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TMC Labs
September 2004

TMC Labs Innovation Awards Part I

The TMC Labs Innovation Awards were created to honor products that help carve a new market niche or start a new trend. The award also recognizes products that stand apart from their competitors due to one or more unique and innovative features. This is the fifth-annual installment of the TMC Labs Innovation Awards for Customer Interaction Solutions' magazine.

First, we should point out that customer retention is a key requirement to success, but unfortunately, many organizations cut back on the staffing requirements or technologies necessary to keep customers happy. It is therefore our intention to highlight the technologies and services that exist today to help enable call center and customer service agents to be as knowledgeable and productive as possible. As a result, TMC Labs has based our award selections on not only innovation, but also on products that will improve customer service, with a bottom-line return on investment (ROI) that even the most strident cost-cutting CFO would be hard-pressed to ignore.

We examined a plethora of applications, checked customer references, researched the products extensively, debated our selections, and finally came up with the cr'me de la cr'me: 26 winners within the customer interaction space. The results will be published in two parts in order to accommodate our in-depth reviews of the winners. The complete winners' list will be published in both the September and October issues; however, we will offer the detailed write-ups in alphabetical order beginning with Alcatel this month and ending with Jacada. Next month, we'll begin our company reviews with Kanisa and end with Witness Systems.
We offer sincerest congratulations to the winners.

- Tom Keating, Chief Technology Officer & Executive Technology Editor, TMC



Alcatel Internetworking, Inc.
OmniTouch Unified Communications Suite

TMC Labs was very impressed with Alcatel's OmniTouch Unified Communi-cation (UC) suite. OmniTouch UC offers a full set of IP-based communication applications, enabling subscribers to customize, control and manage calls, messages, directories, collaboration tools and information from any location using any device and any interface.

This software suite implements a SOA (service-oriented architecture) and is based on a multitude of standards, including Java (J2EE), XML/SOAP and Web Services, VXML, SIP, RTP and RTSP. Alcatel claims this is the first product to make unified communication available as a Web Services tool for integration into third-party business applications such as sales force automation or employee portals (i.e., call log, calendars, etc.).

These new technologies, particularly XML/SOAP and Web Services, simplify and minimize the cost of this integration and maximize the interoperability with existing corporate resources and business applications. Alcatel informed us that OmniTouch has been successfully integrated with IBM WebSphere Portal server, Microsoft SharePoint Portal server, CRM applications such as Salesforce.com and Pivotal, and ERP applications such as NQI and SAP.

What's really cool is that these standards can be used in conjunction with Alcatel's IP Touch phones, which combine an integrated keyboard and a graphical display, allowing users to access applications and Web content.

Alcatel's OmniTouch UC provides flexibility to customize application development for unique business needs. OmniTouch UC is comprised of four applications that deserve a detailed description due to their unique features. The four apps include:

' My Messaging, a VXML-based unified messaging application handling non-real-time communications with a single multimedia mailbox (voice mail, e-mail and faxes). It enables remote access to e-mail via phone with text-to-speech (TTS) capabilities.
' My Phone, an XML/SOAP-based real-time communications management tool that allows a person on the move to transform any phone or multimedia PC into a business phone, complete with full telephony features such as conference calling, unified directory access and call log.
' My Assistant, a Web and VXML-based 'find-me-follow-me' call routing and permissions application that defines when, where and by whom a person is to be contacted and diverts non-urgent calls to voice mail. It screens and intelligently routes calls based on caller I.D. and time of day.
' My Teamwork, a sophisticated set of collaboration applications that facilitates conferencing and working together in real-time.

Aplicor Inc.
Aplicor CRM

The Aplicor CRM suite was developed as a pure and lightweight Internet architecture. This object-oriented, Web-based thin-client product was built from the ground up with Microsoft's .NET (C#) development environment and operates on a scalable multitier (n-tier) architecture and processing platform. The use of .NET is one of the key elements in providing a hosted user experience that is just as good as if the application was installed locally as a typical CRM application. The Aplicor CRM suite includes sales force automation (SFA), marketing management and call center support.

Aplicor claims to be the first CRM hosting provider to replace the 'one-size-fits-all' hosting model with unique systems for individual clients. Each Aplicor hosted client is afforded the same individualized processing capabilities as if the software was installed locally and for each client's exclusive benefit. Aplicor was quoted as saying, 'Unlike the current generation of hosting providers that require all clients to use the same product version and upgrade to future versions en masse, whether the clients desire those upgrades or not, Aplicor allows each client to choose when to upgrade their CRM application.'

