Lab 1: Create call recordings

In this lab we will create sample call recordings that we will process in the subsequent labs of this workshops. We need to store our call recordings somewhere in order to make them available for processing. And after each processing step we need to store the processing results again somewhere to have them available for the subsequent step. When it comes to universal storage in AWS, the answer usually is Amazon S3.

Where to store the call recordings

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. This means customers of all sizes and industries can use it to store and protect any amount of data for a range of use cases, such as websites, mobile applications, backup and restore, archive, enterprise applications, IoT devices, and big data analytics. Amazon S3 provides easy-to-use management features so you can organize your data and configure finely-tuned access controls to meet your specific business, organizational, and compliance requirements. Amazon S3 is designed for 99.999999999% (11 9’s) of durability, and stores data for millions of applications for companies all around the world.

You can store arbitrary data blobs as so-called objects in Amazon S3. Objects are organized in so-called buckets. Amazon S3 also acts as the basis of data lake architectures with the important advantage of separating data storage from data processing.

As we said before, for this workshop, we assume Octank is setting up their central data platform around a data lake in one AWS region that we refer to as the data platform region, while the contact center infrastructure is set up in a different AWS region that we refer to as the contact center region. That’s why we will also look into automatic data replication with Amazon S3 in the next lab as a simple way to implement data ingestion into the data platform.

How to create our sample call recordings

Depending on the circumstances, we will make use of one of these services to create call recordings: Amazon Connect and Amazon Polly.

Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Connect is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. The self-service graphical interface in Amazon Connect makes it easy for non-technical users to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics – no specialized skills required. There are no up-front payments or long-term commitments and no infrastructure to manage with Amazon Connect; customers pay by the minute for Amazon Connect usage plus any associated telephony services.

Amazon Polly is a service that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing you to create applications that talk, and build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products. Amazon Polly is a Text-to-Speech service that uses advanced deep learning technologies to synthesize speech that sounds like a human voice. With dozens of lifelike voices across a variety of languages, you can select the ideal voice and build speech-enabled applications that work in many different countries.

We will use this lab to become familiar with either of the above services and use them to produce sample call recordings. Taking into account the use case that is subject of this workshop, it makes most sense (and it is most fun) to make use of Amazon Connect. With Amazon Connect you can have one team member play a contact center agent and one team member play a customer calling in. You can enable to record the entire conversation in one audio file. However, depending on the country in which you run this workshop, it might not be possible to claim a domestic phone number for your virtual contact center. That means, it can lead to significant costs when you use your mobile phones to run fictive contact center calls. The Amazon Connect Pricing page provides you with an overview of the countries for which you can currently claim phone numbers.

You may be able to use calling apps, e.g. Skype, on your mobile phone that can initiate phone calls over mobile data or WIFI to your Amazon Connect instance. The costs may be less than doing it as a regular phone call. If you want to check for the costs, please assume that you would call a US phone number - if you are in a country for which Amazon Connect doesn’t support domestic phone numbers yet, we would set it up with claiming a US phone number.

In case you cannot use domestic phone numbers and calling apps are not an alternative, we can employ Amazon Polly to create sample call recordings. The difference in this case is that we would have only one party, either agent or customer, in a resulting audio file. Amazon Polly works in a way that it synthesizes a given text using one voice.

Chose Lab 1a: Amazon Connect or Lab 1b: Amazon Polly now, taking into account what is explained above. You can also try both options if the workshop schedule allows for it. Whatever option you use, at the end of this lab you will have some sample voice audio files that you can use as a basis for subsequent processing steps. You can create additional call recordings at any time later, if you like and need more raw data.