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Google's approach to business communication

 Google has been making silent moves in the business communication space. Google has mostly lost the instant messaging wars. But it does not want to lose the business communication war. WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have been making their own moves to enable businesses to reach their customers through their channels. Its all about who has control over the communication channels. Especially communication which leads to business. That's where the money is. Currently, Google is the king of search and most online transactions start with a Google search. FB, Amazon, Apple and others want to change that. They want the search to start on their properties. And they have started making the moves. WhatsApp business allows small businesses to conduct their transactions on WhatsApp. FB and Instagram have long supported small businesses to manage their business on their channels. Apple has also made some nice moves with Apple business chat. They have integrated a whole shopping expe
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Telugu ASR speech data collection

Image Source: IIIT-H Developing an indigenous ASR for Indian languages has been a goal for us since a long time. In that regard we have been experimenting a lot, trying out various neural network architectures.  While doing these experiments we found that there was no good dataset for Indian languages. While discussing with IIIT professors we got to know that the government of India was also exploring options to generate a good dataset. We immediately offered our help and our platform for this endeavor. So, as a starting step we have come up with a few campaigns to encourage users to donate speech data. We wanted to make it fun, so our first few campaigns are along the lines of JAMs(Just a Minute speech topics) etc. A topic will be provided and you need to speak for a minute on that topic. We have started this campaign for college students to start with. Of course anyone can participate and contribute their data. The more the merrier :) We will adding a lot more innovative ways utiliz

Google business messages and chat agents-A match made in heaven

Google has launched Google business messages without much fanfare. It's just a small button that pops up when someone searches for your business on Google. But from the conversation industry perspective this is HUGE .   Do you know that the small call button drives millions of calls i n a year for pizza joints and other retailers in the US. Businesses spend more than a trillion dollars supporting billions of customer service calls each year. Now imagine how many chat conversations the "Message" button can drive.  Think of how customers interact with business. 1. Search on Google. 2. Click on web site link. 3. Web site shows chat pop up and tries to force the user to chat.(Annoying. I know :)) 4. User clicks on chat and starts conversing with a bot or an agent. This flow can now be completely changed. The new flow can be: 1. Search on Google. 2. User clicks on Message and starts conversing with a bot or an agent. What if you could design a customer experience that helps

WhatsApp as a contact center

Contact centers have been using social media as a channel for a while now. They use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Google+ to connect with leads and customers. But, have you ever thought of using WhatsApp? I get it – WhatsApp is a simple messaging app and it does not have the same functionality that other social networks have.  But, that shouldn’t stop you from exploring this channel. WhatsApp has more than1 billion active users. This is more than any other messaging app in the world. Plus, WhatsApp is the fastest growing social network. It is the number one messaging app in India, Brazil, and South Africa.  I know that WhatsApp is not a social network, but when you start a conversation with a prospect, the prospect will see your company’s name and contact details right under your contact details. This is a great way to start a conversation with your prospect and to set the tone for future interactions.  Plus, since WhatsApp is a messaging app, sales reps can send product update

Making WhatsApp work for your customer support

WhatsApp is slowly opening up the business API. Even now its not a straight forward process and you need to go through hoops or work with a partner to get the business API access. But lets say you are one of the lucky ones and have got access to the business API.(or you can talk to us and we will get you started). You now want to start providing support to your customers on the WhatsApp channel. What are some important points to remember? Do you need to do anything special? What are its advantages? What are its disadvantages? In this blogpost I will try to answer these questions. Its just another channel: WhatsApp maybe the most used messaging platform in the world, but for your business, its just another channel. Deal with it like you would any other channel. It has the advantages of a chat channel(asynchronous, multiple chats can be handled by a single agent, share photos etc) with the added advantage that your customers need not install any new chat widgets or get used to a

Ozonetel. Take 2, The Text Edition

Ever since we introduced cloud telephony to India in 2009, Ozonetel has always been known as the go to startup for cloud telephony requirements like cloud call centers and virtual numbers. Voice has been our mainstay for a long time and it will continue to be so in the future too. But starting this month, we at Ozonetel have decided to have an increased focus on text based communication channels in addition to voice channels. It's not that we did not support these channels earlier. We already supported, chat and some email functionality. But it has been in bits and pieces only. But starting this month text channels, including email, chat and social media will become First Class Citizens in our stack. They will get the same love that our voice channels get. Unsplash           To achieve this we have planned several upgrades to our platform which will unfold over the coming weeks. Here is a sneak peak of what we are planning. Built in Contact Manager: This has been a long requested f

Cloud Telephony-History and state of the art

Well, its been 11 years since Twilio launched their voice API in November 2008. I would say that was a major turning point in the cloud telephony industry. Before that, for people to build telephony applications, you either had to depend on proprietary platforms like Avaya dialog designer or build on arcane technologies like VXML which again was supported at varying degrees by the incumbents. Enter Twilio with their voice API and the industry changed for the better. Since it's been almost 11 years now I thought now might be a good time to do a comprehensive review of the cloud telephony industry as a whole in general and in India in particular. The Beginning Twilio was undoubtedly the startup which ushered in the era of cloud telephony. They started in November 2008. At that time in India, we at Ozonetel had launched a hosted VXML platform. There were no takers. After all who coded in VXML :) So when Twilio launched and we saw them take off, we immediately realized tha