IBM Voice Gateway V1.0 connects IBM Watson to call centers for enhanced customer serviceIBM United States Software Announcement 217-145
March 14, 2017
|Table of contents|
Revised Planned availability date and Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act sections.
|At a glance|
IBM® Voice Gateway V1.0 can enhance your call center by utilizing Watson to handle customer calls on its own, improving interactions between callers and agents:
- Connects call centers and Watson's services in IBM Bluemix®.
- Combines Watson Speech To Text, Conversation, and Text To Speech services to enable enhanced interaction with people over the phone through Voice Gateway.
- Reduces the number of common queries handled by call center agents by utilizing Watson as a self-service agent.
- Enhances conversations between agents and callers by having Watson listen into the call to generate transcription events that can be used to automatically send useful information about the topics of discussion to the call center agent's screen. A custom-built agent application can use the Watson Retrieve and Rank service to identify the subjects of discussion and the most relevant data to send to the agent.
- Accelerates rollout of additional capabilities as you increase the number of queries Watson can handle automatically; Voice Gateway can horizontally scale to meet increasing demand quickly and easily.
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Customer support over the phone can be a very frustrating experience. When a customer calls with a common query or request they are usually presented with a list of options that must be correctly navigated, before finally getting placed on a queue to speak to a call center agent. During busy periods queuing to speak to an agent can take time, and many automated messages prompt callers to first try and get help online. The story when getting customer support online is very different to this -- cognitive bots can talk to people via a webpage, answering common queries and solving basic requests without needing to wait for a support agent to be available. The Voice Gateway enables the connection of Watson-based cognitive bots to the telephone network, allowing the user experience to match that of the online experience; support through cognitive bots which can answer common queries and solve common problems, without needing to wait for a call center agent to be available.
Voice Gateway V1.0 enables the connection of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) endpoints to Watson Speech To Text, Conversation, and Text To Speech services in IBM Bluemix. Calls can be sent through the SIP endpoint, into Voice Gateway, and processed by the Watson services, which can transcribe what was said, determine the most appropriate response, and synthesize a voice response back to the caller, all in near real time. This enables Watson to act as a self-service agent that can handle certain customer queries without the need for call center representatives.
If Watson is not able to handle the query, or needs to transfer to a call center agent for any other reason, it can do so through Voice Gateway. When a caller speaks to an agent, Voice Gateway can also use Watson as an agent assistant by sending the audio of the call to Watson to convert the audio into transcription events. These capabilities can enable a call center to build custom-designed agent desktops that use Watson to detect and identify the topics of discussion and send useful information about the topics to the call center agent's screen. Call center agents can focus on discussing the query with the caller, without the need to search internal web pages for information.
Voice Gateway is designed as a rapidly scalable solution. Its capabilities can be scaled up to meet demand quickly, enabling the solution to grow to meet ever-increasing numbers of calls on an increasing number of topics.
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Voice Gateway requires:
- Docker for single instance deployments. Docker and Kubernetes (or a Kubernetes-based substrate such as IBM Spectrum CfC) are required for high availability deployments.
- IBM Bluemix account for Watson Speech To Text, Text To Speech, and Conversation services. These services are not provided with Voice Gateway, but are required to enable Watson to communicate with callers over Voice Gateway.
- SIP Load Balancer for HA
- SIP Trunk for integrating with the PSTN
- Session Border Controller for handling call transfers to a contact center agent
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|Planned availability date|
March 24, 2017
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Capabilities of Voice Gateway
- Provides connectivity between SIP endpoints inside call centers and orchestrates the connection between the SIP endpoint and the Watson Speech To Text, Text To Speech, and Conversation services in the IBM Bluemix cloud.
- Additional behavior can be added to Voice Gateway by adding a Conversation proxy. A Conversation proxy can detect input from Watson to initiate actions such as transferring calls, connecting to payment systems, or disconnecting calls.
Built to support your current and future cloud strategies
- Deployable in both on-premises and off-premises cloud environments, Voice Gateway can be deployed alongside other mission-critical services.
