It might seem obvious to say, but when it comes to unified communications, interoperability is critically important.
Unified communications involves the integration of disparate communications systems - including phone, email, Web chat, SMS, fax and conferencing - on a single platform. By tightly integrating these different communications channels together, organizations can streamline communications, improve collaboration and boost employee productivity.
While most UC platforms allow just about any communications systems to be integrated, there is the question as to how involved the integrations are and how long they take to carry out. To help organizations save time and money on integration costs, most vendors of UC solutions base their solutions on industry standards such as session initiation protocol (SIP) - but perhaps more importantly they are carrying out interoperability testing with other vendors and providing connectors that allow for "out-of-the-box" integration with other leading communications systems. This out-of-the-box integration is important to the vendors because it allows fast implementation and improves reliability, which in turn helps boost vendor sales. Having SIP as a standard is great, but unfortunately not all vendors build their SIP stacks the same way, and the variations on the standard are what make it necessary for vendors to develop interoperability.
Zeacom is a leading provider of advanced unified communications solutions that integrate real-time communication tools such as presence, contact routing, conferencing, chat and speech recognition with conventional tools such as voicemail, email and fax. The company's process automation solutions make it possible to automate repetitive and time consuming business processes, giving companies more time to focus on revenue generating activities.
The company's flagship platform, Zeacom (News - Alert) Communications Center (ZCC), allows for "out-of-the-box" integration with numerous leading systems. For example in February the company announced that its call center software is now certified interoperable with Cisco Unified Communication Manager 7.1.2. Zeacom received the certification through Cisco's (News - Alert) Interoperability Verification Testing (IVT) Certification program.
Zeacom is also a longtime Microsoft Partner and thus all of its solutions are interoperable with Microsoft (News - Alert) products. Late last year Zeacom announced that ZCC is fully interoperable with Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) via a new OCS gateway it developed. This new gateway is geared for small to medium sized businesses which have already deployed ZCC -- either in the contact center or company-wide -- but which desire certain unified communications features or capabilities delivered through Microsoft OCS. This interoperability gives Zeacom customers a faster, simpler and more affordable migration path to unified communications company-wide, using existing equipment and software.
For example, a company which has deployed ZCC only in its contact center can deploy Microsoft OCS in other departments and then integrate the two systems. This allows certain OCS features to be extended into ZCC -- or vice versa. As such, it allows companies to "mix and match" the features and capabilities of the two systems -- whether it be presence, conferencing, mobility, single-click access to voicemail, or process automation. What's more, you can customize the UC features and functionality available to each department or user in your organization.
Through integration of the two systems, call center agents can leverage "presence," which is the ability to view the availability status of other users on the network, including users outside of the main office or on mobile devices. So, for example, if an agent needs to escalate a call to an "expert" outside of the main center, they can quickly view the availability status of other knowledge workers and transfer the call to the one who is "available." This, in turn, speeds service levels, improves first call resolution and boosts customer satisfaction.
The OCS gateway will be of interest to organizations that need more than just a generic "one size fits all" Communicator client. Specialized tools are required for complex networks and call configurations, communications-enabled business processes, contact centers, operators and other key business functions.
It will also be of interest to companies looking to maximize the investment in their current telephony infrastructure and equipment, as it will enable them to cost effectively extend the phone system's basic operation to the PC desktop, and provides the essential UC tools that are missing in the communications framework. Thus it eliminates the need to rip out or replace existing telephone system in order to achieve the latest and greatest UC functionality.
Zeacom's call center software is also certified interoperable withselect telephony hardware from Avaya. More specifically ZCC 5.1 is fully compatible with Avaya (News - Alert) IP Office 4.2. What's more these solutions share the same source code and thus can reliably support rich presence, unified messaging, blended out-dialing, IVR, operator console, mobility, SIP-based audio conferencing and more on just one server using a single administrative interface.
Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard