Public sector call centres may be among the most significant beneficiaries of the government’s drive to implement open source software solutions. 

This is according to Steve Briggs, MD of BizCall, who adds that many decision makers are unaware that it is possible to run a sophisticated IP telephony-based call centre using open source technology.
“IP telephony offers huge cost savings compared to traditional PBX systems because it reduces carrier costs and eliminates the need to maintain separate networks for data and telephony,” says Briggs.
“When you add the savings that come from eliminating licence fees for proprietary technology, the financial case for moving to open source is very strong.”
In addition, says Briggs, open source IP telephony offered more functionality than the traditional PBX.
“Right from the start you get productivity gains because VoIP systems include tools like E-mail, fax forwarding and voice logging,” he adds.
The real rewards, however, came from the possibilities for converged applications.
“IP telephony enables organizations to integrate their CRM and supply chain management systems, for example, on a single platform. That means you can use tools like predictive and power dialling, click-through and click-to-call functions and voice-enabled database queries. This level of convergence is where the biggest cost savings can occur.
“Open source means end users can customize almost any aspect of their telephony software,” adds Briggs.
“This allows them to add features or modify existing features where and when they like, and these then become available worldwide. As a result the open source feature set is much richer than any closed system. Open source PBX solutions can also adapt and integrate with almost any existing telecom infrastructure.”
 Briggs says this combination of low cost, rich features and flexibility is driving rapid and widespread adoption of open source IP telephony in the private sector as well as in government.
“South Africa has one of the world’s most progressive initiatives to implement open source across all spheres of government by the end of this decade,” he says. “Call centres are just one place the country is going to see significant benefits as a result.”