Convergence, primarily driven by the increased acceptance of internet protocol (IP) and maturing product sets, is driving change in contact centre technology with more than 60% of contact centres adopting IP-based or hybrid IP PBX/ACDs.

The latest findings in Dimension Data’s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2007 reveal that this is a 10% increase in IP adoption compared to figures for last year.
The report says that contact centres are gaining a better understanding of the business benefits of an IP environment. The top reason given for a move to IP is flexibility of architecture (69.0%), followed by cost savings (66.1%). Other reasons include compliance with corporate technology policies (31.1%), end-of-life technologies that need to be upgraded or replaced (30.1%), and improved business functionality (29.0%).
"Convergence, in its simplest form, is the combination of previously separate entities – data and telephony systems, networks and equipment," says the editor of the report, Cara Diemont. "Since contact centres depend on a range of information and communications technology, converged technology can significantly increase efficiencies. Benefits include allowing agents to handle contacts, access customer information more quickly and, more importantly, enable contacts to be handled throughout the organisation."
The report findings also show increased usage in two technologies strongly impacted by convergence – computer telephony integration (CTI) and universal queues. More than half of contact centres (53.4%) currently use CTI, while 23.3% are planning to do so in the future. In addition, 28.0% have implemented – and 15.9% plan to install – universal queues.
"As a result of the move to convergence, CTI will shift from its traditional role as a proprietary solution to link disparate technologies," says Diemont. "It will become an open standard technology incorporated in applications across the network to enable contact centre telephony functionality.
"CTI will continue to deliver functions such as screen pop, transfer of calls with attached data, and unique call identifiers between systems, for example, call recording information passed between switching and recording platforms.
"The growing adoption of CTI and universal queues illustrates that the benefits of these technologies for driving operational and service improvement are better understood," Diemont adds. "In addition, contact centres are responding to customers who increasingly want to interact with organisations using channels other than voice."