IBM Voice Gateway V1.0 connects IBM Watson to call centers for enhanced customer service

IBM United States Software Announcement 217-145
March 14, 2017


Table of contents
OverviewOverviewPublicationsPublications
Key prerequisitesKey prerequisitesTechnical informationTechnical information
Planned availability datePlanned availability dateOrdering informationOrdering information
DescriptionDescriptionTerms and conditionsTerms and conditions
Product positioningProduct positioningPricesPrices
Program numberProgram numberOrder nowOrder now


(Corrected on March 14, 2017)

Revised Planned availability date and Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act sections.



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At a glance
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IBM® Voice Gateway V1.0 can enhance your call center by utilizing Watson™ to handle customer calls on its own, improving interactions between callers and agents:

  • Connects call centers and Watson's services in IBM Bluemix®.
  • Combines Watson Speech To Text, Conversation, and Text To Speech services to enable enhanced interaction with people over the phone through Voice Gateway.
  • Reduces the number of common queries handled by call center agents by utilizing Watson as a self-service agent.
  • Enhances conversations between agents and callers by having Watson listen into the call to generate transcription events that can be used to automatically send useful information about the topics of discussion to the call center agent's screen. A custom-built agent application can use the Watson Retrieve and Rank service to identify the subjects of discussion and the most relevant data to send to the agent.
  • Accelerates rollout of additional capabilities as you increase the number of queries Watson can handle automatically; Voice Gateway can horizontally scale to meet increasing demand quickly and easily.


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Overview
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Customer support over the phone can be a very frustrating experience. When a customer calls with a common query or request they are usually presented with a list of options that must be correctly navigated, before finally getting placed on a queue to speak to a call center agent. During busy periods queuing to speak to an agent can take time, and many automated messages prompt callers to first try and get help online. The story when getting customer support online is very different to this -- cognitive bots can talk to people via a webpage, answering common queries and solving basic requests without needing to wait for a support agent to be available. The Voice Gateway enables the connection of Watson-based cognitive bots to the telephone network, allowing the user experience to match that of the online experience; support through cognitive bots which can answer common queries and solve common problems, without needing to wait for a call center agent to be available.

Voice Gateway V1.0 enables the connection of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) endpoints to Watson Speech To Text, Conversation, and Text To Speech services in IBM Bluemix. Calls can be sent through the SIP endpoint, into Voice Gateway, and processed by the Watson services, which can transcribe what was said, determine the most appropriate response, and synthesize a voice response back to the caller, all in near real time. This enables Watson to act as a self-service agent that can handle certain customer queries without the need for call center representatives.

If Watson is not able to handle the query, or needs to transfer to a call center agent for any other reason, it can do so through Voice Gateway. When a caller speaks to an agent, Voice Gateway can also use Watson as an agent assistant by sending the audio of the call to Watson to convert the audio into transcription events. These capabilities can enable a call center to build custom-designed agent desktops that use Watson to detect and identify the topics of discussion and send useful information about the topics to the call center agent's screen. Call center agents can focus on discussing the query with the caller, without the need to search internal web pages for information.

Voice Gateway is designed as a rapidly scalable solution. Its capabilities can be scaled up to meet demand quickly, enabling the solution to grow to meet ever-increasing numbers of calls on an increasing number of topics.



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Key prerequisites
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Voice Gateway requires:

  • Docker for single instance deployments. Docker and Kubernetes (or a Kubernetes-based substrate such as IBM Spectrum™ CfC) are required for high availability deployments.
  • IBM Bluemix account for Watson Speech To Text, Text To Speech, and Conversation services. These services are not provided with Voice Gateway, but are required to enable Watson to communicate with callers over Voice Gateway.
  • SIP Load Balancer for HA
  • SIP Trunk for integrating with the PSTN
  • Session Border Controller for handling call transfers to a contact center agent


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Planned availability date
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March 24, 2017



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Description
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Capabilities of Voice Gateway

  • Provides connectivity between SIP endpoints inside call centers and orchestrates the connection between the SIP endpoint and the Watson Speech To Text, Text To Speech, and Conversation services in the IBM Bluemix cloud.
  • Additional behavior can be added to Voice Gateway by adding a Conversation proxy. A Conversation proxy can detect input from Watson to initiate actions such as transferring calls, connecting to payment systems, or disconnecting calls.

