On the occasion of our 20th anniversary, our founder and CEO, Edward Miller, reflects on the origins of the company, how we’ve stayed on top of technology and where we’re headed.
What inspired you to create LumenVox?
I was running an interactive voice response (IVR) business with millions of customers, and the volume of calls in our call center became impossible to handle. Speech recognition was the only way to automate our simple low-value questions. After receiving some extremely expensive quotes, we decided to do it ourselves.
We curated the best and brightest to usher us through the process. Within just a few years, we had built a sophisticated speech recognition engine, and LumenVox was born. The name comes from the Latin words lumen, to illuminate or bring light to, and vox, which is voice.
How have your employees contributed to your success?
Starting with our very first hire, we’ve built our workforce with people who embody our core values of positivity, curiosity and passion, and that approach is how we’ve managed to thrive for 20 years.
Looking back over the last 20 years, how has the technology changed?
From the beginning, we didn’t want to host a large technical support department or offer professional services. So, we focused on highly automated installation, configuration, monitoring and maintenance of the program.
For example, an error or warning brings up the name of the error instead of some obscure code — along with a convenient link to the documentation that explains how to fix it. We even provided dashboards to assist in the program and diagnose problems in advance.
Many of these powerful tools are still part of LumenVox today. What’s changed over time are the engines. Our speech recognition engine has advanced over the years, with additions of voice activity detection and noise reduction. Artificial intelligence (AI) has always been part of our product; however, in the last few years, deep neural networks and machine learning have advanced the entire LumenVox product stack.
Can you tell us about your strategic vision for the company?
Our strategic vision has been constant since the day we started because we’ve always focused on being a core technology/voice engine company with software that gives you the tools and capabilities to create solutions to enable a marketplace. An example of this is when we provide grammars or snippets of code, so one can bootstrap their speech-enabled applications. We backstop and teach best practices.
How do your relationships with your partners play into this vision?
We’ve always believed in the value of partnerships acting collaboratively rather than competitively to stay in harmony with our many partners, including Avaya, Genesys and Cisco, to empower their success. Preparing and educating our partners from all perspectives, whether it’s sales, sales engineering, technology or solutions architecture, we make it easy for them to utilize and sell our software.
Our approach to partnerships has matured over time with co-marketing, facilitating the value propositions and benefits of using our full stack voice software.
How have your customers changed over the years? How does your company stay agile to meet their changing needs?
A huge change across the whole industry has been the move from on-premises software to the cloud. Gone are the days of selling a solution that sits in a backroom somewhere, plugged into a telephone system and a network. This migration to the cloud has drastically changed the way our product is consumed — and we’ve changed everything we do and deliver in response.
Now more than ever, our customers demand a high level of both quality and complexity. Thanks in part to our partners, who create more complex applications, we’ve been able to keep up with the evolving demands of our customers over the last two decades.
Ultimately, it’s our laser-sharp focus that keeps us nimble. We do one thing, voice, and we do it extremely well.
What does the future hold for LumenVox?
Right now, we’re focused on getting each and every one of our programs into a single API, that is multicloud-enabled. Unlike so many companies out there, we don’t require you to be in a specific cloud. You can be on-prem, in a private cloud, or in many disparate clouds. We’re striving for maximum flexibility, and we’re going to continue our push into different markets and verticals, with new languages and capabilities. Although it’s taken us 20 years to get here, it feels like we’re just getting started.
In its top customer service predictions for 2021, Forrester Research noted: “Voice will be the channel for service as empathy takes center stage.” There is an increasing need to accelerate digital transformation for voice-enabled channels. LumenVox makes digital transformation possible with innovative voice technology. And we do that together with our partners. For over twenty years we have developed hundreds of partnerships to elevate experiences and create customers for life.
Here are four ways we support and enable our partners:
We do not compete with our partners on professional services or solution design and delivery.
LumenVox is a speech software company that sells software. We do not sell professional services, solution design or delivery. Instead, we want our partners to. Why? This maximizes their profit margins, as they are in control and knowledgeable of the investment required. It also means the sky is the limit when it comes to design. With our customizable voice technology, partners can construct the ideal voice-enabled customer experience from the ground up.
We encourage partner-to-partner relationships.
