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Expert Insight

By Scott J. Yetter

Voxware, Inc.

Date: August 4, 2011

Supply Chain Voice: The Returns Can Be Bigger than Ever

Software is the Key to Maximizing Voice ROI

After some time as a new technology option, voice picking has become a mainstream best practice.  Voice systems deliver business value by making companies cost competitive and improving customer service.  Known for well-documented and rapid payback, returns on voice can now get even bigger for companies who know how to maximize ROI.

Recent advances in voice software have brought down costs and simplified startup.  We now have a market where a company can get on base by implementing voice the traditional way, or knock the ball out of the park to get maximum returns. What makes the difference? Smart buyers emphasize a few simple, yet far-reaching voice software essentials. Such companies push the ROI of voice much higher than is otherwise possible. 

What are these essentials? Maximizing ROI from voice picking starts and ends with getting software that is open, configurable, and portable.  Whether in initial deployment, changes to business processes, or hardware refreshes, certain software qualities create cost advantages throughout the lifespan of the voice system.

Starting Faster

Voice technology used to have a reputation for being expensive and complex.  But implementing voice doesn’t have to be painful.  With the right tools, a warehouse can get voice up and running without a dramatic system overhaul.  The key factor is open and configurable software.  Configurable voice solutions are quickly tailored to an operation’s unique needs while avoiding a complex custom-coding exercise. 

Programming is always a slow, costly process – and the resulting solution is often resistant to change.  It is also a blind process — since the voice company is doing the programming, you won’t know what you’re getting until the implementation is complete.  That’s why some vendors urge customers to spend many weeks in “getting the specifications nailed down right.”  Too often a company makes a heavy investment in a voice solution only to find out later that their interpretation of the specifications wasn’t the same as the vendor’s – or that despite endless meetings something important was missed. 

At Voxware, we’re all for doing a good specification job, but we also know that configurable software is forgiving.  By getting a solution into production quickly, organizations have time and money left over to ensure that it is further adapted if necessary. 

Changing Easier

The extra control afforded by configurability comes in handy when change is on the horizon.  Companies that achieve maximum ROI do so with an eye on TCO and long term concerns.  A voice solution needs to be adaptable beyond its initial installment.

The optimal picking process is constantly changing.  From small prompt changes to procedural overhauls, warehouses need to make adjustments without having to wait for a full-blown programming project.  Sometimes a small change is needed to boost efficiency.  New handling requirements may need to be supported. 

Some companies don’t make these changes due to the high cost associated with even small modifications to custom-coded solutions.  Ironically, the voice system – which provided great initial ROI – has now become an impediment to progress because the enterprise simply can’t afford to make changes.  This is what separates those who get good voice ROI from those who get great voice ROI. Demanding configurable software produces a voice solution that is amenable to change, not against it.

Finishing Bigger

Today buyers of voice solutions want hardware-independence because they like the cost benefits that come from freedom of choice. But best-in-class buyers know that vendor claims of hardware independence are not enough. Portable software is the key ingredient to maximizing the hardware element of voice ROI. 

Portability allows companies to choose whatever voice unit best suits them – either now or in the future.  If they wish to change hardware units, portable voice software means their voice solution will continue to work and they can avoid the difficult and expensive task of rewriting the existing code.  In addition, this flexibility enables an enterprise to take advantage of voice-capable hardware’s continuing decline in cost.

Some software “supports” a variety of devices, but is not portable.  While a company can migrate such a solution to a new device, they will spend more money in programming and license costs to do so. 

Final Thoughts

Software is the key to maximizing voice ROI.  We have come a long way from the early days, when voice was treated as a hardware decision – an approach that inevitably costs more.  In the past, voice solutions produced such great returns that it didn’t matter if companies were saddled with higher-than-necessary costs.  Today the returns are bigger than ever, for companies that buy intelligently.

For more information about VoxWare's Portable Voice Picking Solutions, please visit:

Voice Picking Expertise You Can Use.

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About the Author

Scott J. Yetter has served as President of Voxware, Inc. since November 2006.  He is a long-time executive in the supply chain industry, bringing over 20 years experience in sales, marketing, operations and executive management to his position.  Prior to joining Voxware Scott spent 10 years at American Software/Logility, an early provider of ERP and supply chain solutions. 

For More information, please visit:

Voice Picking Expertise You Can Use

Yetter Says:

Voice systems deliver business value by making companies cost competitive and improving customer service.

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