Example: Personal Telephony Services
One of the greatest advantages of the new world IP telephony system is the ease of intelligent integration with existing applications.
End users can use their Web browsers to graphically define a “personal rules engine” to create filters on incoming calls, or scan and organize voice mail with the same ease as organizing e-mail; creating personal phone configurations, such as speed dial, and building a valet service that could scan your personal calendar to intelligently route your call.
Traditional PBX call routing and embedded features are based on proprietary applications that are specific to that particular system. Traditional PBXs were an island independent of all the other applications running on the corporate network. Voice mail and e-mail have traditionally been separate because they have been developed on separate systems. In the new world, IP PBX voice mail and e-mail are all part of the same application running in a distributed fashion across the entire corporate network. A single mailbox can now hold your voice messages, e-mail, fax, and video clips.
Example: Integrated Web Search and Calls
Integrated Web search and call applications can be very powerful. If a user is on the Web looking for a product or service and has a question, they can click an icon on the Web browser to speak to an agent. The agent can recognize the user by a cookie file and see the Web page the user is looking at, so the agent is ready to help without having to ask for account information each time the user calls. The call is also intelligently routed based on the information the network has retrieved from the user’s computer. This “click-to-talk” application is one place where convergence is helping to differentiate one service from another.
With integrated Web search and call features, a user can click on a button and talk specifically to an agent who is qualified to address the user’s specific question. The user does not have to go off-line to use the phone, but can actually do it live while on-line.
What this means for e-commerce applications is that sales cycles that could not be completed using just the Web page because a user had a question can now be completed, increasing revenue.
This is not just “pie in the sky.” Cisco does 80 percent of its business through its Web page—that’s $8 billion a year. More importantly, 90 percent of technical support questions are answered through the Web. This not only reduces the number of agents, it gets the information to the customers quickly and increases customer satisfaction. There is a click-to-talk feature in place. To do this, you need to have all your services—data, voice, and video—on a single infrastructure. Now, whether customers are on the Web or on the phone, agents have access to them.