There are big opportunities for resellers in the expanding market for voice-enabled applications, according to analysts and vendors.
As companies begin to embrace the new technology, resellers will play a key role in providing SMEs with inexpensive and pre-packaged voice products.
Integration and maintenance projects will then create additional revenue opportunities, said analyst Datamonitor.
Global spending on voice-based applications will increase by 196 per cent from $540m today to $1.6bn by 2007, with customer service automation, automated meeting scheduling and recorded information becoming key applications.
Datamonitor predicted that insurance, healthcare and pharmaceuticals will be the biggest investors in voice tools as they strive to meet customer information requirements.
Datamonitor analyst Peter Ryan said: "Governments and colleges should also be considering voice information and registration services for people who are not online."
Richard Pinnington, marketing manager at Call Centre Technology, a voice application reseller for Crane Communications and Avaya, agreed that there is a definite uptake in the voice application market.
But he warned that consumer acceptance of services, such as interactive voice response, will be a crucial factor.
"Vendors also need to offer greater sophistication for smaller companies. Everyone has focused on larger corporates, but SMEs are becoming a very lucrative market," said Pinnington.
"Smaller products within vendors' portfolios are being fine-tuned and are getting the attention they should have had years ago."
Ian Sherring, UK and Ireland business development manager for IP communications at Cisco, insisted that resellers will have an even greater opportunity in ensuring that new voice applications work with existing telephony and IT infrastructures.
"It is important to tie systems together so that the voice applications point towards the right data systems," he said.
The growth of the mobile workforce will also be a key driver for voice applications.
"Voice applications will let you check your email inbox while you're on the road, meaning that you can listen and respond to emails over the phone," said Sherring.
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