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Engagement Centers vs. Record Keeping Centers

Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) and contact center telephony platforms (Automatic Call Distribution Systems or ACDs) share one painful trait: They are both based on 25-year-old technology. So if an enterprise has a strategic vision to shift away from record-keeping to a vision of data-rich engagement in their enterprise, then the vast majority of the tools on the market are themselves a barrier to success.

The concept of engagement centers is not just relevant to large-scale contact centers. Indeed, in some cases it is more relevant to smaller groups like human resources, where the competition for talent is becoming more aggressive every day.

Or consider the accounting department in almost any enterprise. These accountants interact with the rest of the enterprise frequently--mostly on a stimulus-response basis that can take hours or days.

Sure, Big Data can radically change the customer experience in the contact centers, but there are also profound improvements to be had by infusing not just the contact center, but internal and external collaboration interfaces with Big Data information.

Real-time engagement is the key to success. It is the core reason for the success of all telecom, and it is now being updated with relevant information that makes data-driven, real-time engagement a reality.

The information industry is changing as result of the exponential expansion of processor and memory capacities. Big Data is the commercial manifestation of these facts of physics, and the traditional database companies are struggling to crack the code on this new industry. SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM may be selling Big Data solutions; however, their Big Data products have little or nothing to do with RDBMSs.

Similarly, contact centers that are based on ACD technology are not even close to adopting anything remotely as advanced as Big Data. Although one could argue that ACD was the first real-time platform to embrace database-supported routing, the reality is that the routing tables cannot be more than a few pages long. Try loading 2.2TB of new data into these tables every day, and the failure will be catastrophic. Avaya claims some trials using "Data Grid" technology; but Data Grid is not Big Data.

The constraints that Big Data has overcome were physical in nature. The data was always there, but enterprises were forced to summarize it in order to make use of it. Physics now allows for the abandonment of these antiquated techniques, and Big Data is flourishing.

Telecom, on the other hand, is not constrained by physics, but by 135 years of myopia that has resulted from over-regulation and monopolistic behavior. ANI and DNIS are still dominant contextual data elements used in call routing. The Patent for ANI (Calling Line Identification Circuit, CLID) was written in 1941: 73 years ago!

As many of my readers know, I have been working with Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) for the last three years. Just to be clear, WebRTC does not contemplate ANI or DNIS; although, for legacy integration purposes these data can be replicated. What WebRTC does is to enable very large amounts of data to be sent to a database during the setup and progression of a communications session. This is accomplished with the "data channel" that is defined in the standards and is currently available in some production browsers (Google, Mozilla, Ericsson and Opera) and native applications.

WebRTC sessions can be initiated from a smartphone, tablet or PC, but not natively from a PBX or PSTN phone, hence the barrier. However, these sessions and their associated data can inexpensively be mapped to PBX and PSTN trunks/phones so that enterprises do not have to "fork-lift" their legacy communications solutions. Read: You can start with integration and move toward a pure WebRTC architecture.

If your enterprise has any interest in creating truly engaging real-time communications, then any investment in legacy PBX technology reinforces the barriers that have prevented your enterprise from implementing real-time engagement with your employees and customers.

My point here is that the majority of "advanced" VoIP technology is still based on antiquated constructs. The information industry has moved forward with real-time engagement capabilities, but the telecom industry seems to be fighting to understand the needs of their customers.

Gartner projects that Big Data revenues will be 4 times the size of the enterprise telecom business within 2 years. Here is a hint: if enterprises are spending this kind of money on real-time computation, then maybe the telecommunications industry should pay attention.

The Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC) is an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide