Thursday, March 22, 2007

SIP: Leading Contact Centers beyond VoIP

My earlier post Business of Customer Responsiveness was a teaser for the C-level. I hope it continues serving its purpose by propagating and keeping the core message alive.

Now I want to turn your attention to a key relevant topic in that teaser. Enter SIP. Session Initiation Protocol for the technically minded.

But I firmly believe that more importantly, it is really a Simpler IP!

When the art of "packetizing voice and moving the packets over IP networks" was perfected; the industry coined the term VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). You could take it or leave it alone.
By itself VoIP did nothing spectacular:

  • VoIP initially brought the toll costs down
  • when people used it to bypass the toll networks
  • they did so by establishing their own private IP links a.k.a. Leased Lines
  • and then this initial hype died...

  • ...when the long distance communications costs kept moving southwards, partly owing to the fact that Telecom carriers themselves deployed VoIP; and also with the new avatar of many Internet Service Providers donning the hat of Telephony providers.

    But the real power that got unleashed was beyond the "packets" in VoIP. The real power was in "infinitely extending the copper wire". The ability to add voice terminals wherever your IP network could reach. The ability to "convert" your PC's and Laptops into Telephones.

    Of course it came with its caveats, and imposed limits on:

  • round trip delays
  • packet loss
  • jitter
  • the fact that you could not 'resend', or 'send out of order' voice packets the same way as you could do for data packets

  • But as long as these limits were adhered to in the network, and Voice packets appropriately prioritized using Quality Of Service (QOS) techniques; a Communication application could be pretty much "virtualized" the way you wanted.

    You could deliver the Voice AND data packets without bothering about how to converge them. And these were real Applications benefits, that distinguished the "IP Telephony" from mere "VoIP"!
    And the Technocrats (even amongst the C-Levels) understood WHY IP Phones were beneficial, but more importantly WHERE they were not! e.g.: for a Single location Contact Center... where the copper wire itself does the job.

    I suspect something similar is going to be the case in the SIP era. There will be Organizations who are either developing "so called" SIP technologies, or thinking of deploying SIP; just because it seems to be the next wave. I'm afraid these Organizations will not reap any real benefits.

    The real power of SIP is in the Applications space again. Note a few:

  • Interoperability between different vendor applications
  • Ability to add Voice, CTI data, AND Video in a session
  • Ability to start off on one medium (say Instant Messaging a.k.a. Web Chat) and simply switch to; or subsequently ADD another (e.g. Voice channel)
  • Ability to report more comprehensively on the contacts, including the above "multi-media within the same contact"
  • Ability to identify (through Presence) resources with relevant skills to handle the Customers in queue
  • Ability to also additionally identify whether these resources are interruptible at the given moment
  • .. etc. etc.

  • As SIP pervades the Contact Center Applications space, the IP Telephony benefits are going to get greatly enhanced. What VoIP did to the Contact Center Infrastructure through IP Telephony; SIP is going to do for the Applications.

    What do you think?

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