Technologies offer more promise than actual usage right now.
Posted Jun 13, 2005
Convergence is one of the major themes at this week's Supercomm conference, and should have some positive CRM implications, according to Brian Riggs, analyst for Current Analysis. In a survey conducted by Motorola Networks at Supercomm, 49 percent of respondents put the problem of convergence at the top of their list, and 38 percent cite the ability to integrate next-gen services as the leading obstacle to effectively addressing this concern.
Many of the technologies unveiled or discussed (unveiled earlier, but moving closer to actual deployment) at the show involved the combination of voice, data, and video on wired and wireless devices. However, the promises of convergence are still just that--promises--rather than being in actual common usage today, according to Riggs.
For example, Motorola was demonstrating, among other technologies, a dual-mode phone that will enable the corporate user to communicate via VoIP or a cellular network. The device, designed for corporate users, also includes IP PBX capabilities. By enabling technicians and other corporate personnel to communicate with each other, in part to answer customer questions and to stay in touch with the home office when in the field, companies can provide better CRM and better internal efficiecies.
"It's a very interesting technology," Riggs says. "It's something they've been working on for a couple of years. The hurdle these companies face is to get service providers to buy into the technology. What they are lacking are strong ties to the service providers. "Right now the vendors are driving this market," Riggs says. The advantage for the prospective users is that VoIP calls are less expensive than cell calls. Additionally, the IP PBX capabilities, provided by Motorola partner Avaya, enable advanced capabilities not available on typical phones without additional technology. The dual-mode phones won't, however, be commercially available until the end of the year.
Similarly, among other convergence technologies, Nortel Networks discussed its new Nortel Applications Center, which brings together contact center, advanced speech, unified messaging, and multimedia collaboration into a single application.
The technology would help break down the barriers that commonly exist in the technologies as separate applications, according to Riggs. When separate they all have their own reporting tools, licensing models, etc. As a single technology all these factors are in a single application, making them easier to use. Plus, tech upgrades would involve the entire application, rather than in one part, then another, then another, as it would with separate applications.
Even though the technology is available, and there are some positive CRM attributes to it, the call center market probably isn't ready for it yet, according to Riggs. So Nortel or any other companies providing similar technologies will need to sell their customers on the benefits of these systems. "There are a lot of implementation barriers, because there are a lot of [technology] silos."
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