WireFast, a provider of production messaging services, will next month launch a text-to-voice service for corporate customers with an option of confirmation of receipt. Production messaging services involve the delivery of communications of various types, including FAX, telex, and SMS messages.
London, UK-based WireFast serves customers in the financial sector, oil and gas, healthcare, and manufacturing/retail, as well as the news media industry where it started life. It delivers these messages via global network operating partners, using Verizon for FAX, SwissTelex for telex, and aggregators mBlox and Sybase365 for SMS.
Ruth Bishop, head of sales for WireFast, said: Our customers send the messages to us in various formats: email, telex, FAX, SMS, MQ [IBM’s proprietary messaging protocol], and XML. We then put them out from our platform as FAX, telex, or SMS, and we’re now adding voice.
Bishop said WireFast also does the same in reverse, taking in messages in one of the older technological formats and converting them to SMTP, SMS, or XML, for inputting to its customers’ back-office systems.
The new service will involve converting messages in email, SMS, or other text-based formats, into machine-read voice comms. WireFast director James Powell-Tuck said it will be the first time the company adds third-party technology to its messaging platform. We’re using the text-to-speech from the market leader in that space, Nuance, he said. Everything else is our intellectual property.
Though it is a small company in headcount, WireFast serves customers around the world and leverages a relationship struck earlier this year with one of the Big Four global WAN providers to extend its sales and marketing reach into multiple geographies. They’re a major provider of major provider of managed email services, so our offerings represent a value add they can sell into their corporate customers, said Bishop.
Powell-Tuck said the two companies WireFast runs into most often are Easylink Services and Premiere Global Services, both of them public companies based in the US. They’re both primarily in the email-to-FAX market, and then there are a range of companies doing something in SMS, but nobody has our mix, he said.
The addition of a text-to-speech service to its arsenal is a logical extension for WireFast, and Nuance was the obvious choice for the technology provider. What is more interesting, however, is Powell-Tuck’s prediction that over the next two years, SMS will overtake FAX as the primary output medium for his company. If correct, that means that an increasing number of businesses are starting to use text messaging to mobile phones for their communications to end customers or remote employees.
The rationale, at least for communicating with the end customer, is particularly compelling. With the majority of calls into banks’ contact centers being made to determine account status and the average cost of such calls being about $6, an SMS message for 10 cents is clearly a cheaper and more efficient alternative. However, this trend also points to a growing need to remove spam from SMS traffic, if it is to become a serious medium for business communications.