We believe our partners can drive transformational change together and build partner capabilities to create voice-enabled customer experiences that result in customers for life. We have many system integrated partners who offer a diverse set of skills. We bring our partners together to create relevant solutions for end users. The inherent nature of working together, start to finish, translates into less work for the customer, with only one signature required on one dotted line.
We offer our partners focused technical training.
We provide partners with a complimentary two half-day skills certification training, where our team of experts teach our partner’s solution design and delivery team how to create voice-enabled customer experiences and get the most out of our speech and voice recognition software. We view our partners as an extension of our team and vice versa which is why it is so important to empower them with as much knowledge as our internal speech and voice recognition experts.
These training sessions include in-depth information on how to install and configure LumenVox’ Automated Speech Recognizer, Text-to-Speech and Call Progress Analysis. Not only will our partners become experts in integrating the LumenVox speech engines, but they will also have visibility into our product roadmap, as well as early access to new versions of our software.
The LumenVox Skills Certification process consists of two parts:
The Skills Interview: Designed to find out more about each candidate’s experiences with, and approaches to speech application development. It is more of a free-form conversation that focuses on the candidate, rather than a formal set of requirements.
The Application Presentation: Candidate presents a speech application in which they have contributed to the development. We expect to see some of the documentation regarding the application (including design elements like call flow diagrams, business requirements).
Upon completion, our partners are eligible to take the LumenVox Skills Certified exam. With successful passing, we will send free licenses of our software to our partners for use in their design and delivery lab to easily create proof of concepts.
We get creative with our partners.
We are focused on the relationship, not just the sale. We do whatever we can to ensure our partners successfully sell, orchestrate, and build voice-enabled customer experiences. This includes marketing and sales enablement, creating joint campaigns for specific customer bases. Additionally, we leverage our relationship with key platform partners – Avaya, Genesys, Cisco, Aspect and others to promote the work they are doing across the market landscape.
You are in good company
Our partners are innovative, market leading, world–class companies that work together with us to improve each other’s ability to deliver high-performing, voice-enabled customer experiences securely and at scale for customers across the globe. Our approach is the difference between market leaders and market followers. Are you ready to become a LumenVox Partner? Schedule a discovery session with our partner team now.
2020 has been a historic year for remote working and Cisco WebExOne is poised to deliver a premier digital collaboration conference this year (December 8 – 9). As a proud Cisco Solutions Plus Partner and Gold sponsor of the event, LumenVox will be presenting an overview of the building blocks businesses need to create an ideal, total customer experience over voice channels.
With a voice technology stack unrivaled in its breadth, from state-of-the-art automatic speech recognition to advanced voice biometrics, we’ll discuss:
How LumenVox technology benefits resellers –
We’re here to make life easier. Our offerings are attractive, with demonstrated ROI, and available through the Cisco Commercial ordering system (CCW). We offer flexible licensing with bursting capabilities as well as perpetual, subscription, and per-minute pricing. We’re also unrivaled for our relationship skills. Besides delivering the best voice technology in the market, our main priority is to work with you. We make it a point to not compete with you or your partners for professional services.
What the benefits for end customers are –
A happy customer is a customer that gets the information they need when they need it. A happy customer is a secure customer. A happy customer gets a seamless omnichannel experience. We focus on optimizing omnichannel communication with intelligent speech recognition, text to speech, secure voice biometric authentication, and fraud detection.
What about agents?
We make agents’ lives easier by increasing productivity through higher containment rates and optimized workflows.
The necessary voice technology stack for enhancing total experience –
2020 has fundamentally transformed the way we live and work. Organizations, and the technology they use, are adapting at a record pace. The key to successful evolution is organizational agility. Here are four trends that will propel tech into 2021:
Shift to Total Experience (TX). You may have heard the term “multiexperience,” which refers to the shift from a singular screen and keyboard to a multimodal digital world, where technology surrounds you, going from your laptop to your phone to your tablet to your desktop and back again. TX takes that to another level; it keeps in mind each and every player in the experience game—employees, customers, users. Historically, these players have had immersive digital experiences, but they were separate. Imagine how much easier things would be if they were the same? That’s TX. At LumenVox, we are building our speech and authentication technology stack with multichannel and multimodal capabilities to address this demand in the remote workforce and contact center.
