ESPRE Solutions, Inc.
Everybody loves video. It's used for everything from TV and movies to surveillance to capturing home videos of important events. Video conferencing is another video application that has made some inroads in the business arena, especially in conference rooms. However, video conferencing systems installed in conference rooms are not the only application for live video conferencing.
ESPRE Solutions' eViewLink is one of the most interesting and innovative video applications we've come across. Targeting the enterprise, government, ISPs, carriers, service providers and Fortune 1000 companies, eViewLink is designed to enable real-time wireless video collaboration between an expert in the office and personnel in the field.' Essentially, eViewLink integrates a wearable, wireless video camera and tele-presence package to allow real-time video and audio to be sent across any public/private IP network.'It provides a solution for receiving video from a mobile device while maintaining two-way audio communications.
ESPRE Solutions uses its own proprietary codec and its own JAVA player and encoder technology to ensure maximum video compression with super video quality. ESPRE Solutions told us, 'eViewLink is the first technology to hit the marketplace that delivers 'live' TV-quality video from a wireless PDA device. Using a wireless laptop at one end and a wireless PDA at a remote site, a distant expert can visually communicate 'real-time' with personnel in the field. This breakthrough in technology crosses into many industries; i.e., police, fire, emergency medical and first responder applications, to name a few.'
The eViewLink solution enables a whole new genre ' mobile video conferencing. The company's solution enables people to collaborate while benefiting from a mobile, hands-free, first-person perspective using a handheld/PDA device. The eViewLink product is engineered with ESPRE Solutions' unique video compression technology that delivers high-quality video. The company claims that there is no comparable video capture and streaming product engineered into a PDA-style device.
The solution can also record and replay sessions. Also, specific images can be selected and printed or e-mailed for review. Sessions may be recorded locally and then transmitted later over a high-speed Internet connection. As proof of concept, ESPRE Solutions told us that pilot programs are underway in Iraq to rebuild and maintain 40 electric power substations. They told us, 'For security reasons, the engineering experts are reluctant to travel to these substations in order to do routine maintenance and installation, so the engineers manage the project remotely. Using a wireless laptop at one end and a wireless PDA at the remote site, a distant expert can direct the work being done at the remote site.'The expert can visually communicate in real time with the lower-skilled local labor at the substations.' ESPRE Solutions demonstrates their video codec on its Web site using various movie clips and its Java player. TMC Labs was quite impressed with the video quality. Additionally, we found eViewLink to be
a very impressive usage of video technology to enhance employee productivity, and it certainly has a lot of application potential.
Mitel 6100 Contact Center Solutions
Mitel 6100 Contact Center Solutions suite is a comprehensive call center platform that does forecasting, scheduling and reporting, as well as integration with robust communications platforms and automatic call distribution (ACD). It consists of a modular suite of Web-based call center applications. Because the Mitel 6100 Contact Center Solutions suite of products is modular, users have the flexibility to add other capabilities as needed. Also, since they are Web-based, they deploy rapidly with no client software required.
Mitel 6110 Contact Center Management (CCM) provides browser-based capabilities for historical reporting on all agents and queues, viewing the historical events for a particular date, in simulated real time, as well as real-time monitoring of all contact center activities for queues and agents. In addition, it can forecast the number of agents required to meet service-level goals based on historical data and 'what-if' scenarios. It also features the unique ability to send online messages/broadcasts to agents and supervisors.
CCM tightly integrates with the rest of the Mitel 6100 Contact Center Solutions suite, including the Mitel 6115 Interactive Contact Center, which provides supervisors with browser-based tools to dynamically control the availability of individual agents and queues, schedule queues to open or close automatically based on business hours, enable 'do-not-disturb' functionality on specific queues, diverting callers to alternate answering points, and more.
The Mitel 6120 Contact Center Scheduling integrates with CCM's forecasting capabilities to enable supervisors to automatically schedule agents to meet forecasted activity levels on a shift, daily, weekly and monthly basis. It can also efficiently schedule agents by assigning tasks to them based on skill set. It also provides innovative budgeting capabilities that allow users to schedule within budget by viewing reports (generated automatically) on the financial impact of each schedule. Since companies can store each employee's payroll rate, they can view the impact of scheduling more senior, experienced (and thus, more expensive) agents. Call centers can also adjust schedules on the fly based on changing conditions such as sick times or unexpected call volume.
