Self-service & Automated Response Systems
Legacy vs. IP-based
by Ed LaBanca, CollabGen
Published October 2005, Posted October 2005




This generic paper is the third in a series on migrating toward a Unified Telecommunication Model (UTM) in the enterprise. The first paper was on UTM for Communication Servers & Contact Distribution Systems, and the second paper was on UTM for Voice-over-IP Network Design - including WiFi & Mobility.


This paper addresses UTM for Self-service & Automated Response Systems which until recently have been implemented extensively on first generation stand-alone systems in conjunction with PBXs within an enterprise.  This paper also provides an introduction to current Interactive Web Response (IWR) and speech-enabled Interactive Voice Response (IVR) self-service systems.


Interactive Web Response (IWR) Systems have been deployed using Hyper-text Markup Language (HTML) and Extensible Markup Language (XML) for customer specific data interaction via a web browser. Initially systems used the back-end host database integration of IVR systems to pass customer-specific data to the IWR system via a common gateway interface (CGI) script. This replicated the same functions as the IVR system. However, with the emergence of Voice XML this function reversed so the IWR system feeds back to the IVR system, since the IWR application can be more elaborate via the graphical user interface (GUI) and the IVR system functions as a subset.


Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems have been deployed for quite some time for customer specific data interaction via a phone with optional Text-to-Speech (TTS) and Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) more commonly referred to as speech recognition. An enormous number of different speech self-service applications have been successfully deployed. They include customer service applications in financial services, travel, catalog, and telecom. Many internal enterprise applications are also common, such as password reset and human resource benefits enrollment.


The concentration for speech recognition is on call / contact center applications, but the material applies equally well to any function that can be processed by telephone. Such applications are dependent on specific organizational requirements but warrant research relative to the capabilities that may already be in place within the contact center, and to extend these capabilities throughout the enterprise including mobile workers. New telecommunication standards such as Session Initiated Protocol (SIP), which incorporates new communication features such as presence, enables real-time multi-media communications over IP, including toll quality voice, in the same way that Hyper-text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) provides the exchange of files over IP either within the enterprise or via the Internet. The fact that these two capabilities can now be combined over the same network for voice and data provides opportunities for new self-service applications.



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