Customer Inter@ction Solutions realizes that technology is the key to the success of any call center, as we have been editorially covering call center technology for 25 years. We also realize that with new products and new categories of products in the call center space, it can be difficult for our readers to keep up with the latest and greatest products and services. This is why we launched the IP Contact Center Technology Pioneer Awards so we can highlight for readers the best of the best in this emergent technology that is saving call centers all over the world a great deal of time, effort and capital. We've chosen as winners the products with the most admirable feature sets and the best track records of dramatically improving the operations of today's call centers.
Each company that submitted for this award was required to complete a questionnaire detailing its target market, its product's unique or distinctive features, its competitors and, of course, a list of customer references of organizations that have deployed the solution.
Following is the full list of IP Contact Center Technology Pioneer Award winners. To all of the recipients, congratulations.
' Tracey Schelmetic
Asterix Business Edition IP-PBX
With the Asterisk Business Edition, Aspect Software (news - alert) offers a professional-grade open-source IP-PBX for customers of Aspect's Unified and Signature product lines. This packaged offering includes the Asterisk Business Edition license, SIP phones (optional), application servers and IP gateways (optional), interoperability with Aspect contact center products, installation and deployment of the solution and post-deployment support. Based on the Asterisk open-source PBX, the product offers companies the same call handling capabilities expected of closed PBX systems at a substantially reduced cost, including features such as switched or packet data and voice mail. Asterisk Business Edition IP-PBX provides tested reliability of critical functions and features, and also includes support and full documentation.'
Cisco Unified Contact Center
Cisco (quote - news - alert) Unified Contact Center is an IP-based solution designed to support virtual call centers across many locations. It is ideal for large enterprises as well as small and mid-sized organizations that need to ensure scalability as their businesses grow. The Cisco Unified Contact Center can be hosted in a service provider environment as well as on premise, so businesses can choose the deployment model that best matches their organizational, technical and operations capabilities.
Cisco Unified Contact Center delivers intelligent contact routing, call treatment, network-to-desktop computer-telephony integration (CTI) and multichannel contact management over an IP infrastructure. The solution combines multichannel ACD functionality with IP telephony in a unified solution, enabling companies to rapidly deploy a distributed contact center infrastructure. Cisco Unified Contact Center enables companies to smoothly integrate inbound and outbound voice applications with Internet applications including real-time chat, Web collaboration and e-mail.
(news - alert) Purpose-built for remote support, GoToAssist is a comprehensive remote assistance solution designed to revolutionize how contact centers and outsourcers and consulting and IT professionals are instantly helping their customers, anytime and anywhere, while increasing profitability. Now in its seventh generation and delivering more than 10 million remote sessions annually to more than 4,000 corporate customers, GoToAssist is a managed service that offers ease-of-use, quality of service, availability, security and capability. With its advanced suite of new features, including a management center dashboard, expanded integration services, best practices resource center and enhanced collaboration and productivity tools, GoToAssist 7.0 can help transform remote services/ support into competitive advantage.
CosmoCall Universe (news - alert) meets the contact center business needs of a wide variety of organizations. Network service providers, IT and teleservices outsourcers and other service organizations use the platform to offer hosted contact center on-demand services to their clients, in both dedicated hosting scenarios and especially in shared-platform scenarios. Outsourcers also use it to fulfill both inbound and outbound service agreements with their clients. Enterprises use CosmoCall Universe as their premise-based contact center system, sometimes providing an internal hosted contact center service to the many contact center clients within their enterprises. OEMs use its technology in their own complete contact center and customer relationship management solutions. System Integrators, VARs and business process outsourcers offer CosmoCall Universe as a component of their clients' CRM and business process solutions.
EagleACD (news - alert) has earned a reputation of being customer-centric and visionary. The basic idea is to move computing/ networking toward a utility pay-for-use model in which users can tap into vast pools of computing/networking power and use only what they need, only paying for the bandwidth processing/network connectivity and applications that are actually used. Based on customer needs, key parameters and product voids in the marketplace, Eagle developed what it calls the industry's first truly innovative 'pay-as-you-go' pricing scheme.
