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October 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 5
Awards & Recognition

Customer Interaction Solutions TMC (News - Alert) Labs Innovation Awards 2008

This is our ninth installment of the TMC Labs Innovation Awards recognizing the truly unique and innovative products and services within the contact center industry. TMC Labs proudly bestows a TMC Labs Innovation Award on 20 deserving winners. The results are published in two parts in order to accommodate our in-depth write-ups for the winners. The complete winners list appears in the September and the October issues. Writeups on Aplicor through Numara Software were published in the September magazine. This month features descriptions of OAISYS through Toshiba.


OAISYS (News - Alert)’s Talkument is a voice documentation solution that documents telephone conversations through call recording and makes them available to individuals to store, organize, annotate and share with others. It centrally records telephone calls, giving secure access for users to view, search, playback, annotate, organize into folders and share with others via internal sharing technology through a single user interface.

The single rack-mountable 1U appliance unit is capable of interfacing with up to two digital trunk circuits or up to 48 PBX (News - Alert) endpoints using some form of IP recording (i.e. not digital / analog station tapping). Future enhancements will allow Talkument software included on a built-to-order server base system along with Tracer, their call center interaction management software. This configuration will be scalable to 192 ports per system.

Talkument’s strength is the ability to organize, annotate and highlight specific sections of voice conversations, which can then easily be shared without sending recording files through e-mail and using server resources. Talkument enables a library of searchable, accessible content for the entire organization.

OAISYS explained, "Historically, the utilization of call recording has largely been relegated to call center environments, whether formal or informal. As a management tool, the primary benefits of this technology were employee monitoring, evaluation, training and also reduction of liability risk. Talkument has re-invented the use of call recording to address a new business application—Voice Documentation." They added, "In the past, voice conversations and the valuable information they contained were left to vanish upon completion of a call. Bridging the gap between telephony and the desktop, Talkument facilitates accurate and efficient information transfer of voice interactions. What e-mail has done for letters and memos, Talkument does for phone calls, allowing for easier, more direct collaboration between co-workers, suppliers and clients."

Talkument utilizes a technology they call Portable Voice Document (PVD) which contains all information about a phone call, along with the audio recording and all comments that are added after the call, to be contained within one PVD file. Users can insert text annotations to further explain and clarify verbal content or to respond to a specific question within the voice document. Enhancing privacy and security, shared content can be set to expire and sharing restrictions can be included.

In the last six months, there have been improvements in Talkument including the ability to share only segments of a call with other users, a pop-up feature to notify users when someone shares a voice document with them, and recording triggers, which enable selective recording functionality.

Openet (News - Alert)
FusionWorks Policy Manager

FusionWorks Policy Manager enables providers to dynamically prioritize and control network traffic enabling service providers to create and deliver new innovative and more personalized services. Policy Manager can also make traffic management decisions based on the time of day (busy hour) and/or application type to prioritize premium content over other applications when network capacity is highest to ensure subscribers are not negatively impacted. Policy Manager enables providers to control their networks in real-time based on subscriber, service, access network, location, time, quality of service (QoS) and other parameters. It utilizes an efficient multi-threaded rules engine with synchronous and asynchronous communications resulting in latency as low as 5 to 15 ms.

It features the ability for in-session policy decisions, which enables service providers to generate and deploy subscriber-centric policy controls. The service policy control enhances the customer experience through real-time service delivery and improved quality of service on a per-subscriber, per-session or per-application basis. Services that can be charged include parental controls based on content, duration, and other criteria, bandwidth tiers, and more. It supports service enablers and external OSS and BSS systems. It leverages an easy to use web-based graphical tools and monitoring dashboards. Built on Openet’s FusionWorks Platform, Policy Manager is compliant with 3GPP, 3GPP2, Cable Labs and WiMax Forum architectures and standards for policy and charging control, and leverages IP Multimedia Subsystem (News - Alert) (IMS) as a reference architecture. Service providers looking to monetize their networks and offer value-added services should check out this innovative solution.

