Genesys Telecommunications has staked its claim in the rapidly growing IP contact center space with the release of Genesys Express IP Contact Center (IPCC), an IP-based turnkey platform geared toward the mid-market. Earlier this year, the company released its general Genesys IP Contact Center app.
An out-of-box application, as Genesys calls it, Express IPCC is an interactive management software-based platform for converged voice and data networks. Its communication channels are tracked and controlled using intelligent, rules-based routing and do not require any third-party ACD or PBX technology, Genesys said. It also offers integration options for industry-standard voice interfaces, including legacy PSTN, IP phones, PCs and media gateways.
The application has been priced for the mid-market, John Hernandez, senior director of Mid-market Programs, told CRM Buyer Magazine. Companies in this market segment “need fast implementation and even faster results by leveraging the latest technologies, but at a price-point their budgets can tolerate.”
Targeting the Cost-Conscious
Genesys — along with a goup of disparate vendors that includes Avaya, Nortel, Interactive Intelligence, Cosmoscom and Cisco — is betting that the future direction of the contact center lies in IP. In theory, once this technology is fully deployed, it will save significant costs in the customer service process.
IP networks allow for far greater flexibility than traditional circuit-switched environments provide. For example, it is much easier to deploy remote agents – another growing trend in the contact center industry – using IP technology. Indeed, some analysts say the growing adoption of IP is the main driver behind the remote agent movement.
For these reasons, “vendors have been pushing IP for a while,” Katrina Howell, a Frost & Sullivan analyst told CRM Buyer.”During 2001 and 2002, nearly every vendor in the contact center market either introduced new IP contact center products or announced an IP strategy.”
Mid-Market Moving Fast
Now, the latest push is to offer products tailored for the mid-market space. “Small and mid-sized contact centers are the low-hanging fruit of the IP contact center market, since such centers typically have less investments in legacy infrastructure,” Howell said. Also, they are more likely to be greenfield investments (new facilities built for investors), while the enterprise market is taking more of an evolutionary approach.
The mid-market is moving fast because mid-size businesses face the squeeze of more complicated multimedia customers on one side, and more complicated virtual distribution of their skilled people on the other — “all in the context of fierce competition from larger companies,” Avaya CRM evangelist Lawrence Byrd told CRM Buyer. “A multimedia IP-based contact center becomes a key tool to reduce this pressure.”
Indeed, Howell noted that Genesys will be able “to leverage its strong multimedia capabilities in this market.”
Avaya Is a Presence
In May, Avaya introduced its Integrated Stackable Telephony product, a comparable integrated voice and data networking application designed specifically for the mid-market. It is part of Avaya’s portfolio of small and mid-size offerings, which includes IP Contact Center, an IP network-based CRM app.
Basically an end-to-end telephony and data networking application for IP networks, Avaya’s telephony product enables companies with 50 to 450 stations to install and maintain a converged voice and data IP network.
It also simplifies the management of previously separate voice and data systems, the company said, since it can be deployed as a standalone application in a remote office configuration for a multi-location enterprise and is interoperable with anexisting WAN/LAN (wide area network/local area network) infrastructure.
For all its benefits, though, IP still is perceived as an emerging and unproven technology, Howell said. However, she conceded that it is likely to become mainstream within the next few years. Concerns most often cited about this technology include reliability, voice quality, ability to integrate various contact channels, interoperability and call control.
Contact centers worried about these issues are taking a hybrid approach — meaning they have bolted on IP products and software to existing infrastructure, Howell said. Such a hybrid combo would allow a user to connect an existing switch to a server running IP software, for example.
In a practical deployment, a contact center could route circuit-switched calls to agent extensions and packet-switched calls to their PCs or IP phones.