Glossary of Terms

Whether you're new to the field, unfamiliar with the latest buzzwords, or just struggling with AOS (Acronym Overload Syndrome), we'll get you up to speed.

Term Definition

A-law A flavor of G.711 compression, commonly used worldwide except in North America and Japan.
AI enablement A strategic business initiative that aims to adopt AI technologies (such as Machine Learning or Generative AI) to improve your business processes and outcomes.
ANI (Automatic Number Identification) The phone number of the calling party in a telephone call. Functionally equivalent today to CLI (though historically, ANI has a different origin than CLI).
Analytics, or speech analytics, or voice analytics The process of analyzing voice recordings or live calls for information such as intent and precise meaning ("speech-to-text") or emotion and mood ("sentiment analysis").
Archive A system that stores data for the purpose of long-term retention and records preservation, rather than for continuous access, updating, or deletion.
Bitrate The rate of digital bits transmitted over a communication channel. For voice traffic, often quoted in kilobits per second (kbps).
Bulk Retrieval / Bulk Restoration Bulk retrieval (or restoration) is the process of wholesale extraction of data from an archive or storage medium (e.g. magnetic tape). Many archiving platforms (including voice loggers) are designed to only allow retrieval of recordings a few (or even just one) at a time. However, there are frequent occasions where it is necessary to retrieve large numbers of recordings in bulk, e.g. in legal discovery ("please produce all recorded voice traffic for a specific stock trader during 2014-2016") or when upgrading to a new system.
Call Center, or Contact Center Traditionally a room filled with agents answering telephones on behalf of a company or agency. Modern contact centers are often distributed into multiple locations or are entirely staffed by agents working from home. Many contact centers record telephone traffic due to compliance regulations (i.e., they are required to record by law) or for quality assurance purposes in order to gauge the effectiveness of the agents.
CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) Also referred to as "Call Center as a Service." A SaaS-based application that enables customer service departments to manage multi-channel customer interactions holistically from both a customer-experience and employee- experience perspective.
Centera An enterprise storage platform originally sold by EMC (now part of Dell). Many voice logger manufacturers (including NICE and Verint) support archive file storage in Centera. Migrating a system out of Centera can be a challenge because Centera does not natively support common network file server protocols like CIFS or NFS. Centera was discontinued in 2018.
Chat or IM (Instant Messaging) In the context of Call Centers and multichannel customer experience, this is the live texting interactions between a customer and a service agent. This could take place on a website or delivered in-app.
Chatbot An automated chat response system used within a customer service context and employed to resolve routine customer queries. These have traditionally been keyword and rules-based engines, but are increasingly integrating AI to better discern customer intent.
CLI (Calling Line Identification) A service which transmits the caller's telephone number (and sometimes name) to the receiving party. Also called ”Caller ID” in North America. In other contexts, CLI also stands for "command line interface."
Cloud An array of network-based computing services and systems meant to replace traditional on-premise data centers. For example, computer servers can be hosted on network-connected cloud-hosted virtual machines instead of on local physical hardware from Dell or HP. Leading cloud providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
Cloud storage A cloud-based alternative to local mass storage devices like NAS and SAN servers. Major commercial products include AWS S3 and Azure Blob Storage. Most offerings include geographical redundancy and unlimited data size.
Codec Literally “coder-decoder.” A standardized mathematical algorithm used to compress audio in order to reduce transmission bandwidth or storage space. Codecs can be open standards (e.g. G.711, G.723.1, G.726, G.729, GSM 06.10, MP3) or proprietary (e.g. NICE ACA, Verint SBC32).
Compliance The process of adhering to a set or sets of requirements, be they regulatory (e.g., HIPAA, EU GDPR), contractual (mandated by partners), or internal (implemented within an organization as a desired operational practice). In a data context, these requirements cover collection, storage, availability, integrity, access, and usage of information.
Compression Compression refers to a number of algorithmic techniques often used on audio, video, or photos to reduce transmission bandwidth or storage space. Compression algorithms can be lossless (e.g. ZIP, GZ, PNG) or lossy (e.g. JPG, MP3, H.264).
Crufty Old, dusty, obsolete hardware or software. As defined in the jargon file: Poorly built, possibly over-complex. The canonical example is “This is standard old crufty DEC software”. In fact, one fanciful theory of the origin of crufty holds that was originally a mutation of ‘crusty’ applied to DEC software so old that the ‘s’ characters were tall and skinny, looking more like ‘f’ characters. Old voice loggers might be considered as crufty, especially if they record to magnetic tape.
CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) Technology which allows communication between telephone switches and computers. Commonly used to store per-call metadata (ANI, DNIS, caller name) into a database.
Deformat The operation of removing compression or proprietary formatting from a computer file or archive format so that it may be replayed without requiring special software or hardware. Examples of media that need deformatting for playback include WAV files with unusual compressions (e.g. G.729), NICE NMF files, Oaisys PVD files, Dictaphone Guardian tapes, and Racal Mirra DVD-RAMs.
DNIS (Dialed Number Identification Service) A feature of the telephone network which allows the recipient of a call the to know the digits originally dialed by the caller for an incoming phone call.
DTMF (Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency) Colloquially known in North America as "touch-tone." A standard for telephone dial keypads where each pressed button generates a pair of sine waves of specific frequencies. The receiving system can then detect the frequencies in order determine which number was pressed.
Encryption The operation of scrambling data with a "key" (typically a long random number) so that it cannot be read by outside parties. Decryption is performed with a companion key. In symmetric encryption, the same key is used to decrypt as to encrypt. Many modern voice loggers use encryption to protect their archive files. When using encryption, safe storage of the key (or keys) is critical to the security of any encrypted system.
ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) The field of software or IT related to converting files from one format to another. ETL is often necessary when migrating data from an old to a new system. The operations include Extraction of the data from its original container format, Transformation of the data to the desired new format, and Loading the transformed data into a new system.
G.711, G.722, G.723.1, G.726, G.729 Compression algorithms commonly used in voice recorders. The "G" prefix indicates the G Series of algorithms which are managed by the ITU in Switzerland.
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Automated voice-recognition technology commonly in place at contact centers to enable automated routing of calls the the appropriate staff within the company.
Knowledge Management or KM The endeavor of organizing, creating, using, and sharing collective knowledge within an organization. Successful knowledge management includes understanding the relation between an element of data and an area of knowledge, and applying data classification, data organization and storage processes in way that makes thes data readily accessible in the context of applying that knowledge.
Metadata Information that describes a given object (perhaps a book or audio file), but not the object itself. Examples for voice recordings include start/stop timestamps, dialed numbers, call direction, DNIS, etc.
Mu-law or µ-law A flavor of G.711 compression commonly used in North America and Japan.
Multiplexing Voice multiplexing refers to transmission or storage of multiple telephone channels onto a single channel or disk file. Examples include T1 trunks (24 voice channels multiplexed onto two copper pairs) or CDMA (used to support multiple cellular calls on the same frequency).
Normalization The process of cleansing a set of data to remove inconsistencies, errors, and anomalies in order to present the data in a consistent fashion to be ready for facilitating subsequent analysis.
PBX (Private Branch eXchange) Traditionally on-premise specialized telephone switch hardware with extensions on each employee desk and trunks to the PSTN. Now largely replaced by VoIP desk phones and software (on-premise or cloud).
POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) Traditional analog telephone service carried on a single pair of copper wires.
PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) The worldwide network of telephone numbers which can be dialed from any phone (as opposed to a private telephone network of extensions within a company)
Public Safety Organizations focused on the safety of the general public, including police departments, fire departments, ambulances services, etc. Many public safety organizations record all telephone and two-way radio traffic, e.g. 9-1-1 emergency calls or air traffic control towers.
Recorder, or Call Recorder, or Voice Recorder Any device which records voice audio. Call recorders range from small handheld devices with a microphone to enterprise recording platforms which can record thousands of calls simultaneously.
Removable media Digital archive media which may be removed and stored offsite for disaster recovery. Traditionally includes magnetic tape and optical disks. The most common formats used for voice loggers include DDS 4mm tapes, AIT 8mm tapes, and DVD-RAMs.
Retention Data retention encompasses the policies and practices concerning what data should be stored or archived, how and where it should be stored, and for how long. Once the retention period expires, the data can be deleted or retained (often moving to secondary, less readily-accessible, storage) depending on the requirements around that data.
Search & Replay Repository A software system which enables playback of voice recordings stored in an archive. Modern systems use a Web browser for user access and allow multiple search criteria including recording date, call duration, agent name, ANI, and DNIS. Calls may be replayed directly through computer speakers or downloaded for later playback.
Speech to text The conversion of voice audio to text. Can be performed in real time or as an operation on a recorded file. Many commercial and open source packages exist for converting speech to text, with a corresponding broad range of quality. Major product differentiators include foreign language support and conversion quality in the presence of background noise.
TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) A transmission technique whereby multiple digital voice channels are transmitted serially and interleaved by time. A popular method of telephone trunking before the invention of VoIP. Examples include T1 and ISDN.
Toll quality voice The format and quality of digital voice traffic traditionally transmitted over long distance telephone trunks. Defined as bandlimited audio (maximum 3400 Hz) with 14 bits of dynamic range. Considered the best quality voice grade for most telephone systems. Synonomous with G.711 compression.
Trading Turret A trading turret is a multichannel communication workstation used by each trader on a trading floor. A typical trading turret includes two telephone handsets (left & right) and as many as eight open microphones (hoot 'n' holler boxes). Thus, to record a trading turret, 10 or more voice recording channels might be used. Though frequently, the open mics are all multiplexed onto a single channel (resulting in three recorded streams per trader).
Trader Voice Industry term referring to any voice technology used enable communication and recording of traders on a trading floor (stocks, bonds, energy).
Transcode The algorithmic operation of converting compressed audio from one codec to another. Often necessary because voice logger manufacturers use high-compression codecs (e.g. G.729, G.723.1) in order to reduce storage space, yet these codecs are not available by default on modern computers. Hence, transcoding the audio to a more common codec (e.g. G.711, GSM 06.10) is necessary to enable universal playback without requiring special software.
Trunk A telephone circuit used for long distance or to connect PBX switches to the public telephone network.
Voice Logger Traditionally a piece of hardware used to record telephone calls to disk storage, DVD-RAM, or magnetic tape. Also commonly called a "voice recorder" (though not to be confused with a handheld recorder typically used by a news reporter). Most modern voice loggers are now hosted on virtual machines or in the cloud, and they now archive to disk files instead of tapes.
VoIP (Voice over IP) Voice over IP. A method for transmitting voice traffic over packet-switched networks. VoIP packets traverse the Internet via several protocols including SIP and RTP. VoIP is used by most modern land-based telephone systems today.
WFO (Workforce Optimization) / WFM (Workforce Management) WFO is a set of practices for business process improvement. It is often aided by a range of technologies that monitor, measure, and streamline the elements of those processes for which organizations seek to improve customer outcomes. The goals of WFO are greater efficiency and productivity, decreased operational costs, improved service quality in terms of customer or worker retention and satisfaction, and ultimately to drive organizational success.