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Pass the SALT; VXML Seems To Be King
[August 01, 2005]

Pass the SALT; VXML Seems To Be King


By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Interaction Solutions

If you've been following news of speech technologies lately, you'll notice that the VXML standard has been growing by proverbial leaps and bounds. The VoiceXML Forum announced today that 12 new platforms have been certified through the Platform Certification Program. The companies attaining certification are Avaya, Edify, Envox Worldwide, Genesys, Holly Connects, Nortel, Nuance, VoiceGenie, Vocalocity, Voxeo, Voxpilot and West Corporation. (More specific information about the certifications can be found at www.voicexml.org/platform_certification/certified_platforms.html). The VoiceXML forum is an industry group with a mission to help promote and accelerate industry's adoption of VXML-based applications.



What certification means, in this case, is these 12 platforms have "passed" the VoiceXML 2.0 test suite. (The release indicated that the Platform Certification Program will test for VoiceXML 2.1, the next generation, conformance in the near future.)

"We're increasingly hearing that vendors are choosing to certify their VoiceXML platform implementations in response to customer demand, and the volume of certification requests has been increasing," said Bruce Pollock, chairman of the VoiceXML Forum. "Certification helps ensure cross-vendor interoperability of platforms, tools and applications, which stabilizes and matures the industry. That gives customers confidence that a wide variety of VoiceXML-certified platforms are sound speech technology investments. In turn, application developers and tool providers are encouraged to support VoiceXML, which further strengthens the ecosystem."


"VoiceXML is the industry standard for voice-automated applications," said Steve Cramoysan, research director at Gartner. "The advantages of having a standard go well beyond that of easing portability of applications from one platform to another. Customers should require that vendors who claim conformance to VoiceXML demonstrate their commitment by gaining formal certification of their platforms."

So, you might be asking yourself, what happened to the SALT Forum? It still exists. Many speech technologies are members of both organizations, and offer products built on both standards.

But we had a particularly telling moment when TMC was inviting speakers for our Speech-World show, held in May in Dallas. I spoke with a company that is a founding member of the SALT Forum (it shall remain nameless for the purpose of peace and harmony) and invited them to be part of our "VXML Versus SALT Shootout" panel. The company accepted, provided it could "argue" on the side of VXML. "But you're a founding member of the SALT Forum!" I said.

The response was something along the lines of, "Yes, well, we're still committed to the SALT standard, but we'd really like to speak about VXML." In my head, I thought the response was worthy of a few piles of bovine-based compost materials.

The truth of the matter is, from my perspective, it's very hard to find anyone who is enthused about SALT anymore. Perhaps there are enthusiasts, but they're not issuing press releases or offering to speak out. Even the SALT Forum doesn't seem very enthused about itself lately; the amount of news it has posted about itself is negligible. (View the Forum's Web site at http://www.saltforum.org/)

In that question of several years ago, "Which will come out on top, VXML or SALT?", I think the answer is becoming obvious.

You can view the VoiceXML Forum's Web site at www.voicexml.org.

Tracey Schelmetic is editorial director for CUSTOMER INTER@CTION Solutions. For more articles by Tracey Schelmetic, please visit:

http://www.tmcnet.com/tmcnet/columnists/columnist.aspx?id=100007&nm=Tracey%2
0E.%20Schelmetic

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