Built to support your current and future cloud strategies

  • Deployable in both on-premises and off-premises cloud environments, Voice Gateway can be deployed alongside other mission-critical services.
  • Voice Gateway consists of two Docker images in a microservice architecture, enabling efficient horizontal scaling of the solution.
  • The primary service handles call signaling, data transfer between various Watson services, and management of the audio transcoding service. This is built on top of WebSphere® Application Server Liberty profile's extensive SIP telephony support.
  • The secondary service handles the near real-time transcoding of audio from the telephone network to Watson and back again. This service is CPU-intensive and can be scaled up across multiple machines to increase call capacity.

Bring Watson's cognitive capabilities to your call center

  • By using Voice Gateway, Watson can act as a self-service agent over the Voice Gateway for Watson, handling common queries and freeing up agents to deal with more complex scenarios.
  • Enhance call center agent interactions by enabling Watson to find and send them useful information during a call, without them needing to find information themselves.

Accessibility by people with disabilities

A US Section 508 Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), containing details about accessibility compliance, can be found on the IBM Accessibility website.

Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act

IBM Voice Gateway is capable as of March 24, 2017, when used in accordance with IBM's associated documentation, of satisfying the applicable requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, provided that any assistive technology used with the product properly interoperates with it. A US Section 508 Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) can be found on the IBM Accessibility website.



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Product positioning
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Voice Gateway is designed to easily enable the connection of Watson into your call center. As Watson's services are only available in IBM Bluemix this allows Voice Gateway to be deployed in the cloud to act as a cloud-based call center for Watson's self-service agent, which can enhance or replace existing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions for call centers. The agent assist mode enables Watson to generate insights from near real-time transcriptions of customer-to-agent phone calls is a new capability designed to reduce the duration of calls with agents, and to improve the interaction with agents as they do not need to look up information themselves.



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Program number
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Program number VRM Program name
5737-D52 V1.0 IBM Voice Gateway


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Offering Information
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Product information is available on the IBM Offering Information website.

More information is also available on the Passport Advantage® and Passport Advantage Express® website.



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Publications
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Program publications will be available on the general availability date, at the Voice Gateway for Watson website.



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Services
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Software Services

IBM Software Services has the breadth, depth, and reach to manage your services needs. You can leverage the deep technical skills of our lab-based, software services team and the business consulting, project management, and infrastructure expertise of our IBM Global Services team. Also, we extend our IBM Software Services reach through IBM Business Partners to provide an extensive portfolio of capabilities. Together, we provide the global reach, intellectual capital, industry insight, and technology leadership to support a wide range of critical business needs.

To learn more about IBM Software Services, contact your Lab Services Sales or Delivery Leader.



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Technical information
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Specified operating environment

Hardware requirements

Voice Gateway requires an x86-based computer with a minimum of 1 CPU core. The number of cores required to run the solution depends on the number of concurrent calls that it needs to support, as well as any high availability (HA) requirements to mitigate any possible hardware failure. A highly available deployment requires a minimum of two machines to insure no single point of failure.

Software requirements

As a cloud-native microservice architected offering, Voice Gateway requires a Kubernetes-based Docker environment to run in when an HA solution is required. If HA is not required, then the Voice Gateway needs a Docker environment to run. It has been tested and verified as running on Kubernetes V1.4, and on IBM Spectrum Conductor for Containers V0.3.

Connectivity to the telephone network requires a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) endpoint to connect to Voice Gateway. This can be provided through a Session Border Controller or directly through a SIP trunk.

Planning information

Packaging

This offering is delivered through the internet. There is no physical media.