Premiere Global Services (News - Alert)
Accounts Receivable Management

Call collections may not be the sexiest topic in contact centers, but it is critical technology component and crucial to the financial lifeblood of any business. Premiere Global’s Accounts Receivable Management (ARM (News - Alert)) solutions help to ensure a continuous supply of revenues by offering proactive communications solutions on their hosted platform. Premiere Global is a hosting service provider whose platforms contain a variety of communication technologies including e-mail, SMS, automated speech recognition, Internet protocol (IP) fax, Web and audio conferencing, mobile and other technologies. Its Web portal PGiConnect.com enables customers to use the applications directly from their desktop or mobile device. Its ARM functionality is powered by their Premiere Global Communications Operating System (PGiCOS). It offers open standards access to these applications via its Premiere - Connect API suite, enabling customers to integrate PGiCOS directly into their enterprise applications, such as ERP, CRM, and human resources systems.

One of the ARM solutions’ claims to fame is how it can accelerate communications and payment at each stage of the billing cycle. For instance, for billing and invoicing you can use notifications to send bills and invoices to customers faster; distribute bills via broadcast voice, email, fax or SMS message — with options for voicemail and answering machines. Additionally, it features payment reminders to remind customers when payments are due or past due using reminder communications in the format your customers prefer. It also includes automated dunning activities to notify customers of the past due status of a bill or invoice. It also includes built-in automated payment features to help customers pay you faster without agent intervention. Further it features comprehensive profile and call management features customized to your specific needs and requirements. Importantly, Premiere Global offers Web-based reporting and analytics to track campaign effectiveness. Premiere Global complies with type II SAS (News - Alert) 70, HIPAA, GLBA, Sarbanes-Oxley, Safe Harbor, SB-1386, and similar regulations.

Messages are delivered over VoIP, SIP, and PSTN, and clients can connect to the Premiere Global Communications operating system using protocols such as SMTP, FTP(S), HTTP(S), and XML/SOAP 1.1. The platform’s voice component supports transfer, authentication, barge-in, advanced scripting, call management, call pacing, recorded message detection and work-around, retry and resend, Whisper technology, and enhanced PAMD (positive answering machine detection). The system has call management features and can pace calls, in effect acting as a Web-based auto dialer. The company’s intelligent mass dialing network supports outbound campaigns without the need for additional hardware. Other features include advanced scripting, answering message detection, and whisper technology, which tells the operator who is on the line before actually connecting the call to the operator. Over the last six months, Premiere Global has enhanced its text-to-speech technology and customized call pacing features.

Prosodie Interactive
Pro VACD 3.0
Prosodie Interactive offers a Virtual Automated Call Distributor called Pro VACD 3.0 which enables skills-based routing of inbound calls. They provide a virtual administrator and agent screen for real-time remote management. Their hosted service only requires a phone connection and a browser at the customer premise. All of the call routing is handled by VACD 3.0. Prosodie was one of the industry’s first Virtual ACD solutions and uniquely they work very closely with their customers to customize and fulfill the client’s specific needs.

Some powerful features include traffic over flow manager, online call detail search, a personalized view gate queue ticker; call recording and real-time call monitoring. Prosodie claims to be one of the first companies to take these features to market and provide contact center managers the tools necessary to manage a remote working organization.

Prosodie told TMC Labs, "Our consultative approach to our clients has been repeatedly validated as a major reason for our success." One innovative feature they explained to us - "We have a built in capacity buffer for our clients to utilize and they are only charged if they do so. This allows a company who averages a set amount of calls a day to compensate for a spike in traffic."

Benefits include the ability to handle peak periods & provide 24/7 service, increased efficiency, and the ability to seamlessly route calls to multiple contact centers & home based agents. Pro VACD 3.0 provides flexibility for agents to pick up and drop shift. Core features include call queuing and routing, skills-based call routing, prioritized call routing, DNIS assignment of agent groups, unlimited number of agent groups, toll free call answering, and custom messages created for each DNIS. Supervisory features for monitoring & evaluating agent/system performance is available, as well as dashboard display in real-time of agent/call data.

RingCentral (News - Alert)
RingCentral Online 5.0
RingCentral Online is a hosted-PBX service that integrates PSTN, mobile, e-mail, voicemail, fax, SMS, VoIP and the Internet, employing patent-pending message synchronization algorithms as well as voice-chat and click-to-call technology. RingCentral targets small and home-based businesses, mobile "road warriors" and independent contractors to offer a comprehensive communications platform to help stay in touch with your customers and critical information.