Another part of the suite is the Mitel 6125 Real-Time Schedule Adherence component, which is an add-on application to the 6120 Contact Center Scheduling. This add-on lets companies build adherence parameters and create daily schedules for the contact center by assigning shifts, breaks, lunches and jobs to each agent in the call center with the 6120 Contact Center Scheduling.
One really interesting module is Mitel 6150 Multimedia Contact Center, which integrates with Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office 2000 to provide automated routing of e-mail/Web chats and faxes to the longest idle agent, real-time monitoring of all multimedia agents and queues, historical reporting of all media types, and agent forecasting for all media types
Mitel claims to be one of the first comprehensive contact center solutions to support the Microsoft .NET framework. Using .NET architecture simplifies the applications' integration process and allows developers to create truly distributed, object-based applications in a timely manner.
NetSuite is an extremely comprehensive hosted/on-demand CRM system that not only does customer relationship management but also order management and fulfillment, inventory management, e-commerce and Web site management and employee productivity. It also provides integrated accounting capabilities. NetSuite is delivered as an on-demand service, so there is no hardware needed. NetSuite's patent-pending 'real-time dashboard' technology offers an easy-to-use view into role-specific business information that is always up to date. NetSuite products include NetSuite, NetSuite CRM, NetSuite CRM+ and NetSuite Small Business.
Some of the CRM features include sales force automation, territory tracking and assignment, lead routing, opportunity management, commissions, competitor tracking, quote generation, sales order entry, forecast and quota management, marketing automation and e-mail campaign management. NetSuite claims to be the first business application with built-in, customizable dashboard views based on user roles. The role-specific dashboard includes a new capability that allows information 'portlets' to be dragged and dropped anywhere on the user dashboard. The company also claims to be the only mid-market product with commission management and payment. NetSuite is also unique in that it offers advanced features for product distributors including serialized inventory; pick, pack and ship; matrix items; units of measure; bar coding; and quantity pricing. Also unique to the platform is UPS integration. They told us that NetSuite, Inc. was the first software company to receive the entire UPS shipping API, allowing the
product to handle shipping in a more integrated fashion than other business applications.
NetSuite is a unique ERP/CRM solution in that it has fully integrated e-commerce features, including the ability to generate a database-driven Web site automatically. It can also host Web pages and can draw on inventory data, pricing data and other information held in the application. The product also has integrated complex recurring billing functionality usually found only in higher-end solutions.
While NetSuite can be used as a single solution to run an entire business, it is also an open system that seamlessly integrates with legacy and third-party industry solutions via SOAP standard-based Web services. NetSuite claims to be the only SMB solution that provides robust e-commerce capability, while competing solutions require third-party solutions. NetSuite truly is one of the most innovative and comprehensive solutions within the hosted on-demand contact center solutions market.
Nexidia Enterprise Speech Intelligence 5.0
What if you could search the audio within your call center's recorded calls? Imagine the potential to pinpoint common customer issues within your thousands of hours of recorded customer calls. Nexidia Enterprise Speech Intelligence 5.0 is a solution that allows just that, with its phonetic audio mining and speech analytics software. The Nexidia server ingests audio files to create a proprietary .PAT file (phonetic audio track), thus marking the audio files so they are rendered phonetically searchable. Search terms and complex queries are created and applied against these .PAT files. The results of these searches and queries are then compiled and generated into dashboards, charts, trending and analysis reports. Using Nexidia Replay, companies can play back and further search these audio files, allowing the enterprise to drill into the intelligence contained in the actual voice of the customer.
According to Nexidia, 'Traditional audio mining has been done using speech-to-text methods where the audio is first transcribed to text and then scanned for requested search terms.'Our technology takes the idea of audio/speech mining to a new level by tapping into the actual sounds that are made. In this way, we can search on proper names, jargon and slang without having to train a dictionary first.'