The Aplicor solution is unique in that it's the first hosted solution to be functionally equivalent to the prevalent client/server or on-premise applications and still provide the advantages, benefits and capabilities of the hosted model. One of the oft-discussed drawbacks of the hosted model is the perception that users must navigate upward or downward through a series of pages in order to change account views or functions. To excel in ease-of-use delivery and earn quick user adoption, Aplicor pioneered one-click-access navigation throughout the application. This allows the user to leap from one account record to another in a single keystroke and offers the ability to go anywhere in the system without first having to back out of multiple screens.

In fact, we saw a demo of the product and we liked how the interface emulates the experience of a Windows application rather than a typical browser interface. Its ease-of-use features include user-defined tree and hierarchical structures, drag-and-drop data placement (very cool), visual queues such as color-coding intelligence, a progressive three-level help engine (functional help, page-level help and field-level help) and online self-paced tutorials.

The user interface also allows simple and quick modification so users may customize menus, tables and forms for individuals, roles or groups. For example: menus, tables and fields can be removed if they don't apply to certain users, or can be modified to display only those portions that do apply to each type of user. These are features typical of a CPE software application, not a hosted application.
Another unique feature is Aplicor's online test drive (a 'try it before you buy it ' program), as well as the absence of long-term contracts that are often associated with hosted CRM solutions. When TMC Labs discovered that the complete Aplicor solution is provided for $89.00 per user per month and includes customer support services, our jaws nearly hit the floor! This product is not only innovative, but it is certain to make some waves in the CRM industry with such a fabulous price point.

AT&T BusinessDirect

Who would have thought that a traditional phone company would open its network for access using Internet technology and standards for customer self-service provisioning, repair requests, billing access and more? Well, times have changed, and phone companies are trying to shed their proprietary images. AT&T's BusinessDirect portfolio is a collection of powerful e-commerce, e-servicing and e-care capabilities that empower customers from all market segments to enhance productivity and reduce costs as they manage their various AT&T services and accounts. This is accomplished by giving customers hands-on control over their telecom networks. The portfolio consists of:

' Secure AT&T BusinessDirect Web Portal and its online tools, which deliver round-the-clock e-servicing capabilities;
' AT&T eBonding and AT&T eXpress Bonding, which help customers with very high volumes of e-servicing transactions to maximize productivity by eliminating manual processes such as re-keying data into a Web browser;
' AT&T BusinessDirect's single, unified portal capability, which puts more control in customers' hands. This unified portal capability enables business customers worldwide to place orders and check their status, view and analyze bills, report service problems and track them through resolution, test circuits, re-route network traffic in real-time, manage DNS records and secondary domain names and perform other customer service-related tasks online. This means there is no more waiting on hold hoping to speak to an agent, and users can perform operations themselves. Access to information such as billing in a digital (versus paper) format lets users more easily bring the data into a reporting package, Excel or other formats.

With AT&T BusinessDirect, customers can improve the accuracy of their transactions, obtain faster service ' including faster repairs and faster order fulfillment ' and enjoy convenient, round-the-clock electronic access. These capabilities help customers improve productivity, cut costs and most significantly, meet their own business needs more effectively.

One excellent feature is that it shows customers a graphical map view of their entire network, integrated with ordering, maintenance, inventory and status capabilities. Simply point and click to manage any of your AT&T network nodes. In addition, BusinessDirect offers AT&T eBonding, a breakthrough capability that enables large enterprise customers to simplify inventory management, maintenance and ordering via direct computer links using eXtensible Markup Language (XML) over SOAP interface. It links the customer's ordering, inventory and maintenance systems directly into AT&T's provisioning, repair and inventory systems, thereby ensuring faster and more accurate service delivery, repair and billing.

Call Compliance, Inc.
TeleBlock Do-Not-Call
Blocking System

TMC Labs has never been known to become too excited over technologies that implement the national and/or state do-not-call (DNC) lists ' give us a cool VoIP phone with presence or PDA with GPS any day! However, we do realize the extraordinary importance of implementing this sort of technology to avoid liability and hefty fines for non-compliance. This technology is especially important to service agencies, particularly outbound telemarketing organizations.
To ensure compliance, you need look no further than Call Compliance's TeleBlock. It has been commercially available for over five years, and the end-user telemarketing community has been incredibly receptive to the idea of a network-based DNC solution delivered via telephone lines and trunk groups. TeleBlock requires no additional hardware or software at the customer premise and is customized and managed by subscribers on their own behalf. The system uses Signaling System 7 (SS7) and Internet Protocol (IP) technologies, so there is no logging in or logging off required. An optional module called VoIPBlock works with Voice Over IP providers and works on all VoIP telephones, ATA adaptors and other IP applications.

