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November 16, 2009

Interactive Intelligence Intros Interaction SIP Station, a Simplified End Device for the VoIP Contact Center

By Patrick Barnard, Senior Web Editor, TMCnet

Contact center agents typically use headsets – and thanks to VoIP the phone system is now controlled by software – so why bother providing them with expensive, high-end IP phones loaded with unnecessary functionality? Why not just do away with this costly piece of hardware completely?

That’s the idea behind Interactive Intelligence’s new Interaction SIP Station. It’s a simple VoIP network end device that contact center agents plug their headsets into, yet which delivers full telephony features and functionality by way of the PC desktop.

The company is positioning the device, which works with its Customer Interaction Center VoIP contact center platform, as “an affordable, reliable and simple alternative to IP desk phones.” It’s also an alternative to softphones, which are less reliable and tend to be harder to use.

Interaction SIP Station is a simple 4.5 in. x 4.5 in. x 1.5 in. box that sits on an agent’s desk. It has no hand set, display, or dial pad. It works in conjunction with Interactive Intelligence’s (News - Alert) Interaction Client, a PC-based call control software application offering call recording, call rules, conferencing, presence management, company directory look-up, queue monitoring, call history and other features.

The device, which uses power over Ethernet, sports just a few basic physical buttons -- pick-up/disconnect, mute, volume control, emergency speed dial -- and a multi-function status LED. Interactive Intelligence claims it costs about half as much as a typical IP phone -- and a fraction the cost of a high-end multimedia phone -- thus organizations will be interested in this approach to lowering their overall hardware costs.

"While IP desk phones increasingly offer sophisticated functionality, their complexity and cost are barriers for adoption among many organizations," said Drew Kraus, research vice president with Gartner (News - Alert), in a release. "Though the use of USB headsets with softphones offers an alternative, reliability issues often preclude their use. We've been telling clients for awhile now to lower their infrastructure costs by deploying low-cost phones, while supporting advanced telephony features via PC-based call control applications. By further distilling that endpoint device down to its core functionality, organizations can realize even more savings while still maintaining a clear voice signal and advanced features."

Interactive Intelligence Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Joe Staples said “by providing a dedicated audio path for reliability and using our client application for rich functionality, the Interaction SIP Station provides all the features a company needs in an endpoint device -- and none that they don't."

Interaction SIP Station will be available this quarter and will be distributed through Interactive Intelligence’s network of more than 300 resellers worldwide, and through its direct sales force.

Interactive Intelligence made news in October when it announced that it had teamed up with partner RightNow Technologies to offer an integrated contact center solution to help companies increase agent productivity and improve customer service. The new, combined offering will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

The companies claim that by integrating RightNow’s Web-based “customer experience” software suite with Interactive Intelligence’s VoIP contact center platform, organizations will be able to deploy a full featured, state of the art contact center with far less integration time.
 

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



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