DSC Tech Library
CTI Computer Telephony Integration
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to CTI Telephony and 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.
Web Telephony: It’s What’s Next
By Jeanne Bayerl, director, product marketing for Alcatel’s
North American communication server business.
from the August 2004 issue of Business Communications Review, p. 63
I’m going to put a stake in the ground and claim that we, as an industry, have conquered IP telephony.
Now, I’m not saying that there are never problems with implementations, but the issues, and how to address them, are well understood: Quality of service (QOS), security, multisite resiliency, etc. We have clearly shown that we can successfully deliver telephony over an IP network to enable enterprises to reap the operational benefits of a converged voice and data infrastructure.
This is evidenced not only by the overall growth in IP telephony line shipments, but in the dramatic increase in large system deployments. In fact, the percentage of shipments of new IP telephony lines in systems with more than 400 lines grew from 17 percent in full-year 2002 to 29 percent in 1Q04, according to the market research house InfoTech.
IP telephony is a great way for branch office and remote employees to become integrally connected to the main sites, and for remote employees to increase productivity by having access to enterprise-class communications capabilities. And there is a lot of potential for the current generation of IP phones to play specific roles in the enterprise—for example, building-monitoring applications running on the phone at the guard’s desk, or productivity-enhancing tools on a high-impact executive’s phone.
But most enterprises are coming to the conclusion that the return on investment (ROI) is not there, outside of greenfield situations, to put an IP telephone on every desk. For general office employees that spend most of their time interacting with business applications on their PCs, the basic $100 to $200 IP phone is not offering a lot at this point over the current legacy phone on their desk.
So that’s where Web telephony comes in. Whereas IP telephony was based on IP networking standards (TCP, UDP, IP, RTP, H.323, etc.) to enable a convergence of voice with the IP infrastructure, Web telephony is based on Web standards (HTTP, XML, SOAP, Web services, WSDL, VXML, SIP, etc.) to enable a convergence of voice with Web-based applications (For more information on how Web technologies are being used in voice systems, see “Open Voices: Linux And VoiceXML In The Call Center,” in this issue.)
Of course, IP telephony (really voice over IP) is an important enabler of Web telephony, providing the ubiquitous infrastructure and accessibility. But that does not mean that every employee needs to have an IP phone on his or her desk in order to benefit from Web telephony. One of the powerful capabilities inherent in the concept of “the Web” is client platform independence, or the fact that Web content is available from a standard Web browser on virtually any type of device the end user chooses.
So the convergence of voice and Web-based applications might take place on an IP phone, but it might also take place on a PC or PDA or cell phone (or with VXML, any phone)—it’s up to the requirements of the individual. (Think about this one: Using the browser on the IP phone from one vendor to access communication Web services from another vendor’s communication server.)
Next Big Thing
I’m putting another stake in the ground and asserting that Web telephony is the next “big thing.” Telephony and IP went together nicely—there was a business-driven fit. I believe that open-standard Web technologies will be the enablers to bring together telephony and business applications. It’s not about the one specific killer application, or about a particular type of device winning out, but about cost-effectively integrating communications functions into whatever business applications employees use on a regular basis, and on the device of their choice.
In the past, if you wanted to bring communications capabilities into applications, you required a developer with a specialized computer-telephony integration skill-set. With Web telephony, imagine being able to walk down the hall to your Web team and asking them to enable “click to dial” on a field in a Web-based application—and it taking them about as much effort as turning the field from white to blue. (OK, a bit of an exaggeration, but not much!) Using familiar Web standards and technologies makes it a straightforward task at the upper levels (XML, SOAP, WSDL) while relying on the lower levels (HTTP) that are already in place.
Bringing the separate silo of communications together with the rest of the information systems within an enterprise is very powerful. To create efficient end-to-end business processes, data system automation can only go so far. At some point in almost every process, an exception is bound to occur that requires human intervention. For example, a customer orders a part off your website, but the purchase exceeds their credit limit. The process is stopped until someone in the finance department raises the credit limit.
The idea of converging communications with business applications is to make sure that the necessary human interaction can occur immediately to get the process back on track. And Web telephony is what is going to bring this to reality across the enterprise.