Information Technologies Australia (iTa) has led a successful consortium bid to secure a multimillion-dollar deal with CentreLink. The Federal Government agency will use a speech recognition solution developed by iTa to have its customers report their income earnings via an automated phone system rather than filling out forms or tying up CentreLink's call centre staff. iTa, a specialist voice recognition integrator and applications developer, partnered with SpeechWorks International and Telstra to secure the deal. The project involves hardware, software and professional services with Natural Language Speech Recognition (NLSR) vendor SpeechWorks, providing the user interface and voice recognition software kernel.
The speech system will be supplied and supported by iTa using an interactive voice response (IVR) platform from US vendor InterVoice-Brite. Telstra will offer the system to CentreLink as a managed service under its existing managed services contract with the agency.
Simon Uren, iTa's director of technology and development, said the project is designed to make it easier for CentreLink's customers to give their income details via the phone and have these details processed quickly. It is expected the initial project, which will be rolled out within the next year, is the first in a series of voice recognition applications iTa will be looking to develop for the agency. "This is the thin edge of the wedge," he told ARN.
The process is designed to free up CentreLink's call centre staff. CentreLink is reportedly the largest single purpose contact centre network in the southern hemisphere. With more than 4000 staff across 28 sites in Australia, CentreLink's contact centre network processes 24 million telephone calls and distributes 51.7 billion in social security payments each year.
"This is the result of three years of careful analysis and research into the speech recognition market. We are delighted to be working with our chosen partners on developing this speech application," said Hank Jongen, CentreLink's national manager.