TMCnet - World's Largest Communications and Technology Community




highpriority.gif (1355 bytes)
July 1999

rich.gif (5262 bytes)

Four Factors That Will Transform Your Call Center: Are You Ready For The Change?


It seems incredible to me that in the 18 years since this magazine started publishing in 1982, the call center market has been one of the fastest growing segments of our economy! Every year, a bevy of new companies, products and technologies are introduced to the industry media and, of course, your call centers.

The most important recent technology that call center decision makers need to keep track of is Internet telephony or IP (Internet Protocol) telephony. Internet telephony typically implies that telephony is traveling over the Internet and IP telephony implies telephony traveling over any network that is based on the Internet protocol such as an Intranet or your corporate LAN.

Coincidentally, I am also Group Publisher of Internet Telephony magazine and this gives me a unique perspective of the voice and data convergence market and how it affects your call center. Internet telephony in your call center makes a tremendous amount of sense because call centers are so telephony centric. Efficiencies that a traditional office enjoys through automation are increased exponentially in a call center due to enormous calling volumes.

My first hint of IP telephony creeping into the call center came to me when I met representatives from a company called CellIT a few years back and witnessed their ACD based on ATM, a networking technology that was designed from its inception to handle voice and video. Other companies such as PakNetX  released IP telephony call center solutions that were software-only products.

So, you may be thinking, every week there are hundreds of new press releases announcing call center products from Web-based ACD monitoring tools to Java- based agent interfaces to CRM solutions that can consolidate a companies sales, marketing and customer service functions into a single solution. Why are these two companies so special?

These companies' products are just precursors to a much bigger snapshot of the call center's evolution. In the last few months, four things have happened that convinced me that the call center market will never be the same - we are set for a transformation.

  1. Cisco Buys GeoTel: Two years ago, Cisco could hardly even spell te-lephony and now, almost out of nowhere, it is the biggest threat that Lucent and Nortel have ever faced. As a result of Cisco's entry into the voice market, Lucent and Nortel have collectively spent over 30 billion dollars to acquire data communications companies. Cisco's first push into telephony was by IP telephony-enabling its routers; it then purchased Selsius Systems, an IP-PBX or voice/data switch vendor. With its purchase of GeoTel, Cisco is now able to leverage its expertise in service provider and corporate telephony into the call center. It has the power to establish new standards almost overnight and can easily leverage existing products and distribution channels to get into your call center.
  2. The response to the Live, Blended Multimedia Call Center at CTI EXPO in May of this year: By far, the most interest in any booth I have ever seen at any trade show this year was the interest paid to CellIT's live call center. In conjunction with a host of partners, CellIT demonstrated why the future of call centers is based on ATM as well as IP telephony technology. Please see the CTI EXPO sidebar for details.
  3. Intel has just purchased Dialogic: Dialogic makes the voice and fax boards for the majority of ACDs, predictive dialers and fax servers in our market. Recently, Microsoft decided to make Dialogic's CT Media an industry standard and in addition, purchased a portion of Dialogic. A few weeks ago, Intel decided to purchase Dialogic and this will mean that the CTI market and call center market as a whole will grow more quickly through the more rapid adoption of open standards and programming interfaces. For more information on CT Media, please see my High Priority! column in the May 1999 issue of [email protected] CENTER Solutions.  For more information on the Intel/Dialogic purchase, please see my Publisher's Outlook in the July issue of CTI.
  4. Recent conversations with Microsoft have alluded to the fact that Microsoft is extremely interested in getting more involved in the call center market: Microsoft's greater involvement in the industry increases the visibility of the call center market and means that we can expect more companies to get involved with producing call center products and as a result we can look forward to more industry-standard, less expensive products.

So we can expect the second half of 1999 and the next millennium to be filled with innovations and more efficient technologies brought on by the integration of IP telephony into the call center. If you are planning any call center telecom hardware purchases, you really must keep up with the latest IP telephony technology as it relates to your call center and customer relationship management.


