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18 March 2013
By: Danny Singer
Could it be that we are about to witness another species becoming extinct in our own lifetimes? The endangered creatures that I am referring to and which may soon go the way of the dodo and velociraptor are the traditional enterprise call centre PBX/ACD systems. It could very well be the case that their fate is already sealed.
For many years now, the received wisdom has been that any enterprise serious about their contact centre operation would first of all, before they think of anything else, invest in a state of the art, top of the range, telephone system. They would have a choice of spending large chunks of their hard earned cash with a select group of global vendors such as the Avayas, Aspects or Ciscos of this world in order to acquire a set of shiny new boxes in their data centres.
The truth of the matter is that most buyers of such equipment ended up with an extensive set of "bloatware" espousing an interminable set of features which they would never understand, let alone use. On the other hand, the things that they might actually need (such as call scripting, voice recording, advanced CTI, diallers, etc.) were never part of the deal. They came as additional extras.
The truth is that in recent years, the proliferation of VoIP, SIP and cloud systems have commoditised call centre telephony to the point where users can obtain the set of features they want at a small fraction of the cost that the traditional telephone systems would be priced at for an equivalent feature set.
The problem is that this commoditisation of telephony has made it increasingly difficult for the traditional vendors to differentiate themselves and deliver killer USPs for their channel partners in order to sustain the levels of sales required to keep them in business. Thus we entered a phony race to deliver features which are only peripheral to their core business (social media, unified comms, etc.) which add nothing to their call centre offering but simply serve to confuse matters and delay the inevitable.
It is highly likely that over the next few years we will witness a revolution in the way telephony is delivered to call centres. The demise of Nortel Networks a few years ago was only the beginning. Vendors who continue to play by the old rules will simply be swept away. The new battle lines have been drawn. It is all about the rapid delivery of integrated productivity tools and channels into the contact centre and not about obscure telephony features.