Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

CTI Group to Discuss Contact Center Solutions at ITEXPO

August 28, 2008

CTI Group, a developer of wireless and VoIP recording, analysis and invoice management applications, announced on Tuesday that CTO Sid Rao will present a session titled, "Technology Considerations for Contact Center Evolution" at TMC's upcoming ITEXPO in Los Angeles.

With many contact centers hesitant about changing to an IP-based telephony package, Rao will address these concerns during his session at the ITEXPO. He will also discuss the benefits of IP telephony for the contact center industry, including flexibility, cost advantages, and enhanced features that the IP telephony market has to offer.
In advance of CTI Group’s appearance at the ITEXPO, I had the opportunity to have several of my questions answered by Rao.
RT: What is the biggest trend you are seeing in the contact center space?
SR: The biggest trend I see in the contact center space is the switch from large TDM packaged contact center solutions to lower cost, highly commoditized VoIP solution sets.  A few years ago, you could get all of the solutions you needed with one large contact center package.  But today, when you Google for the same solution you will see a Phonality box that for $2000 more you can get a complete ACD and routing management. The trend is moving more toward a skills-based routing package than the earlier, large TDM packages. 
The market has shifted from trying to serve the 500-1000 seat contact center space to serving the needs of the small business.  The high end contact center space is out of reach for most vendors and most contact center managers. The market is turning more focus on the smaller contact centers as the market to focus on since the larger contact center market is currently saturated.
RT: What should contact center decision makers know before upgrading their systems?
SR: The number one thing that contact center decision makers need to look at when making a decision to upgrade their system would be to look at the quality of the solutions they are comparing.  They need to look at what features and functionality their traditional solution offered and do a true gap analysis comparing the new system with old.
RT: Where is the most call center growth taking place – U.S. or abroad?
SR: As we all know, the trend used to be to send contact centers off shore. However, that trend has really started to slow down for two major economic reasons.  First, the quality of service that the customers were receiving was not as high as they need it to be. Second, it really didn't scale well for the small business and the smaller contact center market is the fastest growing.
RT: How is UC changing the contact center space?
SR: Unified communications does have an impact on the contact center space.  But, it's not really focused on the mobility and collaboration and storage that you get with traditional UC enterprise integration; it's more about the CRM. So, it used to be that only Fortune 500 companies could route specific calls to specific areas based around certain CRM modules that Cebil or IBM provided. But, now we are starting to see smaller companies integrate and Sugar and other CRM solutions with their contact center solutions, so advanced routing capabilities and advanced kill space capabilities are being built in the CRM package and unified with their contact center module, making it available to the smaller and mid-market business.
RT: Is Web integration in contact centers finally happening?
SR: No, it should, but most of the contact center customer relation management is still on mainframes. Most contact center architecture is still monolithic. So, they haven't even reached the point where they are using Internet-based CRM solutions, much less Web site integration. So, Web-based self-care, etc. is not even there yet.
RT: How is Microsoft’s entrance into the market changing it?
SR: Microsoft's entrance into the market is really an effort to try to get rid of Phonality. Microsoft's Response Point Solution is not a real competitor. What Microsoft has done is very similar to what Cisco has done with their CCM Express.
RT: What about Web 2.0 – is it changing the contact center space?
SR: Web 2.0 has the ability to change the contact center space - to make it richer so that when somebody pulls up that pop on their screen they have 20-30 data sources put together. The danger is that Web 2.0 today is a like a playground with no real credible application yet being deployed in the contact center space because contact centers are meant to run 99 percent of the time. Web 2.0 is not designed to run 99 percent of the time. That is one of the challenges that Web 2.0 has in the contact center space.
RT: What is one surprise we will see in the contact center space in the next year?
SR: The whole hosted contact center space is going to move away from this whole $50 or $75 per seat market, down to more like a $20 - $30 per seat market. I see that it is going to go down quite a bit and quite effectively and to the discouragement of many service providers. Enterprises are going to require that they provide it with their basic phone system and it's not going to sell at $50 per seat, which is going to surprise a lot of people on here.
RT: Why should people come to hear you speak at Call Center 2.0 and what will you be discussing?
SR: I will be discussing, on a panel with a few of my peers, the challenges and benefits associated with transitioning from a TDM-based to an IP-based contact center. Many contact centers have apprehension about changing to an IP-based telephony package due to security concerns and fear of the unknown. We will address these concerns as well as discuss the benefits, including flexibility, cost advantages, and enhanced features that the IP telephony market has to offer.

Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor-in-Chief of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world�s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.

Edited by Michelle Robart