Rich Tehrani
Group Publisher

CTI EXPO: The Best Place To Learn About IP Telephony — Bar None Attendance Tops 16,000!

Having just recently returned from the latest CTI EXPO in Washington, D.C., I can tell you unequivocally that the interest in voice and data convergence is at frenzied levels. The best indicator of this frenzy may be the fact that attendance and exhibit space has doubled from the first-ever CTI EXPO in Baltimore only one year earlier. In fact, over 16,000 attendees came to CTI EXPO in just two days of exhibits!

Having attended industry trade shows in telecom and datacom for years, I have never seen the interest in information that attendees displayed recently at CTI EXPO. Cisco, Nortel, Lucent, Microsoft and IBM had mob scenes in their booths. CTI EXPO attendees included a good mix of resellers, end users, service providers and call center decision makers, all trying to absorb the latest in convergence technology and learn how they can benefit from the merging of the once disparate voice and data networks.

In fact, CTI EXPO just may have been the busiest show I have attended all year — and I attend dozens of datacom and telecom events annually! We have already received many testimonials from attendees, conferees and exhibitors, which we have posted at www.ctiexpo.com/testimonials.

Amazingly, not only was there a tremendous amount of interest in traditional convergence, telecom and Internet telephony exhibitors, but call center exhibitors were mobbed as well. CTI EXPO has become the largest call center event by far in just one year!

In fact, perhaps the largest crowds I have ever seen at any booth at any show were the ones I witnessed at the Live, Blended Multimedia Call Center co-sponsored by  CellIT and TMC as well as CellIT’s own booth. In two days, over 1,000 attendees went through CellIT’s booth alone! Amazingly enough, CellIT had 12 agents (arranged by InkTel Marketing of Miami, Florida ) continuously calling attendees and inviting them to the show. In just two days, these agents made and took over 8,000 phone calls. Even more incredible, the call center was assembled in only two days and was absolutely stunning in appearance. CellIT and its partners deserve a great deal of credit for assembling this state-of-the-art call center in a matter of hours. Many call centers with legacy equipment take months to get up and running with less functionality than CellIT’s multimedia center. They should be commended for their tremendous efforts and all other call center vendors better take note of what these guys are on to — there has never been anything like this in the call center market — ever. No single technology in the call center market has generated the interest level I witnessed last week. Amazingly, CellIT had agents transmitting telephony over ATM and now IP — an announcement they made at CTI EXPO.

There is no better place in the world to test IP telephony or packetized voice than an active call center. In two days, over 8,000 flawless IP telephony and ATM telephony calls were conducted in the multimedia call center. As if a call center environment is not a tough enough environment to test in, the entire demo was done on a trade show floor. Having witnessed trade show demos for years, I can tell you that many vendors can’t even get a demo to work correctly in their booth a single time. CellIT demonstrated 8,000 call completions! Any demo that works on a trade show floor where over 100 factors are not in anyone’s control should work really well in a controlled environment like your office.

If you think you missed the boat by not being at CTI EXPO in D.C., you are right. But don’t fret, the demand for the Live, Blended Multimedia Call Center was so great that we have received many requests from attendees who want a repeat performance at our upcoming CTI EXPO Las Vegas, December 7-9. We have already started working with CellIT to build an even better Live, Blended Multimedia Call Center in Las Vegas. You won’t want to miss this one — it may be the last time you ever get to see the live call center in action!

At TMC we are never satisfied — we are always looking for ways to make our events the best in the world. Just as we make sure our publications provide you with objective, leading-edge, in-depth information available nowhere else, we are constantly improving our trade shows as well.

Las Vegas To Feature Six Learning Centers
Just one of the many unique features of the next CTI EXPO will be the six brand-new learning centers that will objectively inform you on all the most important and timely voice and data convergence technologies.

