Tracking Calls Across the Hosted Universe
The hosted contact center market continues to evolve, but the adoption of these applications has been anything but rapid. Some industry pundits, however, expect that fact to change. For instance, companies like Five9, Contactual, Echopass, and UCN provide hosted contact center solutions, and, according to research from DMG Consulting, "Hosted Contact Centers are Ready for Prime Time," 20 to 30 percent of all new contact center seats will be hosted by 2007. CosmoCom, an all-IP contact center technology provider, is looking to capitalize with its latest update of its unified contact center suite, CosmoCall Universe (CCU).
One notable enhancement of CCU Version 4.5 is the addition of a new module, CosmoTracker, an interaction history-tracking option that supports customer touch points like voice, email, and chat. Although Steve Kowarsky, executive vice president at CosmoCom, maintains that the interaction history tracking capability covers some of the functionality that traditional CRM applications cover, he notes that it does not compare to "true" CRM solutions. "It's not a CRM [tool]...but we created this because we think there's an unfilled need in the marketplace for something that is much simpler than a CRM [solution], but will still give you basic customer information and basic interaction history that pops up when you receive a call."
The browser-based Enhanced Web Agent offers functionality unavailable via the desktop agent including multiple line appearances and an enhanced supervisor interface for improved call monitoring. "It used to be that most of our customers were using [an executable desktop] and that's still fine and that's still available, but with the Web Agent it's so easy for anyone in the world to be an agent," Kowarsky says. According to Kowarsky, the Web Agent capability corresponds with the "Contact Center On-Demand" concept. "These service providers really want to get away from maintaining any kind of software at all and having the Web Agent really helps them to do that."
According to Donna Fluss, principal of DMG Consulting, CosmoCom's announcement is "an example of the innovation" within the space. "Hosted contact center is a new reality in the contact center landscape. It's here stay and will be growing," she says.
Version 4.5 also incorporates improvements to CosmoDesigner (a GUI application development tool), which now has a built-in Web Services API. The updated version also features a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) extension method for integrating speech app platforms from partners Nuance and VoxPilot into the CosmoCall Universe and CosmoDesigner environment. It also offers improved support of standalone IP telephones that adds PBX extension functionality to CCU's call center features. The CCU campaign manager now includes preview and progressive campaigns, as well as IVR dialing with optional agent access within the IVR application.
Chris Selland, industry analyst at Covington Associates, says that hosted applications enable a "wholesale shift" in how organizations handle their agent-staffing requirements. "In a lot of cases the contact center won't be a center anymore. Companies will be able to put their agents where they want them," he says. While he notes that the market is still in its early stages, "there's a lot of potential there."
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