Expert Insight

By Scott J. Yetter

Voxware, Inc.

Date: October 21, 2010

Supply Chain Comment: What Is A Portable Voice Picking Solution And Why Does It Matter?

Three Elements You Need To Look For -- Portability Across Devices, Operating Systems, And Database Software

We introduced the issue of portability relative to voice solutions in a previous Expert Insight column, and promised a deeper look.


Portability is one of those IT-oriented topics that at first glance doesn’t seem to be that important compared to the basics of voice-enabling the warehouse workforce.  But portability drives to the issue of long-term flexibility and cost.  When the voice software is not portable, then future choices are limited – and whenever choices are limited, costs are difficult to contain. 


Smart executives make decisions today that don’t foreclose on their options for tomorrow. Above all, they seek ways to avoid vendor lock-in, knowing that having choices in key areas will give the enterprise motivated suppliers.


What Makes A Voice Solution Portable?

What makes a voice solution portable?  There are a number of dimensions to portability – and this is one key requirement of the voice software that, fortunately, is fairly easy to verify.


You need to look for portability across devices, operating systems, and database software.  These three elements are used in virtually every voice solution, but often the voice software has been coded specifically for a single combination of them – making it non-portable and limiting the enterprise’s future options.


For instance, if the voice software only operates on one device or family of devices, then the organization cannot leverage its buying power by considering alternatives – because the cost of moving the voice solution to a different platform is usually prohibitive.


Here is the acid test for judging whether a voice solution is portable:  can it be moved to a different certified device, operating system, and database management system – without changing any code or underlying software components?  If not, then the voice solution is not portable – which means that any decision to move to a new device, OS, or database in the future will undoubtedly entail additional (and often substantial) cost.


Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to verify vendor claims.  On occasion, different voice recognizers are used to support different devices, or the vendor actually has completely different software for various operating scenarios – although the outward product name is the same. 


Enterprises need voice picking solutions that are portable across devices – with no reprogramming required – because it gives them wider choice, cost control, and uninterrupted service from the voice solution when a refresh happens.


They also need portability across operating systems and database software because these critical infrastructure components are always evolving.  On rare occasions an organization might switch, say, from Windows Server to AIX, but more often they need to upgrade to a newer version of their OS of choice – because, for example, Microsoft is dropping support for the version of Windows Server that the voice system uses.  A portable and productized voice solution makes both scenarios possible – and grants maximum flexibility to the enterprise.

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered the issue of portability in this column – next time we’ll take a deeper look at why companies are now demanding that voice software be productized.  One benefit (keeping up with changes to OS software) is mentioned above – but there are many more parts to the equation – which we will cover next month.


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:

When the voice software

is not portable, then future choices are limited - and whenever choices are limited, costs are difficult to contain.

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