This is a practical and cost-effective solution within the IP hosted contact center industry. Moving from a fixed-cost, asset-based payment plan to a variable non-asset based payment for minutes used is a marketing innovation. Clients pay for only the minutes they use. There is not a lot of extra billing for different items, no fixed monthly expenses per agent seat and no minimum.
Five9 Virtual Call Center Inbound
Five9 (news - alert) Virtual Call Center Inbound enables organizations to better manage inbound calls by quickly ensuring that all incoming calls are automatically routed to the correct individuals or departments through simple and easy-to-set-up IVR phone trees and 'skills groups,' and prioritizes calls based on customer type, call type or other customer-specified criteria. To help organizations provide the best service possible and allow the agent to resolve the call as efficiently as possible, Five9's on-demand solution identifies inbound callers based on their phone numbers, and 'screen pops' or displays the caller's name and other information to the agent or operator when they take the call. Additionally, call center supervisors can use the call recording feature for proof of a transaction or quality control, and ensure that agents have the right scripts or 'worksheets' to best answer customer questions and/or steer the customer into an upsell opportunity. Five9's on-demand, hosted service allows for easy set-up and administration of at-home agent workforces as well as singular or distributed multisite centers to act as one, regardless of geographic location.
GoldMine IP Voice Suite
GoldMine IP Voice Suite (news - alert) was the first customer interaction solution to combine IP telephony and CRM from a single vendor. By bringing VoIP into a critical application such as contact management, FrontRange is enabling the SMB and distributed enterprise the opportunity to adopt enterprise-level technology without having to sacrifice enterprise-level resources. Multiple vendor solutions often break when one vendor changes its product, and fixing that integration takes time. FrontRange's IP Voice system provides deep integration with GoldMine, and the integration always works because of the 'single vendor' advantage.
The greatest benefit of combining CRM and advanced phone system functionality is that implementations of VoIP telephony technologies, integrated with CRM, are making a traditionally complex and expensive process now easier and more affordable, which greatly accelerates the return on investment.
(news - alert) The GN 9350 is a versatile, multi-use wireless headset that fits a variety of hands-free needs in the office and contact center industry. The GN 9350 is ideal for contact center supervisors who monitor agent calls on their PCs via a USB headset but are still using traditional telephony for their own telephone calls. With the GN 9350, these managers can use one headset for both tasks and roam from their desks while on calls. The GN 9350 offers DSP-enhanced sound quality and 6.8 kHz wideband audio that supports the full IP bandwidth. The GN 9350 also supports wireless conference calling. Up to four GN 9350 users are able to synch into the same call with their individual headsets by simply placing each headset into the base station of where the original connection was established. The conference call, typically consisting of people confined in a room crowded around a speakerphone, is now transformed into a discrete, clear conversation, giving its participants the convenience to roam within a 300-foot range.
The Mitel Customer Interaction Solution
Because of its modular design, the Mitel (news - alert) Customer Interaction Solution can grow with a contact center as call volumes and the need for increasing levels of sophistication increase. The suite is based on Microsoft .NET architecture and uses Microsoft tools such as Exchange, Outlook and Office to provide multimedia contact center management applications that are both familiar and easy to use. Voice interactions can be seamlessly integrated to fax, e-mail and chat and routed to agents based on skill sets and the company's business rules. Mitel's Walk-in Distribution uses traditional ACD routing algorithms to route in-person walk-in clients to the first and most appropriate counter agent available across multiple disciplines. In combination with the routing of walk-in clients, the application also supplies the historical reporting and real-time monitoring of the counter agents who service your customers. Walk-in traffic becomes just another form of media that can be processed in conjunction with voice, e-mail, Web chat and fax.