In a remote world, TX strategy will create a strong competitive advantage, as organizations with TX will outperform over the next three years.
Invest in Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence is first and foremost a discipline, with any success stemming from an intense daily grind. However, that effort doesn’t always pay off. According to Gartner research, only 53% of projects make it to production, making it essential that companies put the extra time and engineering effort into AI projects. That’s why at LumenVox, Artificial Intelligence has always been a central component of our technology. Our speech recognition and voice biometric algorithms are built upon AI and Machine Learning principles so that our technology continuously evolves. LumenVox also has invested heavily in Research & Development, so we can deliver Artificial Intelligence technology which is robust, scalable, and easily deployed.
Cloud Enablement. At LumenVox, we have been ensuring our technology responds to the demands of multi-cloud environments so that organizations do not have to rely solely upon in-house IT infrastructure. Instead, they can provide their customers with LumenVox software via the cloud. In a post-COVID world, this is critical, as the world now runs remotely.
Prioritize Privacy. Privacy has always been a priority, but now that priority is marked urgent. Data protection legislation is maturing. In 2020 California finally implemented the California Consumer Privacy Act, signed into law in 2018. The CCPA is one of several state-mandated regulatory policies the US has implemented. Similar regulations appear in other countries whose model has been Europe’s GDPR rules protecting consumer privacy. This requires organizations to put more stringent controls in place to guard against threats and to protect users’ privacy. LumenVox provides advanced voice biometrics to add robust layers of security for organizations of all shapes and sizes, safeguarding sensitive business and consumer information.
In summary, it’s important for any business to always look ahead. The more a business looks toward the future in tech, the more it cannot just adapt and survive, but also thrive. LumenVox’ chief aim for 2021 is to assist businesses in their advancement by directly addressing these trends in voice technology.
Learn more about our full suite of technology here.
Hey, this is Bill Petty with 8 & Out, a podcast series dedicated to highlights updates and events around the Avaya DevConnect program, Avaya technologies, and most importantly our technology partners. Joining me today is Mr. Jeff Hopper who is the Vice President of Business Development for LumenVox. Thank you so much for joining us.
Good morning Bill, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate the opportunity whenever I can chat with you.
So, we’ve got some great news that is coming up from LumenVox. I know you guys have some stuff that’s cooking in the background and a couple of announcements that you’d like to make, so tell us what’s going on at LumenVox these days.
Well, we have so much stuff going on it’s almost hard to fit in your 8 & Out podcast, but some of the highlights are that we’ve just wrapped up working with the Avaya product team on the Experience Portal orchestration designer feature preview for the next release. We’re all lined up for a joint LumenVox product advancement to a new release, along with the Avaya product; so we’ll be in lockstep in compatibility-tested on day one which I think will be good for all of our customers ’cause then there’s not that out of sync thing that can go on. And we are continuing to work on the process I mentioned the last time I was visiting with you back from the show floor at iAug in Phoenix earlier this year. We’re just about squared away with all of the internal SAP codes in order configuration so that all of the Avaya ecosystem can buy LumenVox directly through Avaya. It’s available today, and it will be in, I believe, the next release of the configuration tool, so it’s completely automated at that point for order entry. We’re all squared away to become the replacement product for the deprecated Loquendo ASR and TTS that’s now end of life.
We’ve also continued to bring a bunch of partners on board, and it’s one of the things we’re really excited about. We have two new partners since I last chatted with you; both CCT and Damovo, which are firms that have business both in the EU, based in Germany, and in the United States; and we’re continuing to see a real interest in growing those partnerships. In fact, one of the things I wanted to mention during this call is we are glad to provide free skill certification training for new partners when they’re on boarded so they’re all up and ready. We think those partnerships start with strong skills and experience so we will be conducting a series of our LumenVox skill certification training classes this fall. We do it virtually just like everything these days over zoom or spaces or, you know, some virtual mechanism. It’s two, half-day sessions that customers can participate in, and it really will bring them up to speed on integrating LumenVox in as the speech recognizer for those self-service applications.
