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June 13, 2008

VoIPeering - What is a Call Center Anyway?

By Hunter Newby, CEO

(This article originally appeared in the April 2008 issue of Internet Telephony magazine.)
The PSTN, what’s that? Wasn’t the last big news report about the PSTN proclaiming its death? The problem for “voice” as a revenue-generating service and a stand-alone business is that it got sucked in to the black hole with the PSTN when IP hit the scene. I suppose voice needs a (better) public relations firm. It really needs to distance itself from the ancient circuit-switching technology. Ironic isn’t it that voice needs to add distance in order for it to improve its position. This is clearly the effect of the “gravitational pull” from the massive density of IP and all of its benefits.
Call centers as a function of a larger corporation do not get the attention within the company that the main product or service that they support do. This is natural. Separately, call centers that are stand-alone businesses that provide the labor and software interfaces to deal with other companies’ needs and issues see the people, technology and networks that support the business as primary concerns. This is due to the fact that it is their main focus. As a result they are usually better equipped and operate at a better cost base than companies that try to do it themselves. This is one of the key motivators for outsourcing.
Call centers, also sometimes referred to as contact centers, provide support for many types of business that we all interface with almost every day. Those businesses include credit card companies, airlines, computers and software, package delivery, hotels, car rental and entertainment just to name a few. All of these business types are keys to the overall economy and their smooth operation is critical.
Most people, when they hear the term call center, imagine something gloomy or just get a negative feeling in general as it is not a hot and flashy business to be in, really. They’re all just big open rooms with cubes, computer terminals and phones, right? Similar to the PSTN, maybe this business needs a PR firm. The truth is that without them the hot and flashy stuff, like the Internet itself, wouldn’t run so well. Beyond that there is a real opportunity to not only give the entire industry a makeover, but to take the next big step in harnessing some of the very technology that these centers support. An IP Voice Grid linking the processing power of multiple call center resources together would produce significant savings and create new revenue sources for all involved.
Hunter Newby is Chief Strategy Officer / Director at Special Purpose Acquisition Corp.

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