Nortel Contact Center 6.0
Because Nortel (news - alert) IP Contact Center solutions are infrastructure-neutral, they do not require a proprietary data network and they function independently of network infrastructure ' IP, TDM or mixed. As a result, companies have maximum flexibility in how they implement an IP contact center solution, with many choosing a transition to retain more of their investment. New sites usually implement pure IP for utmost agility and the lower cost of maintenance. Agents, supervisors, managers and administrators can work anywhere they have secure Internet access, not just in locations on the company WAN, using soft phones and browser-based tools.
Highlights include the following: SIP contact center and Expert Anywhere, which help companies be instantaneously responsive and drive first contact resolution; a streamlined CSR desktop with consistent new tools for simplifying multimedia contact handling and boosting productivity; fully integrated outbound management, supporting proactive service; next-generation CTI capabilities to integrate applications rapidly in an easy-to-use development environment; and a reporting wizard that lets managers use the same browser-based tool to create custom reports. Nortel has also introduced Contact Recording and Quality Monitoring, which is fully integrated into IP Contact Center.
(news - alert) The DA55 adapter was designed to deliver digital audio excellence to contact centers and other organizations that use VoIP soft phones as their primary communications tool and remote employees using soft phones. The DA55 adapter offers a Call Clarity feature, which enhances intelligibility by equalizing incoming call volume; SoundGuard Plus, which shields listeners from excessively loud transmissions; and echo cancellation to ensure natural conversation even with VoIP latency. Paired with any Plantronics professional headset, the adapter infuses digital-signal clarity into every VoIP soft phone communication.
Redwood Technologies Ltd.
RedMatrix (news - alert) is Redwood's versatile conferencing application for IP and telephony networks. The product combines flexible configuration options with real-time management, co-ordination and reporting tools, providing a complete solution for managed and self-managed conferencing services. RedMatrix supports multiple simultaneous conferences in a controlled and scalable environment. Meetings can be set up instantly, or pre-arranged via the built-in scheduling tools. With optional 'listen only' and recording features, conferences can be managed and controlled easily and effectively. Fully compatible with next-generation networks, RedMatrix provides support for circuit-switched, wireless network calls and VoIP calls, allowing conferees to call in, or be called, wherever they happen to be.
Symon Communications Inc.
Symon Digital Appliance (SDA)
Symon (news - alert) has strategically extended its IP wallboard technology solutions to the Symon Digital Appliance (SDA) for use in any call center and enterprise with a requirement for simple digital information display or to blend real-time statistical data for simultaneous viewing with other types of information such as streaming video, employee news and company updates, and emergency communication on eye-appealing flat panel displays. The SDA is available in four models that address specific viewing needs. All models can operate concurrently on the same Symon Enterprise Server (SES) software that powers all Symon products. This alleviates the need for numerous other control devices for storing and scheduling content for broadcast. Since it is an IP appliance, a centralized SES can control any number of SDAs on the LAN or WAN; a wireless option is also available.
CallCenterAnywhere (news - alert) is a multimedia ACD that delivers skills-based routing, blended outbound dialing, and built-in quality assurance capabilities in a single, pre-integrated solution. CallCenterAnywhere includes an integrated SIP soft switch that is differentiated by transparent and universal interoperability between VoIP protocols (H.323 and SIP) that are generally mutually exclusive on other vendor platforms.
CallCenterAnywhere offers a seamless IP migration plan in that it can act as an overlay solution across geographically diverse locations. The application logic and supporting environmental software (Web servers, mail servers, application servers, etc.) can reside in a remote data center (with optional mirroring in real-time in another) and provide control for IP voice gateways at an unlimited number of locations by securely leveraging the public Internet. IP gateways can also act as stand-alone switching resources or sit in front of or sit behind legacy PBXs at remote sites. These gateways can be strictly site-specific or represent entry points and exit points in a unified global network; one managed by a common single or multitenant back-end application infrastructure. Local tenant processes can live on-site or in the network.