Speech analytics can be cost-prohibitive because of the processing power and the hardware costs required to analyze recorded conversations. Nexidia's phonetic search engine has optimized its algorithms to reduce the necessary hardware, and the company claims its 'index' rates are faster than the other solutions on the market by orders of magnitude. Nexidia's index rate is measured in the order of 50x real-time per CPU (or higher) compared to the 1x to 4x performance offered by other solutions. To put this in terms of hardware costs, an organization recording 2,000 hours per day would need only a single server with the Nexidia solution, whereas competitors would need 10 to 40 of those servers to perform the same tasks.
The phonetic search engine achieves this superb performance by searching on the sounds within human speech (phonemes, of which there are only about 40 in the English language).'By searching on sounds, the system is also entirely independent of any dictionary ' another issue that plagues alternative approaches. Additional unique features of Nexidia Enterprise Speech Intelligence 5.0 are language identification, speaker speech separation and silence detection.
Web-Centric Self Service
Nortel Web-Centric Self Service makes it easy to create self-service applications leveraging industry standards. Companies can create multitiered, Web-based voice processing applications, including natural language applications, using standards-based markup languages like VoiceXML and CCXML. The solution allows the core application logic to reside separately from branding, service and operational elements.'Nortel Web-Centric Self Service leverages standards-based development and management tools, open interfaces to popular Web development tools and open interworking with standard servers and desktop platforms.
One of the most powerful and unique features of the solution is the built-in debugger. Nortel's Web-Centric Voice Application Development Suite (WVADS) allows for a developer to 'see' the voice application as it's running in the interpreter. WVADS provides powerful debugging tools for viewing variables and interacting with the speech recognition results. Nortel WVADS' debugging capabilities are innovative because they allow for full visibility of an application.'The only simulated part of the debugging is the telephony interface, headphones and a microphone, which are used for voice input and output.'Developers have the ability to hear the application and view the code as it's interpreted.'As lines are executed, standard debugging capabilities are available ' view variables, set breakpoint and control flow by stepping through the code.'Now an application can be developed completely and quickly, reducing development time and lowering costs.
Another innovative aspect of the solution is that there is no runtime component required for applications that are developed with WVADS. This lowers the entry-level requirements for applications and provides cost savings because no runtime licenses are needed. Nortel has chosen to use CCXML instead of developing a proprietary language for call control.
Help desks have built comprehensive knowledge bases containing many of the answers to customers' questions, but it still requires the time and labor costs of an agent to search the knowledge base and provide the answers to the customer. RightNow Voice transforms voice into a very powerful self-service channel utilizing speech recognition technology.'Unlike conventional systems that force customers to navigate menus with their keypads and offer only a narrow range of information, RightNow Voice uses a combination of IVR, speech recognition and speech synthesis to allow customers to access all the information in an organization's RightNow knowledge base. Furthermore, RightNow Voice leverages the same information customers would receive on the Web or from a live service representative.'There are currently eight functional modules available within the RightNow Voice suite: knowledge base access, incident management, location finder, order status, repair tracking, refund status, password reset and customer
RightNow Voice is the native voice automation component of a full CRM suite. This results in unified management of the automated voice channels with all other communication channels (i.e., phone, e-mail, Web, chat) and common workflow, data management and integration capabilities across all CRM functions. This allows for use of a common knowledge base and commonality of access to order status and other databases.
Using this speech recognition solution, call centers can provide an effective, easy-to-use, round-the-clock self-service channel to customers, significantly reduce the number of phone calls that live agents must handle personally, and free those agents to handle incidents that truly warrant personal attention.
salesforce.com was one of the early pioneers of the hosted CRM 'software-as-a-service' model. salesforce.com's cost-effective, online CRM solution now includes the first on-demand operating system ' Multiforce ' which allows users to switch on-the-fly between multiple on-demand applications. At the core of the Summer '05 release, Multiforce allows Salesforce subscribers to multitask between multiple on-demand applications all running in the same salesforce.com environment, with a single click.
Companies using Multiforce gain the benefits of having the same data model, security system and user interface for any on-demand application for their enterprise. With Multiforce, on-demand applications built by the organizations themselves or partners using the Sforce and the Customforce can be bound together into a single platform accessible to the entire enterprise.