Then the really good stuff is the new release of LumenVox that we have coming out in tandem with the next release of Experience Portal. We have several new capabilities that I think are going to be really useful for our customer base. There’s a lot of interest in security these days and one of the areas that has come up again and again over the last few years is protecting that information in audio between the Experience Portal and the LumenVox stack. So we’re going to be releasing TLS encryption of that audio traffic so that the audio between your Experience Portal and the LumenVox recognizer, and the return information, is all fully encrypted so that it’s not possible to snoop or sniff or interrupt that – even if you’re inside the walls of your data center. We think that will be a great security advancement for things like PCI compliant applications where there’s a credit card or payment information collected especially.
We’re also extending the audio capabilities for the LumenVox transcription engine that we introduced last year. It came out in its first version as a short utterance transcribers, we’re extending that to unlimited audio duration now so we’ll be able to handle longer use cases where there’s more than just 30 seconds of audio for the particular application.
The thing I’m really excited about is our new configurable AI gateway. It’s going to provide a really simple low or no code integration with external AI platforms like Google Dialogflow, Microsoft Luis, Amazon Lex and IBM Watson. It is going to give developers a really new and easier way to build and deploy natural language understanding in their IVR environment. We’ll continue to expand the number of AI resources that it supports, putting one of our own that we’ll bring to market next year. We think we’re going to have lots of ways to up the ante in these customer self-service conversations to make them more conversational, more modern in style, and easier and better from a customer experience perspective and a development perspective.
Tell me a little more about this new solution that you’ve got a new release coming out in the fall. So you’ve got encryption, you’ve got this extension of the audio capabilities and you’ve got this new AI gateway for configuration. What kind of impact is that going to have on our mutual end customers?
Well, I think the AI gateway is significant in changing the way we build these applications and is a good way to simplify them. Today most of the combination speech recognition and AI tools that create natural language understanding are proprietary. They don’t have a wide use base in terms of the people who have the skills to develop applications there because there’s almost two or three different skills that apply in the process and what this is going to let you do is tightly integrate all of these commercially available AI platforms like Dialogflow or IBM Watson easily into your IVR. Your existing IVR developers won’t have to change anything other than some information that goes into a speech grammar that tells us which platform to use and we’ll take care of the integration to that external platform. It’ll still allow you to keep all of the audio local in the speech recognizer, which is more efficient, and more secure, and let you use the external AI resources to create natural language understanding.
What’s the impact of the encryption? I mean, we talked about it a little bit and how important is that to our end customers now that you start seeing some data intrusion and that stuff out in the marketplace. How important is the encryption to the customer?
In general, we all have security concerns these days. I have on my desk an email from an organization–that I’m a customer of–telling me about a data breach. Who hasn’t experienced that? Especially things like financial information, Social Security numbers, and credit card information. They all have legal compliance issues around them, and we all want to make sure we secure that data and prevent accidental use or access to it. By encrypting the audio data and the traffic between the Experience Portal and the LumenVox Speech Recognizer, it’s one more safety wall around that information. That information, once it is encrypted, can’t be decrypted outside of the two platforms, so you can’t snoop and listen to the SIP traffic that carries that audio and steal that information out of it.
You know, as we move forward in this relationship, LumenVox demonstrates what it means to really shake hands with Avaya and come to the market together.
We look to the future and we look forward to what’s coming on in 2021. Do you guys have any events or an opportunity for people to come by and say hello or for people to contact you during a virtual event?
Actually, we do. The Avaya fiscal year 21 America Sales Conference is coming up in a few weeks. We’ll be attending that as a virtual participant like everybody else and we’d love to have you stop by our virtual booth and say hello speak to us tell us about your opportunities and we can talk about the new product extensions. I am also actively trying to recruit some channel partners to be preview customers for the new AI gateway capability. So if there’s somebody in the audience who has an interest in taking a deeper dive in the gateway, who may have a potential project, or would like to build a proof of concept in their lab to demonstrate to customers, I’d love for them to reach out to me. Again, it’s easy to find me, just firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be glad to get you into that process because we are seeking some preview customers, especially in the partner ecosystem.
That sounds like an excellent opportunity. For anybody who is out there that might want to take advantage of that, please do reach out to Jeff. If you’re looking for additional information on LumenVox, please head over to the Avaya DevConnect marketplace at www.devconnectmarketplace. Jeff, as always, thank you for participating in the call today.