Toshiba America Information
Strata ACD IP Call Center Solution
Toshiba's Strata ACD is an IP call center solution designed for small to medium-sized enterprises or larger corporate users with multiple sites. Compatible with Toshiba's Strata CIX IP family of business communication solutions, which range from a few to hundreds of ports and larger, with multiple systems networked together, the Strata ACD provides an IP call center solution that can be customized to meet the needs of each enterprise.
Toshiba's Strata ACD works with Toshiba's Netphones over Toshiba's Strata CIX IP business communication solution. It can also be converged to add digital telephones. No matter what telephone device is used, Toshiba's Strata ACD functions the same, facilitating ease-of-use for agents and maximizing customer service. All Strata CIX systems (100, 200 and 670) can be networked to expand the call center. Additionally, Toshiba's IP desk telephones and SoftIPT soft phones can allow remote agents over IP. The Strata ACD and reporting applications reside on the Strata MAS (Media Application Server), with auto-attendant, voice mail and many other applications, making it a cost-effective add-on since it shares the hardware platform.
Transera (news - alert) empowers organizations of any size to rapidly deploy a feature-rich call center for agents located anywhere in the world, including in-house, outsourced, remote, branch offices or at home.'Transera co-sells and resells its software through established global IP communications carriers, targeting end users such as enterprises and outsourcers. Transera enables these carriers to upsell and cross-sell additional on-demand services sold on a subscription basis to allow customers to more cost-effectively deploy global call centers. Call center services are easily provisioned and delivered to any site and any agent regardless of geographical location or underlying technology infrastructure. Customers need only a phone and a PC with an Internet connection. Carriers no longer have to host dedicated call center systems in their network to deliver hosted call center services, and there is no requirement to install dedicated equipment for individual customers. As a result, businesses can realize the cost advantages of a bundled end-to-end solution that combines on-demand call center services with transport.
inContact (news - alert) is advanced contact handling software embedded in UCN's national IP network. While many of the company's competitors require the customer site to migrate to onsite IP phone technology, UCN's customers have the option of using their existing TDM phone equipment, or UCN can interface to IP technology if the client has already made the commitment. The product offers a balanced blend of inbound and outbound contact handling features. Included in its basic cost is access to a rapid application development tool that enables IT departments to create customer contact handling flows quickly, or enables less technical business people to modify existing contact flows themselves. inContact offers a set of robust real-time and historical reporting tools, plus real-time monitoring and recording capabilities from a Web-based interface. UCN provides customizable management dashboards for arranging reporting windows to meet individual needs. The pricing model is simple and easy to understand, based primarily on user logins or configured stations and total required voice ports to support on-hold and in-process calls.
SpeechMiner (news - alert) transforms recorded telephone conversations into mission-critical information, reports and alerts for decision makers. SpeechMiner includes four major components: SpeechMiner Platform, which processes the audio information and creates an intelligent database with tags, metadata and event information; SpeechMiner SMART, which allows users who are not speech experts or engineers to translate, define and create categories derived from their business needs; SpeechMiner Dashboard, a Web-based application that enables users to interact and review reports, statistics and alerts personalized for their needs, as well as 'zoom-in' on information and specific events that occur inside the recorded calls; and SpeechMiner Category Library, which consists of business categories that are automatically detected by SpeechMiner for specific business objectives. SpeechMiner's Deliberate Listening technology is scientifically rooted in the Bayesian statistics, Statistical Machine Learning, Discriminative Speech Recognition, Neural Networks and Natural Language Processing fields. Applying Deliberate Listening technology to person-to-person conversations within context has resulted in exceptional real-time processing efficiencies and unmatched speech analytics accuracy and functionality
Verizon Web Center And Verizon Voice-over IP
(quote - news - alert) IP Web Center, a hosted contact center solution, allows companies to quickly start up or expand their customer communications operations in response to rapidly changing business plans or business continuity requirements. Verizon Web Center and Verizon Voice-over IP now share the same network infrastructure and customer premises equipment, so Verizon Business can activate a range of IP telephony services, including IP Web Center, Hosted IP Centrex, IP Integrated Access, IP Flexible T-1 and IP Trunking, at a given company location.