This program, when downloaded from a website, contains the applicable IBM license agreement and License Information, if appropriate, and will be presented for acceptance at the time of installation of the program. For future reference, the license and License Information will be stored in a directory such as LICENSE.TXT.

Direct customer support

Software Subscription and Support (also referred to as Software Maintenance) is included with licenses purchased through Passport Advantage and Passport Advantage Express. Product upgrades and technical support are provided by the Software Subscription and Support (Software Maintenance) offering as described in the Agreements. Product upgrades provide the latest versions and releases to entitled software, and technical support provides voice and electronic access to IBM support organizations, worldwide.

IBM includes one year of Software Subscription and Support (also referred to as Software Maintenance) with each program license acquired. The initial period of Software Subscription and Support (Software Maintenance) can be extended by the purchase of a renewal option, if available.



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Ordering information
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This product is only available through Passport Advantage. It is not available as shrinkwrap.

These products may only be sold directly by IBM or by authorized IBM Business Partners for Software Value Plus.

More information can be found on the IBM Software Value Plus website.

To locate IBM Business Partners for Software Value Plus in your geography for a specific Software Value Plus portfolio, go to the Find a Business Partner page.

Product group: IBM WebSphere®

Product: IBM Voice Gateway (5737-D52 )

Product category: IBM WebSphere Servers


Passport Advantage

IBM Voice Gateway (5737-D52)

Part number description Part number
IBM Voice Gateway Thousand Monthly Minutes License + SW Subscription & Support 12 Months D1STNLL
IBM Voice Gateway Thousand Monthly Minutes SW Subscription & Support Reinstatement 12 Months D1STPLL
IBM Voice Gateway Thousand Monthly Minutes Monthly License D1STQLL
IBM Voice Gateway Thousand Monthly Minutes Annual SW Subscription & Support Renewal 12 Months E02J2LL

Charge metric

Program name Program number Charge metric
IBM Voice Gateway 5737-D52 Thousand Monthly Minutes

Thousand Monthly Minutes

Thousand Monthly Minutes is a unit of measure by which the Program can be licensed. A Minute is a unit of time equal to 60 seconds. Sufficient entitlements must be obtained to cover the maximum number of Minutes, rounded up to the nearest Thousand, processed by the Program in any calendar month. Total number of whole or partial Minutes in any calendar month are added together and then rounded up to the nearest whole Minute.



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Terms and conditions
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The information provided in this announcement letter is for reference and convenience purposes only. The terms and conditions that govern any transaction with IBM are contained in the applicable contract documents such as the IBM International Program License Agreement, IBM International Passport Advantage Agreement, and the IBM Agreement for Acquisition of Software Maintenance.

This product is only available through Passport Advantage.

Licensing

IBM International Program License Agreement including the License Information document and Proof of Entitlement (PoE) govern your use of the program. PoEs are required for all authorized use. Part number products only, offered outside of Passport Advantage, where applicable, are license only and do not include Software Maintenance.

This software license includes Software Subscription and Support (also referred to as Software Maintenance).

Agreement for Acquisition of Software Maintenance

These programs are licensed under the IBM Program License Agreement (IPLA) and the associated Agreement for Acquisition of Software Maintenance, which provide for support with ongoing access to releases and versions of the program. IBM includes one year of Software Subscription and Support (also referred to as Software Maintenance) with the initial license acquisition of each program acquired. The initial period of Software Subscription and Support (also referred to as Software Maintenance) can be extended by the purchase of a renewal option, if available. These programs have a one-time license charge for use of the program and an annual renewable charge for the enhanced support that includes telephone assistance (voice support for defects during normal business hours), as well as access to updates, releases, and versions of the program as long as support is in effect.

License Information number

L-MCAO-AJ7M74

See the License Information documents page on the IBM Software License Agreement website for more information.

