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- Aspect joins Microsoft’s Speech Partner Program, endorses SALT and announces first speech-enabled contact centre solution based on Microsoft Speech Server -

Aspect Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: ASPT), a leading provider of enterprise customer contact solutions, today announced that it has expanded its global strategic alliance with Microsoft Corp. to include a new relationship with Microsoft’s speech technology division. As part of the agreement, Aspect has joined Microsoft’s Speech Partner Program, designed to proliferate the use of speech technologies in corporate enterprise environments and provide opportunities for developing, deploying and reselling speech solutions based on Microsoft technologies. Aspect also announced its endorsement of Speech Application Language Tags (SALT), an emerging standard for speech-enabling telephony, mobile and Web applications. In addition, Aspect announced plans for the first in a suite of speech-enabled applications built to run on the Microsoft Speech Server (MSS)— the Aspect® eSchedule Planner, an interactive voice response (IVR) module within the Aspect eWorkforce Management solution

“We are committed to bringing speech technologies to the mainstream enterprise market and look forward to working with Aspect given its expansive history in voice communications,” said Kai-Fu Lee, corporate vice president of the speech technologies group at Microsoft. “As a leading provider of IVR systems for enterprise contact centres, Aspect brings a wealth of expertise for building and delivering high-quality, low-cost, Microsoft-based speech IVR applications. Together with Aspect, we look forward to driving speech technology throughout the corporate enterprise to every business user.”

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen speech evolve from a novel, yet rudimentary technology into real applications that deliver true business value. As evidenced by our Uniphi architecture, Aspect understands the benefit of unifying voice with the rest of the enterprise—to increase customer satisfaction, create new selling opportunities and improve overall enterprise efficiency,” said Pat Bernard, Aspect’s vice president of channels and alliances. “Aspect also recognises that speech-enabled, Web-based solutions will experience faster adoption only if they are based on open standards. We endorse the SALT standard and support Microsoft’s vision of speech as a pervasive, mainstream technology accessible from any device.”

The Microsoft Speech Server, part of the Windows Server System™ family of products, is designed to be the most integrated, flexible and cost-effective speech platform available. It is intended to deliver low total cost of ownership for enterprise-scale speech application deployments for large companies, as well as midsize companies that previously could not afford a speech solution. The MSS, used in conjunction with the Microsoft Speech Application Software Development Kit (SASDK), forms a comprehensive speech package for companies interested in developing, testing, deploying and managing SALT-based telephony and multimodal applications.

Under this agreement, Aspect will develop and deploy new applications built with the Microsoft SASDK on the Microsoft Speech Server, as well as MSS-based versions of existing Aspect speech-enabled applications. The first of these speech-enabled applications to be released will be Aspect eSchedule Planner for MSS, currently in trial with the Shop at Home Network, an Aspect customer.

The Aspect eSchedule Planner is an IVR application that automates a range of contact centre staffing processes involving time-off requests, anticipated late-arrival reports, illness and other agent information critical to scheduling. The module within the Aspect eWorkforce Management solution shields managers from frequent, time-consuming interruptions, while giving agents more freedom to control and manage their schedules.

“More than just an IVR system, we credit Aspect Customer Self-Service with helping us experience significant revenue growth and cost savings since implementing the solution four years ago,” said Bob Miller, Shop At Home’s vice president of information technology. “Because of our positive track record with self-service technology, we were eager to team with Aspect again and become a trial site for the new Aspect eSchedule Planner built on MSS. We anticipate the advanced speech-recognition capabilities will further empower employees by permitting them to manage their schedules easily and reliably from anywhere at any time. In turn, our work schedules will be more reliable, so our centre will be better staffed to match shifting volumes. In sum, our business will be more efficient, employees more empowered and customers better served. What business doesn’t want a solution that accomplishes all of that?”

About Aspect's Uniphi Architecture

Aspect’s Uniphi architecture is designed to “unify” the contact centre and the enterprise by integrating the applications that drive customer communications, contact centre and customer information, and workforce productivity—resulting in better insight to business and customer activity. The Uniphi architecture extends Aspect’s vision of delivering proven, multi-product solutions, whether PSTN, IP hybrid or pure VoIP, while still lowering total cost of ownership and protecting contact centre investments as new technologies and standards emerge.

About Aspect Communications

Aspect Communications Corporation (Nasdaq: ASPT) is the world’s largest company focused exclusively on contact centre solutions, and the only one that unifies workforce, information and communications to deliver exceptional customer service. The Aspect brand is trusted by more than 75 percent of the Fortune 50, and more than 3 million customer sales and service professionals worldwide rely on Aspect’s mission-critical business communications solutions. The company’s leadership is based on 18 years of expertise gained from more than 8,000 successful implementations worldwide. Aspect is headquartered in San Jose, California, with 24 offices in 11 countries around the world as well as an extensive global network of systems integrators, independent software vendors and distribution partners. Aspect's UK offices are in Stockley Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex and can be reached on 0800 ASPECT (i.e. 0800 277328).

Aspect, the Aspect logo and the phrases and marks relating to other Aspect products and services discussed in this press release constitute one or both of the following: (1) registered trademarks and/or service marks of Aspect Communications Corporation in the United States and/or other countries or (2) intellectual property subject to protection under common law principles. All other names and marks mentioned in this document are properties of their respective owners.


For further information please contact:

Anita Marsh

Aspect Communications

+44 (0)20 8589 1037

Michael Gray

Gray Associates

Tel: +44 (0)208 744 9168

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