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Feature Article
June 2004


IP: Behind the Scenes in the Latest Contact Center Offerings

BY LAURA GUEVIN

Long gone are the days when the very mention of VoIP as a hot technology could generate excitement. Sure, its interesting to see major carriers migrate toward IP networks for carrying their voice traffic, and its definitely encouraging to see enterprises following suit on a much smaller scale and gutting their PBX closets.

But most service providers have come to the realization that the applications they can offer using VoIP are much more valuable to customers than hyping the transport mechanism. This is becoming increasingly true in the contact center space, where equipment and service providers are quickly coming to understanding the benefits of offering customers an all-in-one package to address their next-generation contact center needs.


CosmoCom (www.cosmocom.com), a provider of all-IP contact center platforms, recently made a partnership announcement with EagleIP (www.eagle.net), a service provider targeting the North American market. I met up with the two companies to learn more about the partnership and find out how it will ultimately benefit Eagle customers.


Eagle is using the CosmoCall Universe platform for its hosted contact center offerings, and is focusing on providing offshore outsourcing in India. CosmoComs hosted Contact Center On-Demand is enabling the company to provide outsourced, full-featured IP call center services to its customers, and this allows their agents to be located anywhere globally, regardless of whether calls originate on the PSTN or an IP network. Eagle provides carrier-grade capacity and availability, and uses a multi-tenant system in which the platform may be shared by many customers, who can also access tenant self-administration features for provisioning.


The offering heralds EagleIPs entry into the market (the company is part of the Eagle group of telecom companies), and is being called EagleACD. Features of the service include outsourced e-mail, Web chat, IVR, predictive dialing, call recording, and many other applications, in addition to of course, outsourced ACD. One of the unique components of Eagles offering is that there is no minimum on the number of seats that must be deployed; customers can pay as they go and add more seats as they expand. They can also do this on a month-to-month basis, to allocate bandwidth to certain applications based on marketing and promotional activities, for instance. Additionally, the service enables customers to terminate their own physical T-1/ DS-3 lines to the companys Class 4 switch, enabling them to have direct relationships with their own carriers.


Kent Charugundla, Eagles CEO, said he expects the majority of agents will be based in India. We chose CosmoCom after doing a thorough evaluation of all available technology providers. We have big plans for this venture, and we wanted to be sure that we were building our service on the right foundation, he said. We are confident that weve found the best technology, and also that with CosmoCom we have a supportive partner who understands that our success is their success.
Another company currently playing in the IP contact space is Nuasis (www.nuasis.com).  Nuasis is trying to address traditional customer service problems in a new way.


IP is the enabler to delivering real business benefits, said Kevin McPartlin, vice president of business development at Nuasis. Its the enabler, but its not really the answer. He pointed out that most enterprises already have a managed corporate data network in place with quality of service controls. So running voice over those networks isnt revolutionary by itself, the prioritized applications that are enabled by the network are the cause of excitement, and the call center is really the killer app.


The Nuasis NuContact Center offers intelligent customer contact routing by phone, e-mail or the Web via a single distributed system with a single point of administration. This central administration is known as the Enterprise Routing Architecture, and is the core of the NuContact Center offering. The platform also has built-in CTI and screen pops, and runs on Dell servers running Linux. It utilizes SIP for sending calls to a softphone on agents desktops, which may be used via a USB headset. The platform also supports instant messaging, push-to-talk, and other multimedia applications.


Deploying voice over existing data networks is a non-issue for Nuasis customers, according to Joseph McFadden, director of marketing at Nuasis. The company does a network audit as part of the implementation process, examining existing routers and configuring them for voice traffic. He adds that because of this, the company considers incumbent voice players like Avaya, Aspect, and Genesys all traditional TDM-based call center players, to be their largest competitors, along with networking giants like Cisco. Ultimately, the Nuasis platform replaces disparate legacy ACD systems that could cost enterprises a bundle in upkeep.


The CosmoCom/Eagle offering and the Nuasis product address two completely different segments of the contact center market. Yet each platform provides the cost savings and application-rich benefits inherent in an IP contact center solution. If you are considering outsourcing your contact center technology or perhaps upgrading your existing in-house system, then these offerings deserve your attention. They provide the same functionality as TDM-based contact center platforms, while adding all the benefits and cost savings of VoIP as a transport mechanism. But perhaps the best thing about them is the addition of rich new multimedia applications that can only be offered via IP.

Laura Guevin is Online Content Director for TMCnet.com The Authority on CRM, VoIP, Communications, Call Centers, Teleservices, Wi-Fi, and Biometrics. She can be reached at webedit@tmcnet.com.

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