CT Media: CT Media is a Microsoft/ Dialogic/ECTF standard that is used to construct a computer-telephony (CT) server. Think of a CT server as roughly analogous to a database server. When a company installs a database server such as Oracle in their organization, many applications can take advantage of the database through open interfaces such as ODBC. CT Media abstracts hardware in the same way that Oracle abstracts the database. In both cases, applications can access core server functions through a variety of function calls. In this learning center, you will witness many applications adhering to the CT media standard and witness the power of truly open telephony.

Development/Testing: Developers have so many options when it comes to building CTI applications — from picking the right DSP resource boards to employing the right development environment, there is so much to consider. Once you’ve developed your application, you should make sure to test it thoroughly with the latest generation of testing tools from companies like Ameritec and Hammer. This learning center will have enough diversity to allow the beginner through the expert-level developer to get a grasp of the latest development technologies.

Linux Telephony: Linux and open-source software has emerged from a cult-like status to become the love of Webmasters and network administrators alike. Linux is the biggest threat to Microsoft’s operating system dominance in years. (For a great article on open-source in CTI please see the March Horizon article.) Advantages of open source software include the fact that armies of programmers worldwide can modify and augment the original source code — in this way, the original product evolves and morphs much more quickly and becomes more useful than if the software was under a single company’s control. Linux telephony is a relatively new concept, but many vendors are betting that Linux is exactly the OS they need to make their telephony solutions a success.

Next-Gen Call Center Technology: E-commerce without human interaction is like shopping in a department store with no one to help answer your questions. The latest generation of call center and Web integration products succeeds in marrying Web sites to call centers so that your customers can always opt for a live agent to help them before and during their purchases.

Enhanced Services/Network CTI: This is the newest field for service providers to explore…a field with unlimited new product opportunities that customers need and service providers can profit from. Internet call waiting, Web-based unified messaging, follow-me services and broadcast Internet fax are just a few of the next generation of IP-based enhanced services we can all look forward to using.

Wireless CTI: Palm-based computers will eventually merge with cell phones and IP will be the universal wireless networking standard. In addition to telephony, IP wireless devices will allow you to have access to e-mail, the Web, GPS, the latest stock market developments, a database of contacts and myriad other features currently available only on our desktops. Come see how far wireless CTI technology has come and where it is headed.

We have so many new things to introduce at CTI EXPO in Las Vegas December 7-9 that I can’t even begin to cover all of them here. Please sign up for the exhibit hall for free today at www.ctiexpo.com and save $25. Once you have done so, we will make sure to keep you posted via e-mail on the latest developments as they happen. For further information, you can always visit our Web site at www.ctiexpo.com for the details.

Why IP Telephony Will Replace Traditional Telephony

IP telephony will replace traditional telephony for the following reasons:

Corporate Users

  • Will realize tremendous savings by transmitting traditional telephony between their various locations over their existing packet networks or the Internet without paying per-minute charges for voice;
  • Studies have shown that running a single line carrying voice and video to the desktop will save more than $40 per desktop;
  • Support costs drop as only one network infrastructure needs to be supported;
  • Enhanced services such as IP-based collaborative computing allow many people to work together seamlessly, simultaneously annotating documents while communicating through voice, video, fax and chat.

End Users —

  • Will enjoy less expensive long-distance by using Internet telephony long-distance companies;
  • Will enjoy free long-distance with the aid of a PC or an Internet telephony appliance;
  • Will eventually be able to have access to myriad enhanced services such as Internet call waiting, which allows a Web surfer to receive and make phone calls on a single line while simultaneously surfing the Web.

Service Providers

  • The incumbent service providers will no doubt lose revenue to Internet telephony-based long-distance companies;
  • l All service providers will benefit by providing enhanced services such as Web-based unified messaging, Web and call center integration services, IP telephony, ACD, Centrex and Internet call waiting.

Technology Marketing Corporation

2 Trap Falls Road Suite 106, Shelton, CT 06484 USA
Ph: +1-203-852-6800, 800-243-6002

General comments: [email protected].
Comments about this site: [email protected].


© 2023 Technology Marketing Corporation. All rights reserved | Privacy Policy