In the CTI industry, computer "tech-speak" collides head-on with the jargon of telephony to create a confusing cacophony of acronyms and terms. Here are some of the more popular ones that you'll probably run across:

ANI (Automatic Number Identification)--A service provided by the public phone system that identifies the calling party's phone number. This number can be used in a CTI solution as a database key to retrieve information about callers, such as their account balances and sales histories.

ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition)--The translation of discrete human speech (spoken letters, numbers, or words) into non-audio computer format. The translated information can be stored or used to control event-driven telephony services, such as IVR and IFR.

Audiotex--Prerecorded information that's sent to the caller based on touch-tone or ASR input.

CBF (Computer-Based Fax)--The integration of fax transmission and reception into a computer--and computer network--environment.

CO/AIN (Central Office/Advanced Intelligent Network)--Central Office is the local public phone exchange system. Advanced Intelligent Networks can refer to either public or private phone networks.

CTI (Computer Telephony Integration)--The integration of telephony services (e.g., services supporting voice, video, data, or paging applications) into a computer--and computer network--environment.

DID (Direct Inward Dialing)--Enabling a range of phone numbers to be supported over one or more physical phone lines. For example, CO/AIN can transfer any call placed to 555-0100 through 555-0199 to the DID interface adapter in a telephony server. The CTI software will interpret the called number and route it directly to the appropriate extension. In other words, DID gives you direct dialing to every extension on a local phone system without requiring a dedicated line for each one.

DSP (Digital Signal Processor)--A specialized microprocessor that can interpret and handle digital signals, such as those used by phone systems, in real-time.

DTI (Digital Telephony Interface)--The type of interface used to connect telephony-interface adapters to digital phone lines, such as T1 lines.

FOD (Fax On Demand)--A CTI service that allows callers to request documents be faxed to them based on touch-tone or ASR input. (Also, see IFR.)

IFR (Interactive Fax Response)--A CTI service that allows callers to receive information generated as the result of one or more touch-tone or ASR transactions. IFR is similar to FOD. However, under IFR the information faxed back is customized based on the transaction. FOD faxes only "canned" documents.

IVR (Interactive Voice Response)--A CTI service that allows callers to receive information via audiotex or TTS, based on touch-tone or ASR input. IVR can be used for both inquiry and update-oriented transactions.

Loop start--A conventional analog phone line consisting of two wires. Most of us have a loop-start line running into our homes.

PBX (Private Branch eXchange)--A private internal phone system that services a number of extensions. A PBX is invariably connected to an external public telephone system.

TTS (Text To Speech)--The conversion of non-audio computer information into speech. TTS allows a CTI solution to "speak" or repeat (for confirmation purposes) information that was entered using ASR.