- Voice Gateway consists of two Docker images in a microservice architecture, enabling efficient horizontal scaling of the solution.
- The primary service handles call signaling, data transfer between various Watson services, and management of the audio transcoding service. This is built on top of WebSphere® Application Server Liberty profile's extensive SIP telephony support.
- The secondary service handles the near real-time transcoding of audio from the telephone network to Watson and back again. This service is CPU-intensive and can be scaled up across multiple machines to increase call capacity.
Bring Watson's cognitive capabilities to your call center
- By using Voice Gateway, Watson can act as a self-service agent over the Voice Gateway for Watson, handling common queries and freeing up agents to deal with more complex scenarios.
- Enhance call center agent interactions by enabling Watson to find and send them useful information during a call, without them needing to find information themselves.
Accessibility by people with disabilities
A US Section 508 Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), containing details about accessibility compliance, can be found on the IBM Accessibility website.
Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act
IBM Voice Gateway is capable as of March 24, 2017, when used in accordance with IBM's associated documentation, of satisfying the applicable requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, provided that any assistive technology used with the product properly interoperates with it. A US Section 508 Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) can be found on the IBM Accessibility website.
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Voice Gateway is designed to easily enable the connection of Watson into your call center. As Watson's services are only available in IBM Bluemix this allows Voice Gateway to be deployed in the cloud to act as a cloud-based call center for Watson's self-service agent, which can enhance or replace existing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions for call centers. The agent assist mode enables Watson to generate insights from near real-time transcriptions of customer-to-agent phone calls is a new capability designed to reduce the duration of calls with agents, and to improve the interaction with agents as they do not need to look up information themselves.
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|Program number||VRM||Program name|
|5737-D52||V1.0||IBM Voice Gateway|
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Product information is available on the IBM Offering Information website.
More information is also available on the Passport Advantage® and Passport Advantage Express® website.
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Program publications will be available on the general availability date, at the Voice Gateway for Watson website.
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To learn more about IBM Software Services, contact your Lab Services Sales or Delivery Leader.
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Specified operating environment
Voice Gateway requires an x86-based computer with a minimum of 1 CPU core. The number of cores required to run the solution depends on the number of concurrent calls that it needs to support, as well as any high availability (HA) requirements to mitigate any possible hardware failure. A highly available deployment requires a minimum of two machines to insure no single point of failure.
As a cloud-native microservice architected offering, Voice Gateway requires a Kubernetes-based Docker environment to run in when an HA solution is required. If HA is not required, then the Voice Gateway needs a Docker environment to run. It has been tested and verified as running on Kubernetes V1.4, and on IBM Spectrum Conductor for Containers V0.3.
Connectivity to the telephone network requires a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) endpoint to connect to Voice Gateway. This can be provided through a Session Border Controller or directly through a SIP trunk.
This offering is delivered through the internet. There is no physical media.
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Product group: IBM WebSphere®
Product: IBM Voice Gateway (5737-D52 )
Product category: IBM WebSphere Servers
IBM Voice Gateway (5737-D52)
|Part number description||Part number|
|IBM Voice Gateway Thousand Monthly Minutes License + SW Subscription & Support 12 Months||D1STNLL|
|IBM Voice Gateway Thousand Monthly Minutes SW Subscription & Support Reinstatement 12 Months||D1STPLL|
|IBM Voice Gateway Thousand Monthly Minutes Monthly License||D1STQLL|
|IBM Voice Gateway Thousand Monthly Minutes Annual SW Subscription & Support Renewal 12 Months||E02J2LL|
|Program name||Program number||Charge metric|
|IBM Voice Gateway||5737-D52||Thousand Monthly Minutes|
Thousand Monthly Minutes
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|Terms and conditions|
The information provided in this announcement letter is for reference and convenience purposes only. The terms and conditions that govern any transaction with IBM are contained in the applicable contract documents such as the IBM International Program License Agreement, IBM International Passport Advantage Agreement, and the IBM Agreement for Acquisition of Software Maintenance.
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Educational allowance available
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