We do some regular speaking and presenting about “Voice 2.0” companies. We’re very interested in the different business models they apply, and find it instructive to track how their business makes progress (or not) as the market evolves. One of the more interesting companies is VoiceSage, who are speaking at eComm2009 this week, and who happen to be headquartered in Ireland. They are notable for a few things, but in in particular I think the fact that they have a real business model and a real revenue-stream today (as opposed to “somewhere in the future”) is especially worthy of note. I caught up with their Director of Innovation, Paul Sweeney.
Hi Paul – tell us about VoiceSage?
Hi Sean, thanks for asking. VoiceSage is an Irish based, Irish funded company that provides “Communications Enabled Business Processes” (CEBP) services to large enterprises in the financial, utilities, and large scale retail sectors.
How do you categorise yourselves?
Well we categorise ourselves as a CEBP provider but clients look at us as a customer contact solution, or a credit and collections messaging provider. CEBP is still very young so we sell “products” that customers can attach some core benefits to. We are also 100% hosted, 100% self service, so we are SaaS; we also have full XML API’s to enable communications mashups or integration with CRM and related software so I think there is a touch of Enterprise 2.0 about us as well. Have I left any buzzwords out there?
🙂 OK, what sort of technology do you use?
All our software technology is developed internally on Web principles. We do use some Text to Speech (TTS) software provided externally, but other than that we are designed to be deployed on any hardware combination of cards, boxes, and lines.
Which markets are you in? Geographically?
We pretty much trade exclusively in the UK at the moment. We have enough business there to keep us busy for a while, but we do have plans to enter the USA, Asia and the European mainland.
What “space” or sector are you in and what’s cool’n’groovy that’s happening there right now?
Well, like I was saying, we are pretty much in CEBP/E.20 space and whats cool about it is that as customers get familiar and comfortable with what you do, and how easy it is to deploy, they come back to you with some great ideas as to how they could enable other processes. What’s cool about the solution we have in place right now is that customers can iterate, iterate, iterate, online, real-time. It may seem old hat to others, but for many companies the ability to truly manage their business from anywhere through a hosted service is a big, big deal.
Another thing that’s a big deal, is we try to keep a razor sharp focus on customer value and visible customer benefit. Our job is to know exactly how much a customer can gain from a deployment or an iteration cycle. And because we surface so much hidden value for our customers our pricing model is compelling. Imagine someone came into you and said “hey, I am going to reduce the amount of times of missed appointments ten fold, how much would that be worth to you?”. That’s a lot different than saying “we have a multi-modal communications service with embedded work flow capabilities…. etc. etc. This is what we call “moving the metric”.
It may not sound very cool but we spent around two years building our brand name in the Credit and Collections area in that our solution will help you bring in outstanding cash twice as fast. In this market, with a hosted service, with no integration requirements, with no consulting and integration, you get to bring that in by the end of the month. These are big, big companies. Can you imagine how surprised they are? And they want this right now, so you know, we find that kinda cool 🙂
What’s the biggest problem you face right now or next 12 months?
We face a number of challenges, but they are all “high quality problems”. We have a number of big clients signed up and we have to ensure that they roll out smoothly. We also have two further “leap initiatives” that we are putting into development right now, that we believe re-define the competitive space we operate in. We’re nothing if not ambitious !
We like to hear that! Any big news coming down the tracks?
Putting me on the spot Sean ! Nothing I can announce. Its going to be around 12 months before we can go public with some of our recent big wins.
Fair enough – we’ll watch out for that. Graham Brierton, CTO is speaking at eComm this week – what will he be talking about at eComm?
We will be speaking about business model innovation in telecommunications services, particularly under the Telco2 / Web2.0 model. We have already delivered Telco2/ Web2.0 type services to very large enterprises and nobody really seems to understand how important this is. We think its radical and we are at eComm09 because we think that their may be a receptive audience there, and eventually you have to win the valley over.
Cool. Ok – second last question – more on the business model – what kind of savings etc. does VoiceSage bring?
In the last few years we’ve developed a kind of obsession with metrics, and what we call “surfacing value”. We also think “transformative”. Customer run research has shown 800% improvement in cost performance and most of the processes we enable bring improvements in the hundreds of percent.This in turn translates into savings in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, euro, or denomination of choice.
Last question : What do you read and who do you follow to stay informed and up to date?
- ReadWriteWeb (http://www.readwriteweb.com/) is the most consistently brilliant tech blog out there. Full stop.
- Umair Haque (http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/haque/) is the most consistently challenging and assumption bashing strategist out there. Also John Hagel 3rd (http://edgeperspectives.typepad.com/edge_perspectives/) has been way out there in front with regards business-as-network-of-relationships.
- Paul Greenberg for all things CRM, CRM2.0, SocialCRM (http://the56group.typepad.com/pgreenblog/),
- Bruce MacVarish (http://www.brucemacvarish.com/) – Top corporate dude at Avaya totally gets the 2.0/Enterprise2.0 thing and has consistently smart things to say about it.
- Thomas Vander Wal (http://www.personalinfocloud.com/) Thomas always has something interesting to say about how information is organised and consumed.
- And twitter: my twitter stream is http://www.twitter.com/PaulSweeney is pretty much focused on assessing sentiment with regards the larger trends. I like a lot of different people for different reasons on twitter, but @sabrinadent always makes me laugh and there is something “crowd-sourcing-network-of-users” about how she uses twitter..