Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The next generation of contact centre?

I wrote a couple of posts ago about what might be the future of the call centre in "The future of contact centre - Google, Salesforce, Skype & Microsoft".

I was very interested to find from feedback that I had perhaps been too modest in my predictions. I'm grateful for feedback that introduced me to Onstate. Onstate describes itself as the "New generation of call centre" and "the call centre for skype".

The idea is that you buy Onstate (or start using it on a free trial basis) as completely web based call centre. There's no need for any on-premises hardware (at least that's the pitch) and users can be added and removed relatively easily. In short, it's a bit like Webex, a web conferencing solution that works on a similar basis. The strength of Webex is that it can be bought at a departmental or on-demand level without the need to go through central IT and this has made very easy for business users to bring it into their businesses. This business model is also why Webex was acquired by Cisco last year, as it complements very strongly the idea of the network as a business enabler.

I'm not sure yet that the Webex business model will work so well for contact centre. Some of my hesitation is that key requirements (like call recording) isn't available. This isn't to say that it won't be in future, but it's absence will put off some prospective customers. Onstate does offer some very good features; reporting looks very user friendly and I do like the integration of chat and voice.

In short, I suspect Onstate is perhaps showing the future well ahead of where Google has got to. In many ways Onstate is taking 'software as a service' (SaaS) and VoIP (Voice over IP) to the logical next level and integrating the two. Interestingly, the founders of the company are ex-Cisco and ex-Geotel, so have a lot of experience of being at the leading edge of the contact centre. Geotel, for those who don't recognise the name, was bought by Cisco in 1999 and created the product that is now known as the Cisco ICM (Intelligent Contact Management). The Cisco ICM was one of those products that changed the industry, as it was a way of distributing calls between call centres with no limitations of geography or region. It makes it no great surprise to see ex-Geotel people in another highly innovative project.

It may not be fully mature yet, but I think Onstate is a clear pointer towards the future of the contact centre.

1 comment:

Simon Sharwood said...

OnState does indeed sound interesting. We've covered similar issues and technologies in my contact centre podcast - www.itradio.com.au/callcentres.
Yes ... this does seem kind of spammy, but we really have talked about unified comms in the contact centre and other stuff a fair bit!