Intrepid has been saying for five years that this is the year for telephony and finally, "this year" has arrived.
As the profit margins on PC hardware and software decline, Richard de Crespigny, chairman of Intrepid Distribution, sees computer telephony as an opportunity for resellers to get back into a high margin business.
While Richard de Crespigny acknowledges that voice recognition is still in its infant stages, he says that it is a rapidly developing baby. A year ago a voice recognition program could only recognise 1000 words, a figure which has already expanded to 20,000, almost the normal language level, he says.
A system, now available in the US, referred to as a "virtual receptionist" operating on a similar principle as a phone menu, redirects calls according to word instructions, rather than the customer selecting through the keypad on their touchtone phone.
The system, called Software Advantage Natural Dialect Interface (SANDi) is an add on the regular company phone system but there are other options emerging, like the Televantage system soon to be released in Australia, which links the PBX to the PC.
Because of its flexibility and increased quality, these systems have found an enormous client base, says de Crespigny. "The market for this used to be high level corporates," who had, and could afford, developers who would build specific applications for that company.
Now, for between $12,000 -- $20,000, these programs are being easily written off as tools to increase office efficiency, he says. Freeing up the receptionist for other duties, increasing customer contact, and making sure that the customer can get what they want, when they want it. According to de Crespigny, the market for this product has become anyone with between five and two hundred telephones lines.