Contact Centres: Get with the Convergence Programme

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Convergence and IP technologies drive contact centre technology changes

Convergence, primarily driven by the increased acceptance of internet protocol (IP) and improved reliability, scalability and proven benefits that come with maturing product sets, is leading the changes in contact centre technology.

That’s according to the latest findings in Dimension Data’s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2007, which reveals that more than 60% of contact centres have introduced IP-based or hybrid IP PBX/ACDs – a significant increase from the 50% recorded last year.

The Report findings indicate that contact centres are gaining a better understanding of the business benefits of an IP environment. The top reason given for a move to IP is flexibility of architecture (69.0%), which is followed by cost savings (66.1%). Other reasons include compliance with corporate technology policies (31.1%), end-of-life technologies that need to be upgraded or replaced (30.1%), and improved business functionality (29.0%).

Cara Diemont, editor of the Report explains: “Convergence, in its simplest form, is the combination of previously separate entities - data and telephony systems, networks and equipment. Since contact centres depend on a range of information and communications technology, converged technology can significantly increase efficiencies. Benefits include allowing agents to handle contacts, access customer information more quickly and, more importantly, enable contacts to be handled throughout the organisation.”

The Report findings also show increased usage in two technologies strongly impacted by convergence – computer telephony integration (CTI) and universal queues. Over half of contact centres (53.4%) currently use CTI while 23.3% are planning to do so. Also, 28.0% have implemented and 15.9% plan to install universal queues.

“As a result of the move to convergence, CTI will shift from its traditional role as a proprietary solution to link disparate technologies. It will become an open standard technology incorporated in applications across the network to enable contact centre telephony functionality. CTI will continue to deliver functions such as screen pop, transfer of calls with attached data, and unique call identifiers between systems for example call recording information passed between switching and recording platforms,” explains Diemont.

“The growing adoption of CTI and universal queues illustrates that the benefits of these technologies for driving operational and service improvement are better understood. In addition, contact centres are responding to customers who increasingly want to interact with organisations using channels other than voice,” concludes Diemont.