IP Web Center is ideally suited for mid-sized businesses that want to expand the functionality of their existing contact centers or for those that want to build new contact centers based on state-of-the-art customer communications technology. Since IP Web Center is a hosted solution that simply requires a phone and a broadband connection, large companies can also use the service for agents to make and receive calls virtually anywhere in the U.S.
Worldwide SIP Trunk
Voxbone's (news - alert) Worldwide SIP Trunk is a service that allows a call center to get local phone numbers (DID numbers) from 40 countries, and to share the capacity for all these numbers using one common trunk. With Voxbone's product, there is no need to provision one T1 in each country, no need to know anything about TDM, and no per-minute fees. Using Voxbone's Web portal, customers can completely manage the capacity allocated to each of their local numbers. Upgrade of the capacity allocated to a specific number can be done in real-time, at any time.
As an example, a call center based in India might need a local number from New York, London, Sydney and Auckland, New Zealand, and wish for all incoming calls to be forwarded via SIP to the office in India. The call center wants each of the local numbers to support 20 concurrent calls. By using Voxbone's Worldwide SIP Trunk service, the call center can simply order a trunk supporting 20 or 30 concurrent calls, and then share the capacity amongst all the countries that it needs.
WebEx Communications Inc.
WebEx Remote Support
As an Internet-based, on-demand application, WebEx (news - alert) Remote Support sessions can be initiated by the agent or by the customer from the Internet. With a click of a button, customer requests will be queued, routed and distributed to the most qualified available agent. Agents can initiate desktop share, file sharing and address customer concerns in a fast and efficient manner. Customer permission is required to perform any of the functions, providing secure, permission-based access. WebEx Remote Support is delivered on-demand over the WebEx MediaTone Network, a private global network. No new software or hardware is required, making it easy to implement and easy to scale as support needs change. The MediaTone Network offers better than 99.99 percent reliability, as well as robust security. Customer information is never persistently stored on WebEx servers and 128-bit SSL and AES encryption ensures all support calls are private and secure.
Impact 360 IP Recorder
Witness Systems' (news - alert) Impact 360 ' which supports traditional, IP and mixed telephony environments ' is one of the most widely deployed IP call recording solutions on the market today. The Impact 360 IP Recorder enables up to and including 100 percent call/customer interaction recording, easily handling high-volume recording for compliance and sales verification purposes as well as for quality assurance. The software records all voice transactions across multiple sites. It can randomly capture a subset of transactions that may be of particular interest to an individual, or record contacts on-demand. Leveraging Impact 360, companies can acquire more value from telephone contacts by immediately recording, categorizing, notifying and storing their IP telephony calls.
The Impact 360 IP Recorder solution brings the benefits of contact recording, review and analysis to potentially everyone who uses a telephone at their place of work, and enables employees to better collaborate by capturing and sharing recorded contacts enterprisewide. The software-based recorder, which operates on an open architecture, is cost-effective and can scale down to single-channel occasional recording to meet the needs of individuals and small to mid-sized businesses, as well as scale up to meet the requirements of large enterprises.
Zeacom (news - alert) ContactCenter is targeted at organizations operating contact centers with fewer than 300 seats. Zeacom's success in this target market can be attributed to its ability to deliver sophisticated contact center functionality at a price point that is accessible to small and medium-sized organizations. Zeacom has long recognized the importance of Web-based applications and has developed its Zeacom ContactCenter solution with IP-based communications in mind. Zeacom ContactCenter works with multiple IP telephony environments as well as non-IP environments, making it easier for organizations to migrate their contact center operations over to an IP environment. Zeacom's latest release, Zeacom ContactCenter 4.0, encompasses a number of distinctive new features and enhancements. For example, Zeacom's Fax Queuing now makes it easier to reply quickly and accurately to faxes using customized fax response templates. Activity Queuing makes it possible for contact centers to queue, process and manage new media types such as work tickets, reference numbers or outstanding tasks.CIS
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