Customers are now able to access and switch easily between Salesforce, Supportforce and any other on-demand application written for the company's platform. Eliminating the data silos that impede a company's success, Multiforce allows companies to securely manage and share all of their company's vital data throughout the organization. For instance, administrators can determine which users have access to which applications on the Multiforce menu, thereby controlling what information is accessible to individual users. Multiforce also addresses the deployment issues that have traditionally plagued enterprise application efforts.
According to salesforce.com, 'Multiforce provides the first platform for companies to expand the benefits of on-demand computing throughout their enterprises. With Multiforce, organizations gain the ability to easily extend salesforce.com's family of products from sales, marketing and support groups to entirely new teams in HR or product development. Additionally, salesforce.com is partnering with leading independent software vendors and enabling these third-party solutions to be easily integrated with the salesforce.com service so that organizations can manage all their on-demand applications in a single environment.'
Multiforce extends salesforce.com's solutions to beyond just the customer service department to the engineering, accounting, human resources and project teams, allowing companies to share relevant information across the organization to improve business processes.
WorkSpace CRM (formerly Wireless SFA) for salesforce.com
WorkSpace CRM 3.0 extends salesforce.com CRM to wireless handheld devices such as RIM's BlackBerry, palmOne's Treo or Mobile Windows 2003 devices in a secure, easy-to-use, reliable handheld solution. WorkSpace CRM is highly customizable, can be deployed over-the-air and can be centrally managed from any Web-enabled computer by either the end user or an administrator through Sendia's WorkSpace Console.'WorkSpace CRM integrates seamlessly with salesforce.com's CRM, Customforce and Multiforce.
By wirelessly extending a company's contact database, WorkSpace CRM improves the productivity, efficiency and sales effectiveness of sales organizations by providing critical data. It lets sales teams increase their time and productivity in the field. According to Sendia, 'Our solution results in better information flowing in near real-time in both directions, improving closing rates and management efficiency and reducing sales downtime.'
A key feature of WorkSpace CRM is that there is no waiting; the solution instantly logs users in. It is also network-independent and will work in or out of wireless coverage using a cached copy of thousands of records from your database as well as synchronization when users are back in a wireless coverage area. All communication is done in the background and over-the-air, so there is no need to cradle the device to 'synch up.'
Many competing solutions use browser-based Web technology to make CRM data accessible. But because these applications require a wireless connection to function, when the connection is temporarily lost, the user must start all over, resulting in a poor user experience and a solution that is unusable in many situations. The Sendia solution is unique in that it does not require an 'always on' connection.
Another innovative aspect of this solution is the management console that lets administrators deploy new users, monitor connectivity, upgrade software and shut down lost or stolen devices entirely over the air, quickly and from any Web-based computer.
Sendia claims many 'firsts' ' the first wireless vendor to break the user dependence on a wireless network, the first local SQL database on a mobile device, the first CRM product for palmOne's Treo, and many others. The company is also the first wireless solution designed for salesforce.com that provides full support for custom objects created using salesforce.com's Customforce application on the Multiforce platform. Customforce enables the development of custom third-party and customer applications into Salesforce. Because Sendia supports Customforce, data and functionality from these integrated third-party and customer-created applications (such as expense and inventory tracking), can be accessed through Sendia's WorkSpace CRM. Therefore, any salesforce.com customer who uses Sendia can create and deploy a third-party application or customer-added business processes via seamless point-and-click capability, and no software programming is needed.
SER Solutions, Inc.
CPS Enterprise Edition (CPS E')
SER's CPS E' is a contact center solution that combines the power of a patented predictive dialing platform with real-time call record management and call blending. The primary feature that sets CPS E' apart is its real-time portfolio management capability. It provides holistic real-time management of call records, campaign strategies, agent profiles, work sessions and agent workflow. In addition, the platform arms each agent and supervisor with campaign-specific information such as who to call, when to call and the best agent for the call, and it improves the outcome of every customer interaction while minimizing agent idle time throughout the workday.
