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News Article | December 14, 2016
Site: www.businesswire.com

FOSTER CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Conversica, the leader in artificial intelligence (AI) powered business conversations and the only provider of AI-based lead engagement software for sales and marketing, today announced that it has secured $34 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. The round was led by Providence Strategic Growth Capital Partners L.L.C. (PSG), an affiliate of Providence Equity Partners L.L.C., with participation from Toba Capital, Wellington Financial LP and Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd., as well as additional funding from existing investor Kennet Partners and founder Ben Brigham. Conversica’s board of directors has been expanded to include PSG Managing Director Gopi Vaddi and Toba Capital Partner Wilder Ramsey. “The Conversica team has developed a unique and powerful way to solve a ubiquitous business problem, enabling sales and marketing organizations to automatically engage, qualify and follow up with their leads to more effectively turn them into customers,” said Alex Terry, CEO of Conversica. “Sales and marketing professionals at over 1,000 organizations have already achieved tremendous productivity enhancements by deploying our service. We are confident that our unique AI technology will be deployed across a broad spectrum of customer engagement functions to automate and improve many important business conversations.” Conversica will use the new funding to expand marketing and sales efforts, support ongoing product development and finance the continued growth of the company. The company has already achieved significant commercial success with its flagship AI Sales Assistant, including: Conversica’s customers, including Fortune 500 companies such as IBM and Epson, high-growth companies such as Talend and Cake (a Sysco company) and modern small businesses such as SelectQuote and Coolfront, leverage the Conversica AI service to engage and qualify their sales prospects using natural, two-way human conversations, enabling their sales teams to spend significantly more time closing business. Due to the increased flow of qualified sales prospects sourced by the AI assistant, many of Conversica’s customers have reported the need to hire additional salespeople to keep up with the demand. “Conversica’s AI technology has helped IBM be smarter about engaging our prospective customers and maximizing their value as they move through our sales funnel,” commented Kevin Pollack, head of IBM’s Global Email Marketing Practice. “Not only have we freed up resources within the marketing team and gained immediate value in the form of qualified sales opportunities, we are also seeing how AI can help transform our entire business moving forward.” In addition to its flagship Sales Assistant, Conversica has used its conversational AI platform to develop AI-powered assistants that automate important business conversations, including customer lifecycle management in the automotive industry, customer success management in the software industry and loan processing in the financial services industry. “Conversica's powerful language processing, analytical and machine learning capabilities and product vision are expected to continue to drive the company into conversational areas that have yet to be touched by AI,” said Gopi Vaddi of PSG. “The company has gained remarkable traction with customers, demonstrated by its large and multi-vertical customer base, substantial recurring revenue and number of AI interactions. Clearly customers are not only seeing results deploying Conversica’s solutions but are allocating real capital to take advantage of its benefits. We are excited to be a part of Conversica’s next phase of growth.” “Applying data science techniques to machine-human interactions is an area where we are seeing incredible growth and innovation, and we’ve spent considerable time looking for the right company in which to invest,” said Toba Capital founder Vinny Smith. “Conversica has a proven track record of success and client satisfaction in addition to a real vision for the broader application of this technology. Their desire to continue to push the envelope and innovate is what sets them apart and why we are thrilled to be able to partner with Alex and his team.” “The use of Intelligent Assistants for sales, marketing and customer support is exploding, and Conversica is a leader in these early days of Conversational Commerce,” commented Dan Miller, Lead Analyst and Founder at Opus Research. “Based on its powerful AI technology and rich data set of millions of interactions on behalf of its clients, the company is well positioned to capture a big share of this exploding market.” Conversica is the leader in AI-powered business conversations and the only provider of AI-driven lead engagement software for marketing and sales organizations. The flagship Conversica® AI Sales Assistant helps companies find and secure customers more quickly and efficiently by automatically contacting, engaging, qualifying and following up with leads via natural, two-way email conversations. Conversica is used by more than 16,000 salespeople worldwide to optimize sales team productivity. Recognized by Gartner as a Cool Vendor in 2016, Conversica is a portfolio company of Providence Strategic Growth, Kennet Partners and Toba Capital and is headquartered in Foster City, Calif. To learn more, visit conversica.com and follow the company on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Providence Strategic Growth Capital Partners L.L.C. (“PSG”) is an affiliate of Providence Equity Partners L.L.C (“Providence”). Established in 2014, PSG focuses on growth equity investments in lower middle market software and technology-enabled service companies, primarily in North America. Providence is a premier, global asset management firm with $50 billion in capital under management across complementary private equity and credit businesses. Providence pioneered a sector-focused approach to private equity investing with the vision that a dedicated team of industry experts could build exceptional companies of enduring value. Since the firm’s inception in 1989, Providence has invested in more than 150 companies and is the leading equity investment firm focused on the media, communications, education and information industries. Providence is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and has offices in New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Delhi. For more information on PSG, visit provequity.com/private-equity/psg and for more information on Providence Equity, please visit provequity.com. Toba Capital is a venture firm focused on enterprise software and infrastructure. Toba backs entrepreneurs building transformative businesses, both as an investor and as an ongoing operational partner. The firm was founded by Vinny Smith, an early investor and former CEO of Quest Software. For more information on Toba Capital, visit TobaCapital.com.

BURLINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) today announced that it has received the highest combined rating amongst Intelligent Assistant and bot vendors in the newly-published report by Opus Research, “Decision Makers’ Guide to Enterprise Intelligent Assistants.”* Nuance outscored all other Intelligent Assistant (IA) and bot vendors that were evaluated and ranked highest for its intelligent virtual assistant, underscoring Nuance’s leadership in the industry. Nuance brings a unique omni-channel customer engagement platform to the table that combines the best in self- and assisted-service, enabling a seamless collaboration between human agents and artificially-intelligent virtual assistants to drive better customer service outcomes. In the February 2017 report, Opus Research addresses the importance and value of a virtual assistant/bot strategy for enterprises, stating “successful IA implementations reduce operating costs while improving customer experience and customer satisfaction scores by automating the handling of routine queries and optimizing person-to-person for both agent and customer when interactions require a human touch.” Drawing attention to the rapid IA adoption, “Opus foresees explosive growth of the industry poised to blast through $1 billion in 2016, on the way to $4.5 billion globally by 2021.” The report presents a comprehensive assessment of the current IA and bot solution provider landscape with special focus on vendors offering “enterprise-grade” solutions. Included within is a solution provider comparison chart to help decision-makers evaluate how current enterprise solutions fulfill the requirements of IA. Using a rating system based on Gold, Silver, and Bronze, Opus Research assesses each vendor’s product offerings across seven different criteria, including: Automated Learning, Process Automation, Human Involvement, Analytics & Reporting, Multi-Channel, Track Record, and Affordability/Speed to Deploy. Nuance is awarded a Gold standing in six out of seven categories, the highest combined rating amongst all of the vendors that were evaluated. “The report provides tools and a framework for decision makers to compare the leading solutions providers according to criteria that have direct impact on customer experience and operational efficiencies,” explained Dan Miller, Lead Analyst at Opus Research. “This is especially important as Enterprise Intelligent Assistants grow into their role as focal point in omni-channel self-service.” “It is a great honor to be recognized as the highest ranked provider of virtual assistants by Opus Research,” said Robert Weideman, general manager and executive vice president, Enterprise Division, Nuance. “Nina was introduced by Nuance more than four years ago as one of the first virtual assistants for customer service based on our ongoing work in artificial intelligence and since that time we have innovated alongside the world’s leading brands to deliver the intelligent, personalized, and engaging service that consumers expect.” Nina leverages Nuance’s unparalleled technology leadership and expertise in voice, NLU, conversational dialogue and advanced resolution techniques to deliver a compelling, omni-channel, self- and assisted- customer service experience for the consumer and the enterprise. Nuance Nina has been adopted globally by large organizations such as Australian Taxation Office, Coca-Cola, Domino’s, Garanti Bank, ING Netherlands, IP Australia, Jetstar, Swedbank, Tangerine Bank, USAA, and Windstream. To view a sample or purchase a copy of the report, click here. For more information about Nuance’s Nina, please click here. *Opus Research “Decision Makers’ Guide to Enterprise Intelligent Assistants” by Dan Miller, Derek Top, and Amy Stapleton, February 2017. About Nuance Communications, Inc. Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications. For more information, please visit www.nuance.com. Trademark reference: Nuance and the Nuance logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Nuance Communications, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners.

BURLINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) today announced Nina ID 2.0, which adds integrated multi-factor authentication to the Nina Virtual Assistant for customer service. Introduced in 2012, Nina ID was the first virtual assistant for mobile customer service with integrated voice biometrics, and quickly expanded to support virtual assistant-powered customer service on web sites, within messaging apps and even via SMS. Global brands around the world have implemented virtual assistants powered by the Nina platform, including Dom from Domino’s, INGE from ING NL, Jess from JetStar, and the new Web virtual assistant for USAA. To see how ING NL uses Nuance’s Nina ID, go here. Today, with the introduction of Nina ID 2.0, enterprises can add an unmatched level of security to their mobile apps, allowing their customers to be automatically authenticated by saying a simple voice passphrase or taking a selfie. Nina uses AI-powered voice biometrics and face recognition to confirm the identity of the user by the sound of their voice and/or their face. This not only delivers a significant security benefit, it also creates a smoother authentication process, and allows the app to personalize the user experience. With the introduction of Nina ID 2.0, Nina becomes the first virtual assistant to recognize consumers by the sound of their voice, or by “selfie,” and which combats fraud by leveraging behavioral biometrics. By integrating biometric security with a virtual assistant, Nina ID creates a more intelligent, more human-like experience for consumers who are transacting on the go, while at the same time fighting the increase in fraud that today permeates not only online channels, but phone, mobile, SMS and more. “Consumers today need to be able to reach out and engage with brands quickly and easily – wherever they are – and that’s often from a mobile device,” said Robert Weideman, general manager and executive vice president, Nuance Enterprise Division. “Nina ID brings to the virtual assistant world the same proven Nuance biometrics technologies used by millions of consumers via leading organizations such as Barclays, ING Netherlands, Tangerine Bank, Tatra Banka, Turkcell, Santander Mexico and Vodacom South Africa." “Intelligent authentication goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of virtual agents and intelligent assistants,” explained Dan Miller, Lead Analyst at Opus Research. “With Nina ID, Nuance defined a simple way to establish secure, trusted and personalized links between customers and the brands with which they carry out business.” For more information about Nina ID, please visit here. About Nuance Communications, Inc. Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications. For more information, please visit www.nuance.com. Trademark reference: Nuance and the Nuance logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Nuance Communications, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners.

YOKNEAM ILLIT, Israel--(BUSINESS WIRE)--VocalZoom, a leading supplier of Human-to-Machine Communication (HMC) optical sensors that enable a more natural, personalized and secure voice-control experience, today announced voice biometrics technology using its optical sensor that performs all voiceprint acquisition and embedded template matching, eliminates the microphones and noise reduction software of traditional acoustic solutions, and takes voiceprint verification out of an external processor or cloud-based server to the security of an embedded, match-in-sensor architecture. “We all want the simplicity of authenticating to applications and services with our voice, but until now, solutions have been complex and expensive, are not reliable in noisy environments, and are vulnerable to cloned voiceprints,” said Tal Bakish, chief executive officer, VocalZoom. “VocalZoom plans to deliver the industry’s first speaker verification sensor using a match-in-sensor architecture, which will drive a paradigm shift in behavioral authentication.” VocalZoom’s patented VoiceMatch-in-Sensor technology for embedded speaker verification products acquires data from users during the biometric enrollment process as their facial skin vibrates during speech. The VocalZoom optical HMC sensor converts this data into a voiceprint associated only with the person who was actually speaking, and stores it inside the sensor. This enables the sensor to meet FIDO compliance requirements, enabling easy plug-and-play installation as compared to existing fingerprint or other biometric sensors that don’t offer secure embedded biometric acquisition and template matching. Each time users authenticate, a voiceprint is again acquired in real time, again optically confirmed to be from a living person rather than a recording, and then securely matched inside the sensor solution against information in its embedded template to verify the user and complete the authentication process. “Opus Research’s latest voice biometrics census, issued in September 2016, shows a doubling of voiceprint enrollments (more than 137 million globally), signaling voice as a ubiquitous, highly personalized authentication factor, with the capability to combine command and control with identification and access management,” said Dan Miller, lead analyst at Opus Research. “Device-based implementations are accelerating and technologies like VocalZoom’s match-in-sensor voiceprint verification technology will fuel this growth by improving security and fraud protection for products that are easier to build and use.” The match-in-sensor architecture for embedded speaker verification has been proven with fingerprint biometrics, but was previously unfeasible for voice biometrics because of the cost, complexity and vulnerabilities associated with acquiring voiceprints using traditional acoustic technology. VocalZoom’s optical VoiceMatch-in-Sensor approach to voiceprint acquisition delivers a streamlined, compact solution with inherent liveness detection that can be included in products ranging from smartphones and PCs to ATMs and the connected car. The sensor also offers the ability to optically acquire other biometric information to be used as additional authentication factors, including the speaker’s unique heartbeat and facial characteristics. VocalZoom supplies Human-to-Machine Communication (HMC) sensors for delivering a, natural, personalized and secure voice-controlled user experience in today’s increasingly mobile and interconnected world. The sensors enable accurate and reliable voice control and biometrics authentication in any environment, regardless of noise. Applications including mobile secure payments, headsets and wearables, mobile phones, access control, smart home solutions, and hands-free automotive voice control. For more information, visit www.VocalZoom.com and follow the company on LinkedIn.

