DSC Tech Library
Computer Telephony Integration
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to CTI Computer Telephony Integration software and products.
Computer Telephony Integration CTI software is a rich set of phone software library routines that enable application programs to control your phone system.
This comprehensive CTI software lets you increase employee productivity, enhance customer service and reduce costs by combining the capabilities of our PACER phone system with the custom functionality of your Windows, Unix or Web applications.
Data collected by your phone ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) or IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems can be passed to your existing PC, Unix or Web applications through our phone software.
The PACER predictive dialer can automatically call your customers and pass only connected calls to your agents. With our computer telephony software, your telephone and computer work together to provide cost-saving benefits.
Computer Telephony for the Enterprise
By Michael Sampson
The requirement for integration is reduced when an opportunity for significant market competitive advantage is found. If such a situation occurs, and it is limited to a specific time window, duplicating infrastructure may be a necessary short-to-medium term cost. However, being fully aware of the one-off and life-cycle costs of the duplicated infrastructure in advance demonstrates professional capability. In other words, the integration analysis is still required, even if the final decision will involve duplication. The business manager driving the project will be grateful for a complete understanding of the associated costs.
The second issue for consideration in this section is that of the deployment approach. As a general principle, a pilot implementation prior to enterprise deployment represents a good discipline, if for nothing else but to find and eliminate any implementation problems. However, if the proposed application is a clear business winner, integrates perfectly with the existing directory and management infrastructure, and has vocal end-user demand, move immediately to a full-scale enterprise rollout. For those projects with a less clear-cut case, where the integration is not perfect, and where some users are not enthusiastic about the project, opt for a more controlled deployment. Implement a research project alongside the technical implementation to assess for your enteprise the associated business benefits, the extent of out-of-the-box network and management system integration (and by implication what customised development will be required), and end-user feedback on the usefulness of the application. The information from the research project will provide the insight you require for making the next step in the process: full and immediate enterprise deployment; a controlled removal of the proposed application from the pilot group given its failure to meet expectations in any of the three areas; or a second pilot after appropriate modifications to the proposed solution.
One of the bigger issues dampening the move to computer telephony is organizational. Traditionally the two groups of MIS and telecoms have been separate, each with their own objectives, culture, perspectives, background, and reporting structure. Thrusting the two together can make for an ugly situation. This is an unfortunate reality, as both groups bring complementary skills to the new world of computer telephony. For example, when considering integrated messaging, the telecom people bring expertise in telephone interface design and appropriateness. This expertise provides a vital design element when married with the expertise of the MIS people for crafting the end solution. When investigating computer telephony projects, push for a project team that includes experts from both telecom and MIS, and well as business facing end users. Organizational politics are easier to handle when a group of committed project members are working towards a similar goal!
The final issue for discussion in this section is th e move to a single network for all voice and data traffic. It's imperative to leverage the full gamut of skills within your organization when looking at this new world. A joint project team combining the expertise of MIS and telecom will have the ability to investigate the issues of reliability when moving to a single network for all enterprise traffic. Also, both groups contribute skills in network sizing, backbone technology selection, and processes for switch and router upgrades. Don't forget to consider required technology changes at the client end as well. This is a definite technology area where a pilot project is the best first step.
This chapter has provided a perspective on some of the leading applications of computer telephony technology, outlining the end-user and administrator benefits, as well as specific implementation and deployment issues that require consideration when moving ahead with a computer telephony project. Bringing together the two worlds of computers and telephones creates a new set of business-enabling applications, albeit it at the cost of some proactive thinking on the behalf of the MIS and telecom groups within an enterprise.
Forrester Research (http://www.forrester.com), a Cambridge, Mass., consultancy and research house, has an excellent frameworks paper--it's called "Beyond Tactical Telecom." The essential argument is that leading businesses go beyond the use of telecommunications technology for the standard things like access, and focus instead on reinventing their internal and external capabilities with a telecom component. In the final analysis, that's what computer telephony is all about in the enterprise--combining the two world's of computers and telephones for marketplace strategic advantage. A three-way partnership between MIS, telecom and the business-line managers will prove the right mix for investigating CT opportunities.
Michael Sampson is the Managing Director of Teamlink Communications Limited, a privately-held company based in New Zealand. Teamlink works with dynamic companies wanting to leverage telecommunication-based information technology for business success. Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org