RingCentral provides a complete virtual phone system for small businesses by integrating landline, VoIP, cellular, email, voicemail and fax with a powerful web interface. RingCentral combines a toll-free or local number with advanced call management, PBX, voicemail and Internet fax, enabling customers to set up multiple extensions with voicemail, automatically screen, forward and place calls, take voicemail, send and receive faxes, and receive message alerts.

RingCentral’s DigitalLine is their proprietary hosted VoIP service. You can assign Digital- Line to any extension in your account and use answering rules to route calls to Digital- Line phones according to day, time and Caller ID. A unified call log keeps track of all incoming and outgoing calls.

The enhanced Call Controller with Soft- Phone enables you to answer and place calls directly from the PC, conference calling, and recording calls. The Call Controller application features screen pop-ups that includes a caller audio preview and caller ID, so users can screen before deciding how to handle the call. One very innovative feature is that subscribers can reply to callers by typing a message that is converted to audio using text-to-speech technology – which can also be played as a custom greeting for incoming calls. For missed or ignored calls, RingCentral also includes a feature that notifies users of their messages by phone, text or email. RingCentral features and easy to use web interface, enabling users to configure and manage their own virtual phone system, including extensions, a dial-by-name directory, call forwarding, auto call distribution, call screening and voicemail.

RingCentral also provides an auto attendant and extensions for individual employees, who have personalized dashboards to manage inbound calls. Each extension can be programmed with its individual call-forwarding rules. The RingOut click-to-call out feature allows customers to return calls instantly or highlight a number on a Web page or application and click it to call. Another feature, RingMe is a click-to-call button that customers can embed within their Web sites and email signatures. RingCentral Fax is another powerful feature which includes a toll free or local fax number, which can receive faxes in a recipient’s email inbox as well as in a customer’s Web-based RingCentral account.

Salesforce to Salesforce
Salesforce to Salesforce, a 100 percent web SaaS application, was developed as a way for salesforce.com’s customers to connect and share data with their partners on-demand. Salesforce.com (News - Alert) proudly claims that this product has been coined the "Facebook™ of the Enterprise," a service that allows any two Salesforce customers to be able to securely connect and share information with zero integration required. With Salesforce to Salesforce, companies can choose which channel partners, (currently numbers 43,000 users) within the salesforce.com community, that they would like to share information with.

You can easily send invites and accept invitations to start sharing data immediately with suppliers, vendors, partners, and customers that also use Salesforce. Send branded e-mail invitations to business partners and set up trusted, secure datasharing connections and once invitations are accepted, share data immediately. It features a customizable publishing model, allowing companies to opt in and decide what object types to share - leads, opportunities, accounts, contacts, tasks, or custom objects – providing users with a secure connection to share only the data that their business partners need. Companies can pick and choose - right to the field level - what updates they want to receive from connections. The process of selecting objects and fields to subscribe to is done with the simple click of a button, and requires no coding. Salesforce to Salesforce enables users to share data and collaborate on business-sensitive processes while simultaneously giving them real-time visibility into updates being performed by their partners, customers, and vendors.

Salesforce Ideas and Salesforce Content were added in the June Salesforce Summer ’08 release. Salesforce Ideas enables customers to tap into the innovative power of their customer, partner or employee communities by allowing them to post, discuss, and vote on ideas. Salesforce Content allows companies to securely share, manage, and collaborate on business content such as documents and presentations. Salesforce.com explained it best when they told us, "With Salesforce Ideas, companies can leverage the knowledge and expertise of their partners in designing better products, providing better services and making better decisions overall. With Salesforce Content, companies can tag (News - Alert) relevant information for their partners, such as marketing documents or sales sheets, helping them to filter through the most current and relevant content for their partners. These features empower Salesforce to Salesforce customers to work more closely and securely with any company or group they do business with: partners, suppliers, resellers, vendors, distributors, agents, brokers, or customers. This ultimately builds the foundation for strengthening their business relationships, generating more value from the information being shared and opening the lines of communication within the channel partner network."

