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SIP, IP to alter call center landscape

The rise of IP technology is set to radically change how call centres operate and the types of services they provide, according to a panel of experts who spoke recently at the Voice On The Net Canada...


May 1, 2005  


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The rise of IP technology is set to radically change how call centres operate and the types of services they provide, according to a panel of experts who spoke recently at the Voice On The Net Canada conference in Toronto.

The panelists, Tom Chang, senior director of sales engineering with CosmoCom Inc., Tracy Fleming, national IP telephony practice leader for Avaya Canada Corp. and Tim Hewson, business manager with the customer contact solution division at Nortel Networks Ltd., told delegates the transformation is occurring quickly.

Chang said that voice over IP is a disruptive technology that will eventually wipe out the traditional call centre that exists today.

An example of that is the Communications Services for the Deaf, a non-profit organization based in Sioux Falls, S.D. that provides an assortment of services to people who are hearing impaired.

The CosmoCom customer has established a contact centre, which uses telecommunications and video relay services technology that allows someone who is deaf to use sign language to communicate with interpreters. They in turn, relay the messages to call centre staff.

“IP lends itself to location independence,” said Chang. “If you have multiple locations or agents who are working at home it doesn’t matter. It’s not like the old world where agents all had to be in the same room.”

IP may create a more seamless centre, but it will be Session Initiation Protocol or SIP that will take it to another level, predicted Hewson. Fleming added that it will fundamentally change the landscape, not just in call centres, but telecommunications in general.

“The industry is moving towards a software-centric model and it’s time that we all stepped up and jumped on that bandwagon,” he said.

A Nortel white paper released last year stated that through SIP, it is possible to establish multimedia collaborative sessions between people dispersed in several different locations and using devices as diverse as a cell phone, PC and set-top enabled television.

“The world is going to be changing,” said Hewson. “Different applications are going to be sprouting up all over the place because of IP protocols, SIP and all the media types it is going to be able to handle.

“It is possible to have a traditional TDM environment and IP-enable the PBX as it exists today in order to have remote workers. If the quality of service drops for whatever reason, it will immediately switch over to the TDM network. These technologies exist to help companies move to IP.”

During a question-and-answer session, Bruce Kennedy, marketing manager for contact centres with Aliant Inc. in Saint John, N.B., said that in order to maximize the capabilities of SIP, organizations will need the help of a professional services team in order to experience its true potential.

“Coming up with a better widget and throwing it on to the market is not the way to drive this,” said Fleming. “This is not about coming up with a better transport mechanism, it’s about business transformation.”