It is that time of the year when everyone likes to make 2013 New Year predictions.
But first we decided to review our 2012 IVR predictions to see how we did. While none of the 2012 predictions were exactly ground breaking regarding the way IVR services were utilized or delivered, we were still pleased to see there were no glaring mistakes.
So what do we see for 2013? Frankly a bit of a repeat of 2012, with incremental enhancements. But rather than just our view of 2013 projections, we also decided to scour the internet to see what other technology projections might impact the future and use of IVR systems. Here are a few projections, with our take on what they mean to the industry.
Forecast #1 – IVR usage is not in a death spiral, despite what others may claim.
We promise the following is true, but decided to protect the identity of the company because frankly we believe their projections contradict themselves. A mobility company recently published their 2013 mobile industry projections. Prediction # 4 was “IVR will fade into obscurity” while mobile technologies will ultimately make call centers irrelevant. Yet Prediction # 7 was “Voice search will make its move” thus allowing companies to extend powerful new features to their end users. Well…………….if Voice Search is not an example of IVR (Interactive Voice Response) then what do we know?!? Sounds like IVR will be around for a while after all.
Forecast # 2 – IVR hosted services will almost completely replace on-premise equipment.
We stated in our 2012 forecast that cloud computing will continue to drive down the cost of service delivery, while significantly increasing IVR usage by smaller firms. What we did not predict was how much the industry might grow. A report released by the research firm Frost & Sullivan, predicted 2013 IVR hosted revenue growing from $877 million in 2006, to over $3.2 billion in 2013. A link to the news release regarding the projections can be found here.
Also of interest is the fact that hosted IVR revenues are now larger than on-premise IVR systems (thus validating our 2012 predictions #3 and #4). It seems only logical this growth rate be significantly influenced through wider adoption of IVR services by small to mid-sized companies, as well as new ways to deploy IVR system capabilities. We believe IVR systems and applications are excellent examples validating the promise of cloud computing services. Once again it seems likely IVR will be around for the foreseeable future.
Forecast #3 - No one really knows how big the IVR market is. Not even the “Experts”.
We found three respected research firms that have released market forecasts over the last few years. Their projections are all over the map. The good news is that each of the three forecasted continued growth, albeit at different rates. In 2009 T3i Group (as reported by TMCnet ) forecasted the IVR market to grow from $431 million per year to $514 million per year by 2013 (that seems low to us). As previously stated in Forecast #2, Frost & Sullivan released their report stating hosted IVR services have grown from $877 million in 2006, to a projected $3.2 billion in 2013 (and that seems high to us, but considered good news). And Global Industry Analysts, Inc. recently released a report indicating global IVR systems will reach $2.78 billion by 2017. A link to that press release can be found here.
So it seems any way you slice it the IVR industry is growing; it is just which revenue number you wish to believe.
Forecast #4 – Mobile and IVR applications are not mortal enemies.
It is easy to understand why most individuals believe mobile applications are becoming a user’s preferred choice for retrieving information. One reason that comes to mind is that with mobile applications the user is in control of how they express their query, while the IVR application typically has a fixed decision tree. However, both applications have the intended goal providing a cost-effective method for customers to retrieve information without involving the expense of live agents. And in many cases, mobile applications can hand off queries to an automated IVR system or live agent when necessary. Companies using both IVR and mobile applications for customer support need to be clear on the benefits both types of service offer, and design their systems appropriately.
Forecast #5 – The most prevalent speech recognition products are IVR based, but products like Apple’s Siri will spur improvements to context aware IVR systems.
Siri by Apple Computer is a very good example of a context aware voice recognition application, even in its current stage of deployment. Most people don’t know the precursor of Siri was originally a DARPA based project called PAL (Personalized Assistant that Learns), and actually has technology roots in IVR systems. The intent of PAL was to improve computer support to military commanders and staff. While significant challenges remain to speak into a phone and have a system respond with the correct information on a wide range of topics; progress is being made. As systems become better at capturing, analyzing, and organizing unstructured caller or customer data and then integrating that capability with IVR systems, context aware systems will become more capable in predicting caller needs and answering speech based inquiries correctly.
So there you have it, five of our views on IVR trends taking place in 2013. We welcome your comments or even your own 2013 IVR predictions if you would like to share. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 866-324-6416.