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April 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 4
The Zippy Files

Aspect Software Brings Unified Communications to Contact Centers

The first thing I learned when I entered the computer telephony field in 1994 was that the principal way the industry made money was by building call centers. And the acknowledged masters of mission-critical call center technology were the folks over at Aspect (News - Alert) Telecommunications in San Jose, California, now called Aspect Software.

Founded in 1985, Aspect first attracted attention to itself with its superlative Automatic Call Distribution system, upon which they built successive generations of sophisticated, feature-laden communications systems for the world’s blue-chip call centers. Around the time I first encountered them, Aspect CallCenter Release 5 was out and Release 6 was in the works, a single-switch solution for all sorts of call operations. Even then it was capable of handling up to 100,000 busy hour calls, along with the inbound and outbound processing of calls, faxes, and email, sophisticated IVR and voice messaging and software agents to provide expanded resources and process automation, the ability to network multiple Aspect CallCenters and operate them as a single site and support for remote clusters of agents and call center personnel working at home. (And oh yes, the company had cool “Aspect Teal” furniture – their corporate color at the time.)

And now, Aspect Software, Inc., the world’s largest company solely focused on the contact center, has announced that it’s bringing today’s hottest communications concept, Unified Communications (News - Alert) (UC), to the call center, in the form of Aspect’s all-in-one, IT-ready Aspect Unified IP (its comprehensive SIP-based VoIP unified contact center solution) and their PerformanceEdge (News - Alert) contact center optimization suite. Aspect is also going on a campaign to educate the market on the critical role the contact center must play in the development of an organization’s overall UC strategy.

Their new approach takes into account the fact that 10 percent of all customer interactions must be taken outside the traditional boundaries of the contact center and into the enterprise to be properly addressed. That means that somebody has to develop a way so that call center agents can determine which outside expert or knowledge worker is best able to help resolve a customer call and boost first-call resolution, then figure out if they are available for consultation and how to reach them in a seamless manner using a particular favored communications device. Moreover, someone also has to develop a way to record those calls for quality of service and provide reports to track how well the whole process is working.

As it happens, the “somebody” who developed all of this functionality is Aspect Software.

Aspect will release new versions of Aspect Unified IP and PerformanceEdge to deliver interoperability with UC software products to enhance collaboration between the enterprise and the contact center. Subsequent Aspect Unified IP releases will enable organizations to route interactions to enterprise experts based on presence and willingness, generate enterprise-level reports of these interactions, and utilize workforce management to forecast expert demand.

And as we went to press, Microsoft (News - Alert) announced that it’s making an equity investment in Aspect Software as part of a global strategic alliance. Aspect will ensure that its IP contact center solution interoperates with Microsoft’s platform for unified communications.

And Aspect Software is showing us the way, not just with their products but with marketing campaigns, its “Contact Center: Unplugged” blog, an updated website, and educational tools like white papers, web seminars and training. For more information, visit IT

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC (News - Alert)’s IP Communications Group.

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