CPS E''s dynamic record management eliminates the need to create calling lists. Instead, campaigns are configured to automatically select calling records from any portfolio of records based on defined business strategies (database queries). Record selection for a campaign can be based on virtually any criteria and can be changed, on the fly, to create new contact strategies. SER told us, 'CPS E' is the first enterprise solution to radically shift the contact center away from a linear, list-driven approach to a fully integrated customer-centric business process.' They added, 'It turns manual list segmentation processes into a well-orchestrated system that fosters flexibility, campaign control and customer record optimization.'Offerings from competitors are based on static list management.'
It's worth noting that CPS E' offers an open API so that contact centers can easily take advantage of SER's patented SmartPace VI dialing algorithm with other switches such as Aspect, Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, Nortel and Siemens. It is also worth noting that CPS E' has excellent campaign recycling capabilities. Specifically, CPS E' allows a contact center to run multiple passes against a portfolio of records at various times of the day, enabling it to retry records that previously resulted in busy signals, answering machines and ring-no-answers. CPS E' also supports state and federal do-not-call legislation by ensuring numbers on the do-not-call list are not contacted.
But the true power of CPS E' is its ability to dynamically create campaigns and alter them on the fly to meet current needs. For example, you can simply query the centralized database to select all records with consumer debt >90 days outstanding and provide a mix of records so that agents receive 25 percent of the records with debt < $5,000, 25 percent of the records with debt between $5,000 and $15,000 and 50 percent of the records with debt over $15,000. In a 'just-in-time fashion,' call records matching the current business strategy are extracted from the database to be called and agents are immediately assigned to this new business strategy.
The best way to describe CallCenterAnywhere is that it is a 'complete call center in a box' that provides users with a 'soup-to-nuts' solution that covers just about any call center and communications functionality you can think of. For example, it includes all of the following components: PBX, IP gateway, unified messaging, automatic call distributors (ACD), chat and e-mail distributors, Web callback servers, VoIP and Voice-over-Web ('click-to-talk'), Web collaboration, e-mail analysis and auto-response systems, IVR servers, call recorders and loggers, voice mail, fax and unified messaging servers, campaign scripting systems, CTI gateways, Web-based self-help systems, supervisor monitoring and coaching systems, and predictive/preview dialers. There is so much built into this product, we were hard-pressed to list just the most unique and innovative features. Probably the most innovative aspect is that Telephony@Work has combined so many disparate functions into one converged system.
CallCenterAnywhere is an adaptive, multimedia IP contact center solution with excellent multisite capabilities. It is architected to handle outsourcers and service agencies. The built-in IP-PBX soft switch supports both SIP and H.323 and acts as a bridge between protocols to render them interoperable. The ability to add home-based agents, on-demand and without additional infrastructure costs, provides increased flexibility and competitive advantages. It also supports chat with content-analysis and suggested responses, Web collaboration and form sharing, Web callback and voice-over-Web.
The product includes a multichannel ACD with weighted, skills-based routing capabilities (unlimited skills, unlimited number of workgroups'up to 100 variables can be taken into account in any skills-based routing decision). The ACD also takes into account customer priority business rules to deliver consistent customer treatment across all media channels with a universal queue. CallCenterAnywhere's universal queuing is unique in that it enables complex weighted skills-based-routing algorithms to be created and modified on-demand across all media channels from menu selections; taking into account customer needs, agent skill proficiencies and customer-priority routing rules.
The product is completely browser-based, including the agent interface, with multimedia interaction controls/call control/soft wallboard and browser-based supervisor and administrator interfaces. CTI screen pops are very powerful and can even pop context-sensitive text stored in the database and/or context-sensitive HTML scripts. This capability is integrated-by-design and scripts can be associated with IVR selections, dialed telephone numbers, multimedia transactions, ANI pattern matching (area code, etc.) and a variety of other events. Other interesting features include whisper coaching, barge-in/take-over, the ability for a supervisor to view agents' screens, call recording, call blending, predictive and preview dialing, browser-based reporting and more. We should also mention that CallCenterAnywhere can scale up to support thousands of users and cost-effectively scale down for small to medium-sized deployments. If you're looking for a solid 'all-in-one' call center solution with rapid deployment,
then Telephony@Work's CallCenterAnywhere certainly fits the bill.
