Gaining Control Over All Aspects of the Call Center

Aspect Software today announced the general availability of Unified Command and Control (UCC), a scalable solution that enables contact centers to centralize reporting, routing, administration, and workflow management in a single console capable of handling 40,000 agents within a single site or across multiple locations.

UCC opens the door for expanded virtualization, especially as many companies move to new session initiation protocol (SIP)-based Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) platforms, such as its own Unified IP application. Essentially, the solution provides common visibility across all consumer platforms and call center applications, including workforce management, performance management, automatic call distribution, predictive dialing, voice portals, and more, explains Mike Sheridan, Aspect Software’s senior vice president of marketing strategies.

By consolidating data from these various contact center applications, UCC enables businesses to eliminate areas of duplication and reduce operating costs associated with managing agent profiles. It also lets them use one system to facilitate agent moves, adds, and changes across sites, and enables local survivable nodes, ensuring business continuity during a local network failure or disaster.

The need for such an application, Sheridan says, "is being driven by a lack of visibility and control. The culprit is how call centers have evolved over time, with new applications for a single portal that rarely talk to one another, requiring complex [computer telephony integration (CTI).]

"Call center professionals and managers are always looking to adapt more readily to changes in their business, whether from executives or customers," he adds.

UCC is built on a service-oriented architecture (SOA), and is an open-source application that can also be marketed to third-parties or Aspect Software partners to build their own adapters into their own products. Aspect has already made the software code available to Avaya and Nortel Systems, Sheridan reports.

The system, he hopes, will enable Aspect Software to target larger accounts that until now, had been elusive, and better compete with the likes of Cisco Systems, Avaya, and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, which have traditionally been better able to attract large-scale customers.

Though Sheridan expects some greenfield accounts to come on board, he says the UCC application is really geared toward those companies that already have applications in place and are looking for investment protection.

 "Our customers are continuously looking for avenues to gain greater control and improve scalability and workloads across the enterprise," Gary Barnett, chief technology officer and executive vice president of Aspect Software said in a statement. "Unified Command and Control is delivering these virtualization capabilities and will change the way companies manage their contact center operations. From large, multinational organizations with several contact centers around the globe, to small and mid-sized companies with virtual remote agents, multiple ACDs and performance optimization products, our customers are seeing the benefits of SIP-based, VoIP-enabled solutions to gain a competitive advantage."

One such customer is Laser Centers of America (LCA)-Vision. "With Unified Command and Control, we have access to consolidated, detailed information on our four contact centers and their performance as things happen," Mark Good, the company’s vice president of information systems, said in a statement. "Having synchronized information that is easy to manage helps us make decisions and take a more active approach to planning our customer care initiatives for the future. Unified Command and Control gives us the flexibility and control we need to successfully manage our multisite operations."
Though LCA-Vision is one of several companies that have already gone through beta testing with UCC, Sheridan expects outsources to be the biggest early adopters of the solution and a full IP environment. "It will probably take five to seven years for the laggards to start to make that move," he says.

"The majority of customers are not yet ready for an all-in-one approach, but they want to take on common visibility and administration," Sheridan adds.

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