibm.com

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