TeleTech Holdings, Inc.
TeleTech On Demand
TeleTech is one of the leaders in providing large-scale hosted VoIP solutions for the call center market. In fact, TeleTech transacted over 250 million VoIP minutes to CSR desktops in 2004. Work schedules for more than 16,000 CSRs in North America alone are managed from TeleTech's centralized workforce management platform, and over 75,000 customer interactions are recorded each month to support TeleTech's quality management program.
TeleTech On Demand services provide clients access to their technology infrastructure on an as-needed basis. This approach results in decreased capital expenses and the availability of new capabilities without investing in infrastructure.'Using TeleTech On Demand, technology services can be deployed to an infrastructure consistently across all facilities.
On Demand components include Intelligent Systems On Demand, Performance Applications On Demand and Dynamic Insights On Demand. The Intelligent Systems On Demand suite features hosted information routing services, which are a combination of TeleTech's ACD and networking functionality, IVR and hosted computer-telephony integration (CTI). The hosted CTI is available in two packages: Voice CTI supports intelligent data-driven routing and screen pops, and Multimedia CTI extends the reach of Voice CTI to include e-mail, chat and other custom media types.
Most call center operations in the past were required to install an ACD in every contact center facility ' equipment that can cost millions of dollars to purchase and is costly to maintain. Using TeleTech On Demand, clients can pay a monthly fee and have access to advanced ACD technology provided through TeleTech's centralized, hosted data center, the GigaPOP. In this model, clients buy just what they need and pay for what they use.
One interesting hosted application is the hosted Quality Management (QM), a fully-managed quality assurance application that comes pre-integrated with the hosted information routing offering and provides a complete integrated solution including recording, archive, administration and replay. Another hosted application is hosted Workforce Management (WFM), a fully managed workforce management application that comes pre-integrated with the hosted information routing offering and provides a complete, integrated solution including forecasting, scheduling and adherence functions.
Both small and large contact centers can benefit from TeleTech's solution, which brings global, centralized contact center technology infrastructure using true VoIP to the agent desktop and centralized management for thousands of workstations distributed around the world.
UniPress Software's FootPrints is a powerful service desk tool that helps organizations centralize and manage all service and support requests from a single Web-based platform. The solution provides organizations with the ability to reduce support costs, speed customer problem resolution, improve agent workflow, and deliver worldwide support 24/7. Mid-market companies looking for an easy-to-use, fast-to-implement, 100 percent Web-based system to centralize all service and support activities without programming, outside consulting or complex administration will find UniPress to be more than capable of handling their needs.
The system includes the capability to centrally manage and track all incoming service and support requests received from multiple channels (phone, e-mail, Web, live chat and wireless devices).'FootPrints offers a number of other features and functionality including self-service online, knowledge management, business rule automation, service level management, two-way e-mail management, workflow and change management and powerful, automated metrics and reporting to keep a constant pulse on productivity, trends and performance.
Launched in 1996, UniPress Software claims to be a true innovator by being the first company to introduce a 100 percent Web-based service desk solution. The software was designed to address the void in the mid-market for an easy-to-use, fast-to-implement Web-based system that puts control in the hands of the help desk or support manager without complex programming or consulting required.
One new innovative feature is the FootPrints CRM Bridge, which is a tool that provides the capability to dynamically access and share the latest real-time customer contact records and data stored in Microsoft CRM, Saleforce.com and Salesnet's hosted CRM sales-focused solution. FootPrints also offers integration with LANDesk Inventory Manager, a tool that enables organizations to dynamically access IT asset data from their existing LANDesk Inventory Manager system to improve troubleshooting and accelerate problem resolution. Additionally, UniPress claims they were the first to offer a hosted service version of its product: the FootPrints Hosting Service. UniPress also offers dynamic LDAP integration without programming, and a dynamic SQL database link.
Administrators and managers can create and manage an unlimited number of partitioned projects with unique interfaces and customizations for tracking a variety of business
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