Limited warranty applies

Yes

Limited warranty

IBM warrants that when the program is used in the specified operating environment, it will conform to its specifications. The warranty applies only to the unmodified portion of the program. IBM does not warrant uninterrupted or error-free operation of the program or that IBM will correct all program defects. You are responsible for the results obtained from the use of the program.

IBM provides you with access to IBM databases containing information about known program defects, defect corrections, restrictions, and bypasses at no additional charge. For further information, see the IBM Software Support Handbook.

IBM will maintain this information for at least one year after the original licensee acquires the program (warranty period).

Program technical support

Technical support of a program product version or release will be available for a minimum of two years from the general availability date, as long as your Software Subscription and Support (also referred to as Software Maintenance) is in effect.

This technical support allows you to obtain assistance (by telephone or electronic means) from IBM for product-specific, task-oriented questions regarding the installation and operation of the program product. Software Subscription and Support (Software Maintenance) also provides you with access to versions, releases, and updates (CD releases, Long Term Support Releases or fixes) of the program. You will be notified, through an announcement letter, of discontinuance of support with six months' notice. If you require additional technical support from IBM, including an extension of support beyond the discontinuance date, contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner. This extension may be available for a fee.

For additional information about the IBM Software Support Lifecycle Policy, see the IBM Software Support Lifecycle Policy website.

Program support

Subscription and Support includes telephone assistance, as well as access to updates, releases, and versions of the program as long as support is in effect. You will be notified of discontinuance of support with 12 months' notice.

Money-back guarantee

If for any reason you are dissatisfied with the program and you are the original licensee, you may obtain a refund of the amount you paid for it, if within 30 days of your invoice date you return the program and its PoE to the party from whom you obtained it. If you downloaded the program, you may contact the party from whom you acquired it for instructions on how to obtain the refund.

For clarification, note that (1) for programs acquired under the IBM International Passport Advantage offering, this term applies only to your first acquisition of the program and (2) for programs acquired under any of IBM's On/Off Capacity on Demand (On/Off CoD) software offerings, this term does not apply since these offerings apply to programs already acquired and in use by you.

Volume orders (IVO)

No

Passport Advantage applies

Yes, information is available on the Passport Advantage and Passport Advantage Express website.

Software Subscription and Support applies

Yes. Software Subscription and Support, also referred to as Software Maintenance, is included with licenses purchased through Passport Advantage and Passport Advantage Express. Product upgrades and Technical Support are provided by the Software Subscription and Support offering as described in the Agreements. Product upgrades provide the latest versions and releases to entitled software, and Technical Support provides voice and electronic access to IBM support organizations, worldwide.

IBM includes one year of Software Subscription and Support with each program license acquired. The initial period of Software Subscription and Support can be extended by the purchase of a renewal option, if available.

While your Software Subscription and Support is in effect, IBM provides you assistance for your routine, short duration installation and usage (how-to) questions, and code-related questions. IBM provides assistance by telephone and, if available, electronic access, only to your information systems (IS) technical support personnel during the normal business hours (published prime shift hours) of your IBM support center. (This assistance is not available to your users.) IBM provides Severity 1 assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For additional details, see the IBM Software Support Handbook. Software Subscription and Support does not include assistance for the design and development of applications, your use of programs in other than their specified operating environment, or failures caused by products for which IBM is not responsible under the applicable agreements.

Unless specified otherwise in a written agreement with you, IBM does not provide support for third-party products that were not provided by IBM. Ensure that when contacting IBM for covered support, you follow problem determination and other instructions that IBM provides, including in the IBM Software Support Handbook.

For additional information about the International Passport Advantage Agreement and the IBM International Passport Advantage Express Agreement, go to the Passport Advantage and Passport Advantage Express website.

Other support

Passport Advantage

System i Software Maintenance applies

No

Variable charges apply

No

Educational allowance available

Not applicable.



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Important: IBM does not warrant that any systems, products, or services are immune from, or will make your enterprise immune from, the malicious or illegal conduct of any party.



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Prices
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Watson and IBM Spectrum are trademarks of IBM Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both.

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