ShoreTel (News - Alert), Inc.
ShoreTel 8.0
www.shoretel.com ShoreTel is an early VoIP pioneers amd one of the first to offer an IP-based PBX. ShoteTel 8.0 enables companies to seamlessly integrate all communications-voice, data, messaging-with their business processes. ShoreTel’s features a distributed software architecture that scales seamlessly from 1 to 10,000 users including PBX, voice mail, and automated attendant functions.

ShoreTel 8.0 now enables users to integrate all forms of communication, including video, with business processes. In release 8.0, Unified Communications (News - Alert) (UC) capabilities are greatly enhanced, offering streamlined business communications and more intuitive access to fully integrated voice, instant messaging, e-mail and video. ShoreWare Call Manager’s desktop user interface offers tabbed windows that make users more productive by making it easier to access voicemail, call history, directories and the speed dial list. ShoreTel’s new ShoreWare Professional Call Manager supports easyto- use, high-quality video: up to 640x480 resolution and up to 30 frames per second. The Professional Call Manager also provides presence information and consolidates instant messaging with voice, video and e-mail for a true unified communications experience. Call Manager is a fully-featured softphone which allows users to make or receive calls from their PC or laptop.

ShoreTel’s UC system also now includes built-in support for SIP endpoints, devices, and applications that comply with RFC 326, giving customers flexibility and choice in what SIP devices their businesses require. ShoreTel claims to be the first leading unified communications vendor to deliver a product that takes advantage of the most recent enhancement to the H.264 standard for video compression: Scalable Video Coding (SVC), enabling high-quality desktop video. For redundancy, ShoreTel uses an N+1 model for the ShoreTel voice switches.

Additional applications and features include Legal & Professional Cost Recovery Application as well as E911 Notification Application. E911 Notification Application supplements the native E911 support built into the ShoreTel system. This application provides site administrators with an extra level of oversight and security by automatically alerting them with audible desktop screen pops and by placing notification calls to all configured phone numbers when a 911 event is detected on the ShoreTel system. Other innovative features include a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration application, ShoreTel NetSuite (News - Alert) Integration application, ShoreTel Salesforce.com Call Center Adapter, and the ShoreTel Web Dialer Application.

Siemens Enterprise Communications (News - Alert)
HiPath ProCenter

Siemens HiPath ProCenter Enterprise represents their core solution in the OpenScape Contact Center portfolio. The portfolio of solutions, all based on a single code base targets contact centers ranging from 10 to 7,500 active agents giving Siemens (News - Alert) a broad market reach. The Siemens HiPath ProCenter Enterprise solution includes intelligent routing, full multimedia automatic call distribution, historical and real-time reporting desktop tools for managers and supervisors, agent desktop applications with screen-pop, presence and collaboration capabilities. A complete Software Developers Toolkit (SDK) is available and Siemens offers published, open interfaces for extensive integration with third party solutions.

Siemens owns the patent for their innovative skills based routing, which was first patented by Siemens in the early 1990s, known as ResumeRouting, and includes a unique algorithm that drives calls to unique skill sets and skill levels on a per agent profile basis based on dynamic virtual groups and call-by-call queuing with predictive capabilities for all media types. The solution is also based on 3rd party CTI (News - Alert)-based call control functionality. The solution is built on a SOA-based architecture and offers open virtualized contact center functionality.

The platform features strong presence capabilities enabling agents to assist with various customer interactions including voice, email, Web chats, and more. Additionally, support for Jabber and Sametime instant messaging is available. Unified communications and a standards-based approach is at the very core of Siemens offering. Siemens told us, "At Siemens we believe that incorporating the breadth of Unified Communications capabilities as part of the matrix of core contact center offerings will drive even greater achievements in improved customer satisfaction, higher FCR and simultaneously drive lower total cost of ownership for our customers while delivering the most rapid ROI – a unique position in the industry." Desktop tools can be used for real-time monitoring, quality control, workforce optimization, improved workflow and performance reporting along with advanced multi-media and UC capabilities. The desktop Design Manager is a graphical user interface that allows contact center customers to control their call flows and multimedia designs, which can be done on the fly. The Agent Desktop application features screen-pop of contact details for all media types, real-time PC-wallboard display, tear-off and park toolbars and customization by the user, built-in presence and collaboration features, and personal performance statistics.