Lester T.,Opus Research | Harding A.,Opus Research
Road and Transport Research | Year: 2015

This paper describes a small dataset of the volume and mass of people's grocery shopping by their travel mode. The dataset was collected to explore a possible relationship between quantity of groceries purchased and the availability, or unavailability, of a car to transport the groceries to destination. The study was within an overall program exploring the functions of cars, including their role as a carrier of goods, for understanding practical implications of replacing car trips with trips by other travel modes. Short intercept surveys were conducted at exits from supermarkets and produce markets. Shoppers' purchased grocery loads were weighed and measured and the mode of travel recorded. Only a small dataset was obtained so findings are indicative or interpretive rather than statistical statements on the typical range in volume and mass of groceries that people transport via different travel modes. From the dataset obtained, grocery loads to be transported by car had a wider range of volume and mass, but the median and lower quartile values were similar between car and non-car travel modes. It is suggested that there are some grocery shopping trips the car is well-suited for but the dataset demonstrated a number of grocery shopping trips equally able to be carried with another travel mode replacing a car trip. The small dataset supports deeper study to understand how loads associated with daily activities influence people's travel mode choice or reluctance to change away from car travel modes.

Immediately after an earthquake event, how long people survive in place using their limited resources is relatively unknown, as is the behavioural response to resource scarcity. Computer-aided personal interviews were conducted with 172 householders to examine how many days people believed they were able to shelter in place without official aid in a simulated earthquake event, taking into account not only the water, food and medicine they had stockpiled, but also the availability of less obvious sources (such as water in the hot water cylinder or food from gardens). Based on recommended daily resource allowances, after a 3-day period without aid, 46 % of people had run out of at least one of these necessary resources and this increased to 90 % of people after 7 days. After a 7-day period without official aid, there is an increase in people’s perceived willingness to (1) ask for assistance from neighbours (but a reduction in people’s willingness to offer aid to others), (2) commit less socially acceptable acts (such as breaking into an empty house to take food and water) and (3) commit unsafe acts (such as drinking unpurified water). The results are discussed with regard to particular post-disaster social behaviours and how social norms shift as people adapt to survive. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Mora K.,Opus Research | Chang J.,Opus Christchurch | Beatson A.,Opus Research | Morahan C.,Opus Christchurch
International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction | Year: 2015

Following the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, the subject of building safety has had a high profile in New Zealand, with building seismic standards coming under scrutiny. Greater public interest in commercial building safety, and policy aims of increasing investment in seismic improvements for disaster risk reduction requires better methods of communicating building risk, and the elements that affect structural damage. Two qualitative analyses were conducted; an analysis of Twitter postings in the immediate wake of the February 2011 event, followed by focus group analyses of perceptions almost two years later. Life-preservation was found to be more important than functionality of buildings, and experience was found to affect the features the public look for to identify "safe" buildings. The most important feature was found to be the provision of safe exits from buildings, rather than design features such as height and materials. Recommendations for better communication of the meaning, benefits and limitations of building seismic standards are made. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Herrington P.R.,Opus Research
International Journal of Pavement Engineering | Year: 2015

A small-scale apparatus was constructed to measure the ‘adhesion temperature’, at which bitumen ‘pick-up’ onto tyre rubber (and subsequent tracking) occurs. Loading frequencies equivalent to traffic speeds of over 100 km hr−1 and realistic tyre footprint pressures were used. The adhesion temperature increased with loading frequency, but all of the bitumens and polymer-modified bitumens studied had adhesion temperatures (i.e. the temperature at which the bitumen failed cohesively) at or below 60 °C, a temperature easily reached in the field. The results confirm the findings of an earlier slow-speed study (at 1.6 km hr−1) and indicate that the adhesion temperature under realistic loading conditions is governed by the properties of the bitumen, i.e. the bitumen yield stress is lower than that of the adhesive bond formed as the tyre traverses the bitumen. © 2015 Taylor & Francis

