Perhaps nowhere is the great potential of voice and data convergence -- and the difference between it and older technologies -- laid out as clearly as in the contact center.
It's clear that IP is taking over the contact center quickly. And with good reason. For one thing, consolidating communications on an IP network means that all methods of interacting with the customer -- voice, fax, instant messaging and even video -- are together in one package. Generally, the means of communications are choices on a customer service representative's screen. Replicating that in the old-fashioned time division multiplexed (TDM) environment is a technical nightmare.
That's not all. The use of an IP network to support the contact center makes geographical locale essentially meaningless. A group of customer service representatives linked in a logical network can work as a team, no matter where they are. The next continent is as good as the next desk, outside of the inherent advantages of human contact.
It's so flexible that broadband IP technology, carried by cable modems or DSL, can enable people to work as customer service representatives from home.
The real impact becomes clear when you step back from the technology and think of what it all means. In the past, contact centers were highly structured affairs. Clearly, companies may still want this to be the case. But if they do, it's for human -- not technical -- reasons.
IP technology has completely flattened this top-down infrastructure and in its place created a flexible and dynamic structure that optimizes the chances that a sale will be made or an existing customer satisfied.
Contact centers get our vote as the clearest real-world example of how revolutionary IP-based convergence technology can be harnessed to completely transform the way business is done.