Thank you, Bill. I appreciate the chance to chat with you and to talk to your audience and look forward to continuing to work with you and Avaya and the whole ecosystem here.
Absolutely! For anybody looking for additional information, again, head over to the DevConnect marketplace. Once again, this is Bill Petty, that was about 8 minutes, and I’m out.
Avaya Podcast Network spoke with our very own Jeff Hopper, Vice President Business Development, for the 8 & Out podcast, a series featuring Avaya Select Product Partners. LumenVox has been a proud Avaya Supported Select Products Provider since 2012 and offers LumenVox Call Progress Analysis, LumenVox Speech Recognizer and the LumenVox Speech-to-Text Server on the Avaya DevConnect Marketplace. In this interview, Jeff explains new, exciting innovations within LumenVox’ technology stack as well as his perspective on the industry itself—where it’s headed, and how LumenVox can continue to set itself apart with flexible, cost-effective solutions.
Read the Transcript Below:
Hey this is Bill Petty with APN, the Avaya Podcast Network. I’m sitting here live on the Avaya engage 2020 floor, talking with Jeff Hopper of LumenVox. Jeff thanks for joining us.
Thank you very much Bill. I’m really delighted to be here, despite the raspy voice from three days on the trade show floor.
I think we all have a little experience with that. So, tell me a little bit about what LumenVox is doing and what you are pitching here to our customers and channels?
Sure, LumenVox is a provider of speech recognition technologies including speech recognition, text to speech, call progress analysis and voice biometrics for authentication for your callers in your customer self-service or your contact center environment.
And how pervasive is speech-to-text these days?
You know, it used to not be so much, but now it’s everywhere. We all have things like Amazon Echoes, or Google Homes, or other personal assistant devices, so it’s become an expected component of a contact center these days for self-service and for assisting the agents.
Right, and I know LumenVox is a long-standing relationship partner with Avaya but, tell us a little bit about the kind of progression of what’s happening these days.
Absolutely. It’s one of the most exciting parts of where we are now in our journey with Avaya and with the Avaya customers and partners channel. I’ve been at LumenVox 8 years, my 7th IAUG in that capacity, and when I started we were a DevConnect member. We had developed some business overseas more than in the North American market and then we progressed into the SPP program about 5 years ago. We had some phenomenal growth in business and awareness in the Avaya customer base. We’ve taken on several dozen new large customers in the ecosystem, and just this past year, we’ve signed a further advancement of that agreement. We now have official Avaya part codes so our product can be ordered through Avaya as a reseller – making the process much simpler for everybody and just hopefully helping to accelerate the ease of adopting our speech recognition products.
So I know that as we move a company through that type of relationship models, you start with DevConnect and you go into the SPP (which is a big deal and you know they’re very selective about who they choose) and then they move into a resale model or kind of expanding the approachability and the availability of the solutions. Tell me a little bit about what’s really driving that relationship from the LumenVox and Avaya side.
I would be delighted, and I think it’s the thing from a personal point of pride I’ve been involved with the last 8 years, so I really take some joy in this. I think the best exemplar I have is our Net Promoter Score. We have sustained an 89 average Net Promoter Score, and in a business to business model, you know you’re working your keister off to accomplish that for your customers. Our customers and our partners consistently come back and say “great job,” “easy to work with,” “the product is easy to install, configure and use,” so we have just tried to reduce the friction of using speech recognition in the environment. Make it easy for everybody to use that technology effectively in their contact center and in their self-service.
Oh, that’s fantastic! You know, at Avaya, one of our key slogans at this time is “Experiences that Matter,” so apparently LumenVox is making the experience of installing and using and implementing and configuring the solution, they’re making that experience very positive. Share with me a little bit about the experience of the end-users, how is this relating to what’s going on, and how your solution is kind of a game-changer?
Speech recognition was always something kind of like Harry Potter magic. You had to go to Hogwarts and learn some secret wizard handshakes and incantations. We’ve just tried to simplify that install-configure-and-use part, and then we’ve tried to do work to enable the channel partners that actually build applications to raise their skill level, raise their expertise and user interface design. All the things that allowed them to work with the end customers to get a really great customer experience out of the applications.
