Over the past few years, the callcenter industry has seen a conversion from closed proprietary solutions to a more open, standardsbased environment. Many believe this year will result in modest growth and predict wide-spread adoption of open standards for next year. Industry analysts have long predicted that companies would use IP networks for voice communications. However, until new applications became available there was little reason to migrate to IP for voice communications. With the emergence of open standards, a new generation of voice solutions are available, facilitating the rapid development, deployment and management of a variety of voice applications on a common infrastructure. Thus, IP telephony is a viable option.
The massive transformation occurring in the voice communications market exploits the successful development models of standardbased data communications and the Internet. Businesses no longer have to manage and maintain voice applications differently than data applications. With IP telephony, Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies are used to provision and manage traditional voice features, such as three-way calling and call forwarding, to provide contact center, voice portal and unified messaging functionality in the same manner that data applications are managed. Unlike Voiceover IP (VoIP), IP telephony is an application-focused term.
The idea of using IP to provide this functionality is not new. What has changed is the development environment in which these systems operate. With open standards, such as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), customers are able to separate the voice application software from the underlying hardware infrastructure, which allows customers to purchase and deploy best of breed solutions. In this new paradigm, telephony
functionality is provided by an application server on a company’s network and industry-standard hardware replaces expensive proprietary systems.
Open Standards Promote Innovation
The widespread emergence of SIP as a de facto standard is helping to promote the adoption of IP telephony and is delivering many economies of scale. This new approach means it is no longer necessary to tear out an old system to add functionality. Instead, open standards-based protocols reduce the scope of integration to little more than interoperability testing.
SIP has opened up the telephony field to many new developers who are now creating innovative applications that capitalize on the potential of IP telephony. This is one example of how Web technology and open standards is leading the transformation from proprietary platforms to open platforms. The adoption of SIP as a standard might be compared to the adoption of Voice XML, a standard that allows telephony applications to be developed using the technology that is used to build Web sites.
In the current deregulatory climate, service providers are looking for cost-effective ways to provide enhanced revenue generating services that make them more competitive. With IP telephony, service providers are able to leverage their existing data infrastructure and offer value added services while reducing operational and capital expenditure costs. Enterprise customers are also looking for ways to extend their investments and reduce expensive maintenance and upgrade costs. With the dawn of IP telephony, enterprises can quickly incorporate the new, innovative applications that are being developed and extend the functions of the contact center beyond the enterprise.
Giving Voice to Greater Numbers
For many enterprises, delivering voice applications to workers throughout the enterprise and beyond using IP telephony offers significant return on investment. For example, if a large financial institution wants to widen the scope of contact with customers to move beyond interactions with contact center agents, it can happen using IP telephony. Leveraging IP enables businesses to integrate voice, e-mail, the Web or other media into these interactions.
The cost of implementing such a “virtualization” scenario using a traditional voice network is prohibitive. However, the combination of IP networks with IP telephony applications makes it possible for users located anywhere on a company’s network to have access to voice and data at a fraction of the cost. Today’s commoditized hardware, including gateways between traditional voice and IP networks, media servers, and IP phones, plays an important role in widening the choices available to companies and reducing the overall cost of the solution.
IP telephony overcomes the barriers that once restricted easy access to voice and data communications within the enterprise and beyond its four walls.
Implementing this technology in your contact center results in numerous cost saving
benefits. With IP telephony, application and application infrastructure is less complex resulting in lower capital expenditures and ongoing maintenance and support costs than with traditional voice systems. Also, integration is rapid and functionality can be phased using a modular approach while virtualization makes contact center functions available to more workers. This enables companies to get more accomplished with less staff support.
Other cost saving benefits include an increase in customer loyalty because the caller is connected to the right agent at the right time and a global approach using contact center agents from around the world.
One example that demonstrates the success of this technology is adoption by CartaSi, Italy’s leading issuer of credit cards. CartaSi chose Genesys IPCC, a set of contact center applications developed from the start with multi-channel, multimedia interaction as its basis, to capitalize on the benefits of IP telephony and open systems. The financial services company was interested in carrying out a cost effective implementation while maintaining the ability to operate from one centrally controlled site, so that servers were not distributed across the system. CartaSi found that IP telephony gave it the ability to set
The benefits of implementing IP telephony now outweigh the drawbacks, and greater adoption is on the horizon. In short, this is a technology that has finally found its voice.