Despite evidence that the correct use of child restraints significantly reduces the risk of fatality for young children in vehicle accidents, a small proportion (about 8%) of parents and caregivers do not use these restraints. Previous research into barriers to the use of child restraints has examined many factors, with economic barriers the most commonly studied, but with mixed results. This research examines restraint use in New Zealand prior to a change to a higher legal age requirement. Knowledge of the existing law was low, but results showed support for the new requirements. As expected, expense was a commonly perceived barrier. However, no relationship between income and use was found. Low-cost alternatives, such as restraint rental services, are discussed. Of particular interest is the role second-hand restraints could play in increasing use through increased ownership. Further research into information provision around restraint types is suggested.

HOBOKEN, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--NICE (Nasdaq:NICE) today announced that organizations can now verify their customers’ identity within seconds regardless of whether they speak with an agent or an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, thanks to the company’s launch of its holistic voice-based authentication solution. NICE’s award winning Real-Time Authentication (RTA) solution has been enhanced to seamlessly create and utilize one voice print for each customer to deliver quick and efficient customer service across all voice channels, with no customer effort required. The NICE solution offers a unique, single platform for passively enrolling customers based on historical recordings. This promotes a higher rate of enrollment and greater customer satisfaction as customers’ issues can be resolved on their channel of choice, whether this be IVR or live agent. This also allows organizations to maximize the contact center’s resources and achieve a quick return on investment as they can begin authenticating customers and contain more calls in self-service channels from day one. With the NICE RTA solution, callers’ issues are resolved within the natural flow of conversation, without having to answer pesky questions, like “What’s the name of your first grade teacher?” Authentication takes no longer than 15 seconds during live agent calls and 3-5 seconds in IVR. Dan Miller, Lead Analyst, Opus Research: “Organizations are realizing the tremendous added value of voice biometrics solutions for authentication and fraud loss reduction. Yet, the main barrier to adoption is the limited enrollment rates in the IVR channel due to the complexity of the enrollment process. With its new offering, NICE addresses this issue, and we expect it to be a key driver for accelerated global growth and wider implementation of large-scale voice authentication systems. As a leader in this market, NICE is well-positioned to steer this important shift.” Miki Migdal, president of the NICE Enterprise Product Group: “NICE’s latest RTA solution offers a breakthrough in authentication technology, which is helping organizations reinvent customer service. NICE is the first to offer a unified voice biometrics system for all voice channels, including passive enrollment for IVR interactions, which ensures that customers can resolve their issues via self-service channels, with zero effort needed. At the same time, the solution continues to address the operational needs of contact centers to reduce call volume and handle times, while delivering a quick return on investment.” About NICE NICE (Nasdaq:NICE) is the worldwide leading provider of both cloud and on-premises enterprise software solutions that empower organizations to make smarter decisions based on advanced analytics of structured and unstructured data. NICE helps organizations of all sizes deliver better customer service, ensure compliance, combat fraud and safeguard citizens. Over 25,000 organizations in more than 150 countries, including over 85 of the Fortune 100 companies, are using NICE solutions. www.nice.com. Trademark Note: NICE and the NICE logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of NICE Ltd. All other marks are trademarks of their respective owners. For a full list of NICE’s marks, please see: www.nice.com/nice-trademarks. Forward-Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements, including the statements by Mr. Migdal, are based on the current beliefs, expectations and assumptions of the management of NICE Ltd. (the Company). In some cases, such forward-looking statements can be identified by terms such as believe, expect, may, will, intend, project, plan, estimate or similar words. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results or performance of the Company to differ materially from those described herein, including but not limited to the impact of the global economic environment on the Company’s customer base (particularly financial services firms) potentially impacting our business and financial condition; competition; changes in technology and market requirements; decline in demand for the Company's products; inability to timely develop and introduce new technologies, products and applications; difficulties or delays in absorbing and integrating acquired operations, products, technologies and personnel; loss of market share; an inability to maintain certain marketing and distribution arrangements; and the effect of newly enacted or modified laws, regulation or standards on the Company and our products. For a more detailed description of the risk factors and uncertainties affecting the company, refer to the Company's reports filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Company’s Annual Report on Form 20-F. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date of this press release, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise them, except as required by law.

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