Tupman’s Conn3ct acquires ICR Speech Solutions & Services

Conn3ct has acquired ICR Speech Solutions & Services Limited, a highly specialised speech application development company in interactive voice response (IVR) and next generation speech bot technology. The acquisition serves as a key development in Conn3ct’s M&A strategy by adding important skills and intellectual property in IVR, critical to delivering the ultimate customer experience.

IVR is a critical technology in contact centres, providing the initial response to a customer caller before they reach an agent. Dramatic advances in technology and the introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning have driven IVR from basic ‘call steering’ towards a more context-aware, personalised customer experience. Conn3ct had been looking for a partner to complement its skillset and offer a fully automated caller experience where complex queries can be quickly identified and routed to a live agent. Conn3ct identified ICR as the perfect partner.

Alex Tupman, CEO at Conn3ct commented “Conn3ct’s vision for contact centre IVR is quite simple: we want to move away from rigid, linear applications to something that is more human and satisfying to the customer’s experience. We want to distance ourselves from individual channel bots to a single conversation AI engine, that supports voice and chat channels. After careful consideration of the market players, we determined that ICR is not only a great strategic fit for Conn3ct’s future vision but can ensure that we are at the cutting-edge of IVR technology and, ultimately, the customer experience.”

ICR adds important IP and capability to Conn3ct’s proposition. These include the ‘Decision Engine’, which adds historical and real-time context to the caller’s intent, captured using Natural Language, to correctly route calls to automated services or live agents and the ‘Data Services Layer’, which applies business-specific logic to drive intelligent user interactions. Technology in development includes a tool to read in Nuance natural language (NLCS) content and export a Google DialogFlow or Lex app for a combined chat/IVR experience and the ability to blend on-premise IVR with cloud-based Speech AI – seamlessly.

Conn3ct sees the acquisition of ICR as creating value in the business over the longer term. The combination of ICR’s highly capable developers, the processes that they’ve created around developing bespoke IVR applications, and the credibility of proven solutions to existing customers, such as Lloyds Bank, Vodafone and Capita, are unique in the marketplace.

Conn3ct’s customers have already expressed demand for conversation, AI-based IVR that is engaging and accurate, and that delivers automation. Such customers need help to transition their legacy installed bases and remove costs from the service transaction whilst significantly improving the customer experience.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine