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Technology moves beyond the call centre

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Historically, many companies have viewed the communication requirements
for their contact centres and the rest of their enterprise, or "back
office" independently, writes Dave Paulding, Interactive Intelligence's
regional sales manager for UK and Africa.

The traditional stance has been that the contact centre requires
specialised, cutting edge communication technology, while the back office
only needs a PABX system.
The fact is that most companies can benefit significantly from having a
unified communications (UC) platform throughout the enterprise.  A UC
platform enables seamless call transfers from the contact centre to the
back office, enables better supervision of satellite and branch offices
and offers a more cost effective way of expanding.
Many companies locally and internationally have woken up to the
possibilities of having one communication solution throughout their
enterprise.  Currently, Motorola is rolling out a global UC system which
will ultimately connect its 90,000 employees, most of whom reside in the
back office.
Locally, Nashua Mobile runs its entire business on a UC platform,
including its contact centre and back office, and is currently extending
this to the retail stores to enable improved supervision and reporting.
Axiz, the IT reseller also uses one platform for all its branch offices
nationwide and in neighbouring countries. Today, over 60 percent of our
customers purchasing a UC solution are implementing it throughout their
business.
A key benefit of deploying one solution is significant cost savings.  Some
businesses have a misperception that installing a PABX for the back office
will be cheaper than extending their contact centre technology, but often
it works out to be a lower cost per user to extend the UC platform.
Companies can also save on the cost of integrating the PABX system with
the contact centre technology.
Having one platform throughout also allows the seamless transfer of calls
from the contact centre to the rest of the enterprise.  For example, a
customer calling the contact centre may need input from an employee in
finance.  If the company has one platform, that call can be transferred to
the finance team without the customer having to repeat the problem and all
his/her identification and verification details.
With a UC platform implemented in the mainstream enterprise, future
expansion becomes easy for the business.  The system can easily extend to
accommodate more users, and, importantly it can also accommodate remote
and mobile workers.
In almost every business today, regardless of the industry, we are seeing
a shift towards a mobile workforce.  With a UC platform, those users can
connect to the rest of the organisation.
The "find me, follow me" capabilities of the platform enable "one number
dialing" where a customer can call the employee on their office number,
and the system will locate the person whether they are working from home,
or traveling overseas.
By using a UC platform throughout the business, companies can also better
monitor and manage their branch offices.  At a glance, managers can see
the availability status of employees at a retail store, for example, and
ensure that the staff are sticking to their designated work hours. While
UC technology was never only intended for the contact centre, it has
provided an excellent test-bed for the solution which is now delivering
significant benefits to businesses across the board.