Soffront Software, Inc.
Soffront CRM Version 8.7

Soffront Software targets mid-size businesses with their midmarket CRM product called Soffront CRM Version 8.7, a hosted or customer premise offering which features sales automation, marketing automation, customer service, knowledge base, order processing, help desk, defect tracking, project management and more. The Soffront CRM application is completely web-based and can be deployed very quickly.

Soffront includes an innovative built in code generator to generate codes from customer’s specification of forms using a visual form designer. A completely WYSIWIG web-based CRM form designer makes development very easy. You have the ability to delete database fields, tables, and forms (in addition to hiding them from user). It also features a two-dimensional user configurable CRM matrix reports for "what if " analysis. A fully automated campaign engine with the ability to schedule campaign execution is included.

Softfront (News - Alert) told TMC Labs, "Soffront has been the first to offer zero footprint web clients, first to introduce web based form designers, form code generators, web based scripting options, graphical workflow editors, CRM business automation rule engines, configurable CRM Portals. The new version 8.7 takes CRM automation to new heights with its fully configurable web-based automation rules engine, completely minimizing the need for scripting."

Soffront also provides a point and click visual SQL query builder that does not require the knowledge of SQL language to build very complex queries joining multiple tables. Soffront report engine is very powerful allowing users to create numerous types of text, graphical, funnel and Gantt charts. Soffront 8.7 the latest version adds multi-currency support, enhanced calendaring and group scheduling, recurring activities and opportunities, new email enhancements, and Google Maps integration.

Toshiba (News - Alert) America Information Systems, Telecommunication Systems Division
Strata ACD IP Call Center Solution with Net Phone Presence
Toshiba’s Strata ACD is an IP call center solution designed for small- to medium-sized enterprises or larger corporate users with multiple sites. Available with Toshiba’s new Net Phone 6.0, it offers a host of Presence features that deliver powerful presence capabilities for call center agents, supervisors, and other users. It is compatible with Toshiba’s Strata CIX IP family of business communication solutions. The Net Phone 6.0 features include a Presence Viewer and an ACD Viewer that shows real-time status of the Call Center, including phone status (idle, busy, or do not disturb), status message (shows status set by Net Phone such as canned such as ‘in meeting," as well as text entered by the user), chat status (shows if Net Phone is launched and agent is online to accept chat requests). Further, you can click to initiate a call or request chat with agents. Collaboration tools including Chat and/or Whiteboard, implemented directly from the Presence window.

The platform supports an optional built-in VoIP softphone. Strata CIX IP Mobility compatibility allows users to switch from the Net Phone VoIP to the IP telephone or the SoftIPT soft phone on a laptop computer. The voice connection is changed to the selected telephone, while the Net Phone can still provide the screen pop and control the telephone. It offers screen pop, and desktop call control such as drag and drop transfer and conference capabilities. Importantly, it offers personal call handling rules so users are contacted how and when they wish. Advanced call routing is available to direct calls based on caller ID, account numbers, private lists, balanced call count, preferred agent treatment, agent priority, time-of-day, day-of-week, dayof- year, and user-entered data.

Other powerful features include skillsbased routing, priority queuing, and the ability to inform callers of their place in the queue or estimated time before answer, as well as offering alternative actions such as going to voice mail or a call back. IVR Voice Assistant gathers and validates caller input, triggers responses, and can alert agents when queue is overloaded. Call Recording and Logging enables calls to be recorded, stored, organized, searched and played back.

Toshiba Strata ACD resides on the Toshiba Strata Media Application Server (MAS), which integrates all ACD and reporting, voice mail/unified messaging, IVR, text-to-speech, speech recognition, video conferencing/collaboration, CRM, and other value-added applications and capabilities on a single integrated platform. This integrated approach reduces the TCO and mitigates any integration issues that plague multiple server or multiple vendor solutions.

Toshiba explained, "One of the reasons Toshiba’s Strata ACD application can run so efficiently on a Media Application Server concurrently with other applications is the use of Host Media Processing (HMP) technology. This not only provides processing efficiency but eliminates the need to use expensive Dialogic (News - Alert) voice boards in the server, providing additional cost savings."

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