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Avaya Podcast Network spoke with our very own Jeff Hopper, Vice President Business Development, for the 8 & Out podcast, a series featuring Avaya Select Product Partners. LumenVox has been a proud Avaya Supported Select Products Provider since 2012 and offers LumenVox Call Progress AnalysisLumenVox Speech Recognizer, and the LumenVox Speech-to-Text Server on the Avaya DevConnect Marketplace. In this interview, Jeff explains LumenVox’ technology stack, where it’s headed for 2021, and how it fits into the market.

Listen to the podcast or read the transcript below:

Hey, this is Bill Petty with 8 & Out, a podcast series dedicated to highlights updates and events around the Avaya DevConnect program, Avaya technologies, and most importantly our technology partners. Joining me today is Mr. Jeff Hopper who is the Vice President of Business Development for LumenVox. Thank you so much for joining us.

Good morning Bill, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate the opportunity whenever I can chat with you.

So, we’ve got some great news that is coming up from LumenVox. I know you guys have some stuff that’s cooking in the background and a couple of announcements that you’d like to make, so tell us what’s going on at LumenVox these days.

Well, we have so much stuff going on it’s almost hard to fit in your 8 & Out podcast, but some of the highlights are that we’ve just wrapped up working with the Avaya product team on the Experience Portal orchestration designer feature preview for the next release. We’re all lined up for a joint LumenVox product advancement to a new release, along with the Avaya product; so we’ll be in lockstep in compatibility-tested on day one which I think will be good for all of our customers ’cause then there’s not that out of sync thing that can go on. And we are continuing to work on the process I mentioned the last time I was visiting with you back from the show floor at iAug in Phoenix earlier this year. We’re just about squared away with all of the internal SAP codes in order configuration so that all of the Avaya ecosystem can buy LumenVox directly through Avaya. It’s available today, and it will be in, I believe, the next release of the configuration tool, so it’s completely automated at that point for order entry. We’re all squared away to become the replacement product for the deprecated Loquendo ASR and TTS that’s now end of life.

We’ve also continued to bring a bunch of partners on board, and it’s one of the things we’re really excited about. We have two new partners since I last chatted with you; both CCT and Damovo, which are firms that have business both in the EU, based in Germany, and in the United States; and we’re continuing to see a real interest in growing those partnerships. In fact, one of the things I wanted to mention during this call is we are glad to provide free skill certification training for new partners when they’re on boarded so they’re all up and ready. We think those partnerships start with strong skills and experience so we will be conducting a series of our LumenVox skill certification training classes this fall. We do it virtually just like everything these days over zoom or spaces or, you know, some virtual mechanism. It’s two, half-day sessions that customers can participate in, and it really will bring them up to speed on integrating LumenVox in as the speech recognizer for those self-service applications.

Then the really good stuff is the new release of LumenVox that we have coming out in tandem with the next release of Experience Portal. We have several new capabilities that I think are going to be really useful for our customer base. There’s a lot of interest in security these days and one of the areas that has come up again and again over the last few years is protecting that information in audio between the Experience Portal and the LumenVox stack. So we’re going to be releasing TLS encryption of that audio traffic so that the audio between your Experience Portal and the LumenVox recognizer, and the return information, is all fully encrypted so that it’s not possible to snoop or sniff or interrupt that – even if you’re inside the walls of your data center. We think that will be a great security advancement for things like PCI compliant applications where there’s a credit card or payment information collected especially.

We’re also extending the audio capabilities for the LumenVox transcription engine that we introduced last year. It came out in its first version as a short utterance transcribers, we’re extending that to unlimited audio duration now so we’ll be able to handle longer use cases where there’s more than just 30 seconds of audio for the particular application.

The thing I’m really excited about is our new configurable AI gateway. It’s going to provide a really simple low or no code integration with external AI platforms like Google Dialogflow, Microsoft Luis, Amazon Lex and IBM Watson. It is going to give developers a really new and easier way to build and deploy natural language understanding in their IVR environment. We’ll continue to expand the number of AI resources that it supports, putting one of our own that we’ll bring to market next year. We think we’re going to have lots of ways to up the ante in these customer self-service conversations to make them more conversational, more modern in style, and easier and better from a customer experience perspective and a development perspective.

Tell me a little more about this new solution that you’ve got a new release coming out in the fall. So you’ve got encryption, you’ve got this extension of the audio capabilities and you’ve got this new AI gateway for configuration. What kind of impact is that going to have on our mutual end customers?

Well, I think the AI gateway is significant in changing the way we build these applications and is a good way to simplify them. Today most of the combination speech recognition and AI tools that create natural language understanding are proprietary. They don’t have a wide use base in terms of the people who have the skills to develop applications there because there’s almost two or three different skills that apply in the process and what this is going to let you do is tightly integrate all of these commercially available AI platforms like Dialogflow or IBM Watson easily into your IVR. Your existing IVR developers won’t have to change anything other than some information that goes into a speech grammar that tells us which platform to use and we’ll take care of the integration to that external platform. It’ll still allow you to keep all of the audio local in the speech recognizer, which is more efficient, and more secure, and let you use the external AI resources to create natural language understanding.

What’s the impact of the encryption? I mean, we talked about it a little bit and how important is that to our end customers now that you start seeing some data intrusion and that stuff out in the marketplace. How important is the encryption to the customer?

In general, we all have security concerns these days. I have on my desk an email from an organization–that I’m a customer of–telling me about a data breach. Who hasn’t experienced that? Especially things like financial information, Social Security numbers, and credit card information. They all have legal compliance issues around them, and we all want to make sure we secure that data and prevent accidental use or access to it. By encrypting the audio data and the traffic between the Experience Portal and the LumenVox Speech Recognizer, it’s one more safety wall around that information. That information, once it is encrypted, can’t be decrypted outside of the two platforms, so you can’t snoop and listen to the SIP traffic that carries that audio and steal that information out of it.

You know, as we move forward in this relationship, LumenVox demonstrates what it means to really shake hands with Avaya and come to the market together.

Indeed.

We look to the future and we look forward to what’s coming on in 2021. Do you guys have any events or an opportunity for people to come by and say hello or for people to contact you during a virtual event?

Actually, we do. The Avaya fiscal year 21 America Sales Conference is coming up in a few weeks. We’ll be attending that as a virtual participant like everybody else and we’d love to have you stop by our virtual booth and say hello speak to us tell us about your opportunities and we can talk about the new product extensions. I am also actively trying to recruit some channel partners to be preview customers for the new AI gateway capability. So if there’s somebody in the audience who has an interest in taking a deeper dive in the gateway, who may have a potential project, or would like to build a proof of concept in their lab to demonstrate to customers, I’d love for them to reach out to me. Again, it’s easy to find me, just jeffhopper@lumenvox.com. I’d be glad to get you into that process because we are seeking some preview customers, especially in the partner ecosystem.

That sounds like an excellent opportunity. For anybody who is out there that might want to take advantage of that, please do reach out to Jeff. If you’re looking for additional information on LumenVox, please head over to the Avaya DevConnect marketplace at www.devconnectmarketplace. Jeff, as always, thank you for participating in the call today.

Thank you, Bill. I appreciate the chance to chat with you and to talk to your audience and look forward to continuing to work with you and Avaya and the whole ecosystem here.

Absolutely! For anybody looking for additional information, again, head over to the DevConnect marketplace. Once again, this is Bill Petty, that was about 8 minutes, and I’m out.

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