The voice business market will take off in the next few years, according to figures released by analyst Datamonitor.
The global voice business market will grow from $656m in 2002 to $3.1bn in 2008, with speech technology set to take centre stage.
"We have seen many vendors and they say their clients have moved from proprietary to standards-based platforms," said Katherine Lam, a Datamonitor analyst.
"There are deployments and a demand for open standards. It's more or less given that the industry will move in that direction."
Lam added that the market will continue to see buyouts. "I'm not surprised to see mergers and acquisitions, with system integrators snapping up smaller companies," she said.
The changes will provide opportunities, however. "The market is growing quickly enough that there is room for small, niche companies," added Lam.
David du Toit, solutions director at call centre integrator Datapoint, said the drive by vendors to standardise had also created problems.
"There's a bit of a fruit salad approach," he said. "Vendors such as Avaya, Siemens and Aspect are all trying to offer a complete solution. I think system integrators are going to be the biggest value providers.
"Resellers have to be very focused, but there will always be space for entrepreneurial systems integrators. The most successful will focus on specific verticals or solutions."
Lam said that applications would also change over time, opening up the SME market. "We used to view applications in terms of a dichotomy between custom and packaged applications," she said.
"In the future, the voice business will see more templates and renewable components. It will be less of a dichotomy and more of a sliding scale.
"There will be fundamentally common principles between applications. And there will be more and more packaged applications as the industry gets smarter in terms of knowing what customers need."
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