The Way Business Is Moving published by
Issue Date: October 2007

Key technologies affecting the transition to IP in contact centres

31 October 2007

A major re-architecting of customer service technology is accelerating the deployment of IP telephony in contact centres, using enterprise software - instead of traditional PBXs and ACDs - to route and control customer interactions.
Commenting on the trend, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories outlined critical choices and recommendations for companies implementing IP contact centres at its annual G-Force user conference.
In response to the need to separate the telephony layer from the contact centre applications, Genesys unveiled its IP strategies for customer services at G-Force. Genesys highlighted the need to decouple customer service software from traditional communication devices, such as ACDs, telephony switches and IP infrastructure.
According to Genesys, the move to IP and the emergence of standards, such as SIP, enables greater flexibility to consolidate and extend customer service by applying software-based business rules to all types of customer interactions. These range from calls or instant messages to live web interactions, across all types of devices, and all types of resources such as agents in multiple contact centres, back office personnel, field representatives, virtual agents and other employees who need to interact with a company’s customers.
A recent Genesys survey of 500 contact centres found that 82% plan to deploy IP by 2009, up from less than 20% today. To enable that transition, many contact centres today are moving away from traditional older hardware approaches such as ACDs. According to Genesys, many of these enterprises are adding IP infrastructure along with customer interaction management software to extend contact centre applications across the entire enterprise through shared resources.
Genesys pioneered the separation of interaction routing from ACDs a decade ago using CTI. Using SIP, it is now further enabling the separation of the ACD from the telephony infrastructure to provide customer service as pure application software.
For contact centres, the transformation to IP provides:
* Application software that enables interaction management for voice and other interactions to be controlled using Business Rules, rather than being embedded in hardware.

* Centralisation in the corporate data centre or hosted by a managed service provider that reduces total cost of ownership and speeds deployment of new capabilities.

* Universal access enabling any employee, within the walls of the contact centre or outside (such as mobile applications for field service, or branch offices) to interact smoothly with the company’s customers.

* Multimodal interactions for innovative uses, such as sending graphical data like maps in response to voice requests, or leveraging instant messages, video and presence to transform the customer experience.
Customer service applications can be deployed in a SIP environment with standard gateways and SIP phones without any other proprietary equipment.
Alternatively, the customer service applications can be deployed on top of a softswitch providing telephony capabilities from vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Broadsoft, Cisco, Nortel, Siemens and Sonus.
In order to create a path for companies to leverage IP fully, Genesys outlined a next-generation architecture that includes the notion of making the telephony layer independent from the software and enables deployments that provide a flexible and effective migration path from traditional contact centres to IP. Genesys offered two key scenarios:
1. The first wave of IPCC applications contact centres will leverage software to create 'application mode ACDs', by replacing hardware with soft ACDs. Using CTI or SIP, an enterprise can eliminate ACDs, while still maintaining elements of its existing infrastructure.
2. Alternatively, a second wave of IP transition allows companies to more aggressively move to software only, by embracing 'dynamic SIP-based interaction management', eliminating PBX dependencies, and using either standard-based SIP phones or softphones.

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