The beauty of TeleBlock, as it relates to end-user subscribers, is that it functions the same way for a Fortune 1000 client as it does for a small office/home office (SOHO) client. One alternative to this blocking technology is list management or list scrubbing. List management firms do not physically screen and block calls in real-time across a subscriber's enterprise. They use a technique called 'scrubbing' which was designed for calling efficiency and the targeting of specific geographic regions and/or demographics (and not for DNC compliance purposes). Scrubbing allows a subscriber to cleanse a calling list against available federal, state, third-party and in-house do-not-call lists prior to running a calling campaign.

Besides the 'human element' of having to manually scrub a list, a major flaw associated with such a process is the continually changing nature of do-not-call lists. Any delay, minimal or substantial, can render a scrubbed list non-compliant. Larger firms utilizing this process must manage a number of satellite offices and outsourced call centers contracted to call on their behalf. These entities must clean their lists, distribute them across the corporation and/or to contracted calling parties and run the cleansed calling campaigns each time additional do-not-call numbers become available. With TeleBlock, subscribers do not have this concern. Regardless of whether an organization runs a campaign two days, two weeks or two months later, TeleBlock will still screen and block calls to numbers on available DNC lists in real-time.


Many readers have probably heard of WebTrends, which is a provider of Web ana-lytics for measuring and analyzing a Web site's trends, traffic, favorite links, demographics, etc. Consider the possibilities if there existed similar analytics that included not only Web, but other communication methods such as IVR, speech systems and enterprise applications such as ERP and CRM.

We were impressed with ClickFox (and we like the name, too), which has the ability to translate complex customer interactions across multiple self-service channels ' such as interactive voice response (IVR), speech recognition, Web sites, kiosks and customer relationship management (CRM) systems ' into fact-based decisions that optimize channel and cross-channel business performance. By using the ClickFox customer behavior intelligence system, companies can dramatically reduce operational costs, improve customer satisfaction and revenue generation and enhance the overall interactive customer experience.

ClickFox software is unique from that of competitors such as WebTrends in its ability to map customer interactions to a business-relevant model of the system, pinpointing customer successes and failures. ClickFox claims to be the industry's first customer behavior intelligence solution for optimizing self-service systems. It provides users with the ability to visualize the 'big picture' of the customer's experience, not just a small sample. One really interesting feature is that it uses patented artificial intelligence and heuristics algorithms to recommend improvements in customer-facing systems. It also provides the ability to optimize across customer interactive channels, including IVR, Web and CRM (rather than focusing on each separately).

Most current tools provide only volume and traffic statistics. ClickFox provides strategic insight that static reports cannot, while improving the ability to align system goals with business objectives. ClickFox takes the guesswork out of understanding customers' needs, not by doing random surveys or usability studies, but through an automated, aggregate look at actual behavior.

Contact Center Compliance

DNCScrub provides client access to a sophisticated application that manages, on the client's behalf, the federal do-not-call registry, all state DNC lists, the Wireless Database (including daily updates on wireless portability data), Canada TPS, DMA TPS, the client's internal DNC list(s), the client's existing business relationship database, branded DNC policy for each client project and complete state and federal DNC exemption support (including applicable preemptions) for vertical market exemptions.

An example of a vertical market exemption: newspaper sellers are exempt from the Florida state DNC list but not the federal list containing Florida residents. An example of proper preemption application is in Indiana, no existing business relationships (inquiry or sale) are recognized, therefore the system will not honor EBR records in that state because federal law is less restrictive than the state law.
The DNCScrub product is unique because it is not a merge/purge mechanism; rather, the system is intelligent. It 'knows' state and federal law including state and federal exemptions, EBR durations and vertical industry exemptions available to clients. The system understands the relationships between a client's EBR database and the state laws that apply to that type of a campaign as well as how it is affected by other databases such as internal DNC lists.

Clients simply check a set of boxes to inform the system what type of project is being undertaken. For example, if the box is checked indicating this is a telephone company offer, the DNCScrub system knows the state of Idaho does not recognize any EBR exemption; as a result, when processing data, the system removes prohibited records under that state's law.

The Contact Center Compliance solution can use e-mail technology to allow clients to receive an e-mail on the DNC.com server from an authorized party and automatically scrub the attached zip or text file, forwarding it to whomever is on their distribution list. One innovative feature is SmartSniffer, which allows clients to submit data in any format. The system is able to take any text or zip file (password included) and the system will 'sniff out' the phone number and scrub it, relieving the client of the burden of formatting the data prior to submission.



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