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VOICE ••• Contents

Page 28-28 The Channel

Island Co-operative Society – the ‘talk of the Island’

Page 30-31 Taking a look at the ‘engine under the bonnet’ of Voice



New evaluation criteria for Voice

By Steve Gerrard, vice president of marketing & strategic planning, Voxware.


oxware exhibited at SCOPE West, a major US trade event held in Las Vegas last month, and one insight

from the expo stands out: of 40 attending industry executives surveyed, more than half have plans to add, expand, and/or relocate a distribution centre or warehouse in the next 2-3 years. The simple takeaway is that warehouses and distribution centres are in a constant state of change; and just as business conditions change and warehouses evolve, so too must the technology that supports these operations.

Flexibility and freedom of choice

Indeed, the Voice technology industry has undergone a profound change in recent years. With proprietary architectures and bespoke solutions, control is firmly in the hands of the vendor, not the customer – whose range of choice has become limited. While the idea of getting a solution highly tailored to one’s operation is attractive, many enterprises are starting to question

whether it is worth living with vendor lock-in. The drive towards open, standards-based tech - nologies is fueled by customers’ desire for flexibility and freedom of choice. This gets at the second major driver of change Voice technology: cost. Whenever a high technology makes the leap to open, standards-based offerings, costs come down and mass adoption begins.

Over the past several years we have seen numerous hardware manufacturers field Voice-capable devices that are based on open standards – and today there are very large and very successful Voice picking deployments which utilise these devices. Beyond that, there is a growing demand for Voice picking solutions that are engineered for change and offer greater operational flexibility. The key here is in the software architecture, which must be designed with adaptability in mind. Warehouses are dynamic business operations, and best-in- class managers are constantly refining work processes to wring more cost out whilst boosting performance. Yet how often do logistics executives get ‘sticker shock’ when they see the cost of a seemingly simple change to a system? Front-line technologies such as Voice picking need to be productised in such a way that they become a lever of agility instead of an anchor that inhibits evolution of the operation. That requires software which is architected for change.

Steve Gerrard: “As a new generation of sophisticated buyers looks beyond short- term gains in efficiency to long-term ROI, new evaluation criteria for Voice have emerged.”

New generation

As a new generation of sophistica- ted buyers looks beyond short- term gains in efficiency to long-term ROI, new evaluation criteria for Voice have emerged. While all Voice solutions focus on delivering the same operational benefits, companies are now looking beyond initial ROI to longer-term ownership issues. Key considerations regarding flexibility and control are taking centre stage and the varying ability to meet these growing demands is differentiating Voice providers whose deliverables were once nearly indistinguishable from one another.

For one thing, the IT group has become increasingly involved in the selection of high tech systems that operate within the warehouse. In today’s interconnected world, no system stands alone and the IT group is usually the organisation that has to orchestrate them all to achieve both operational and cost objectives. In the past, Voice vendors would opine that the benefits of Voice picking were so great that it was worth it for companies to overlook their proprietary, closed nature. But Voice technology is no longer in its pioneering phase, and today’s buyers have expanded the evaluation criteria to include a new emphasis on control, cost, and change. 

October 2010


IT 27

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