How is the relationship with Avaya progressing as far as a technology development perspective as you look for opportunities to build hooks and implement within our shared structure? How are things working from that perspective?
It’s been a marvelous year. I was in New York back in November to meet with a team of Avaya executives at the Briefing Center and we exposed some new technology that we’re bringing to the table in 2020. We’re adding a new approach if you will, to conversational speech recognition. Where those have been very closed proprietary systems in the past, we’re building a mechanism to allow you to use commercially available AI tools to bring AI to conversational speech, it’s not proprietary. You’ll be able to use any of the major AI resources, you know whether it’s tensor flow in a data center level, or Google or Watson, or any of those things, and the speech recognition in your self-service applications. You can reuse AI that you’ve already created for other channels and more easily incorporated into the product stack.
How’s this improving the customers experience?
The better, or more well-trained, AI models are [improving the customer experience], and we all know the people who have been working on those kind of things. When you’ve got a better tool set, not a proprietary one, but stuff that lots of people are contributing to, it just makes it easier to get the AI right to give an appropriate response to the caller and make their experience less friction bound if you will.
As you look towards 2020 and start building these new measurement tools, what are you going to be delivering for the customer and how is that going to improve what they’re seeing in the use of the LumenVox solution?”
So, from the customer who implements this perspective, they’ll be able to take advantage of other initiatives they’ve already done, like chat bots for example, and voice enable them in their customer pathways through the contact center. They won’t have to rebuild the entire thing twice with the new learning model; they can simply voice enable. I always say, give your chatbot a voice.
I love the idea of a voice enabled chat bot because I have big thumbs.
Yes, me too.
And I have a really hard time trying to type on that little keyboard in an amount of time that somebody, or the bot, is actually waiting for me to respond. I should be able to talk into it and say, “I need, this is what I’m looking for,” and not have to type it.
Let the computer change the speech into text. One of the things that we can add here is because we have such a complete stack of products now with voice biometric authentication, we can help you secure those application pathways as well as service them with the speech recognition in the AI technology.
So, tell me something unique about what LumenVox is doing. I know we’re here on a tradeshow floor and we’re amongst all these partners; give me an idea of what LumenVox is doing that’s kind of new and unique, especially if it has something to do with what Avaya is doing in the market space.
Sure, I think the thing that we’re focused on the most, and I’ve mentioned it a little bit earlier, is making this stuff easier to use and incorporate into the solutions that get to the end customer, to the caller in that respect so that there is lower project costs, quicker time to market. Basically, accelerating and making it easier is a big enhancement because we all know it’s been an area that was kind of a black box traditionally and between technology advancements in the software and how we produce these things a real strident focus on quality and management user interface to make those things simpler, get rid of any friction we can essentially and then the growth in computational capacity with cloud computing in the general reduction in the cost of computing have all brought us to a place in time where speech should be ubiquitous and should be expected component of the customer service path.
Well, it is becoming more and more pervasive that’s no doubt.
That’s something that we’re all seeing, and I think it’s something we’re all becoming a little more comfortable with.
Especially if you’re in my generation.
Well yah, it was tough, you’d question the little device sitting on your desk that’s listening to every word you say to see if you talk to it. But I think we’re becoming a little more comfortable with that. You know, our cell phone’s listening to every word. I can guarantee it that the ads that pop up on social media because I talked about wanting to buy my wife a weighted blanket, then all of a sudden I’ve got an ad for a weighted blanket showing up on my phone within an hour. I don’t put my tin foil hat on though.
I agree with you completely. You know, we get into that question in our space. Like with the voice biometrics, we’ve built a set of products that are very secure. They made GDPR compliance in Europe for the ability to protect people’s privacy, which is essentially the highest standard around the globe today. We are very mindful of those elements of our product development process to in making all the things secure whether they’re in your premise in a private cloud or even in a public cloud in that case.
So Jeff, I know you guys are here on the floor, and for those that are out there listening, please make sure you go to the Avaya DevConnect marketplace at devconnectmarketplace.com, look up LumenVox, and find out about their solutions. Jeff, thank you so much for sitting down talking with us today.
I appreciate it very much Bill, it’s been a pleasure.