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Voice Integrations on IBM i: Simple Ways to Automate and Improve Telephone Interactions

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Increase your company's bottom line while enhancing service and increasing your competitive profile.

 

Editor's Note: This article introduces two free resources available to you:

  • "Converging Voice and Business Applications: A Practical Approach," a white paper available from the MC Press White Paper Center  
  • "Smart Voice Integrations on IBM i: How to Innovate, Empower Users and Cut Costs," an accompanying Webinar from the MC Press Webcast Center

Recent technological advances in "voice integration" are enabling small and medium-sized organizations to increase service levels while dramatically decreasing costs.

 

Through voice integration, your organization can:

  • Improve telephone interactions with all callers through telephone self-service, intelligent routing of calls, screen pops pre-populated with meaningful data, and automated dialing to improve productivity.
  • Dramatically reduce your service-personnel costs related to telephone interactions.
  • Increase your organization's return on investment (ROI) on existing equipment and software.

 

The advancements in voice integration come at a critical juncture for smaller organizations as management requests IT to expand services to customers and business partners while simultaneously requiring IT to economize.

 

Organizations are facing their most significant economic challenges in over 50 years and, along with it, unparalleled competitive pressures that are felt particularly hard by the small and medium-sized business (SMB) community. These same economic conditions have empowered customers and business partners to demand increased qualities of business service. As a result, we see heightened requirements for IT to take business services to a new level. And all the while, IT and the organization in general are being asked to improve service levels with fewer and fewer technical and customer-facing resources.

 

The good news is that IT departments have been anticipating the shift in the service paradigm for some time and as a result have been positioning the IT model by past investments in the infrastructure.

So What's Holding Things Up?

IT—especially in the SMB market—is still dealing with real-world tactical problems that prevent it from meeting management's expectations. These problems are, in part, based upon the historic decentralization of infrastructure that happened over the last two decades. Decentralization has created levels of complexity that impact IT strategies.

 

Is there a realistic strategy that can help SMBs begin the move to improved service levels through voice integration?

 

IBM believes there is.

 

A new approach to voice integration enables SMBs to achieve definable management goals in a low risk, incremental fashion. IBM, along with partner iMessaging Solutions, is making available an enhanced technology that makes voice integration deployments simple and low risk.

Tell Me More About Voice Integration

At a high level, voice integration is a method to enhance the business applications that run your organization. It's software that integrates two distinctly different environments—your telephone system and your business applications—allowing them to interoperate harmoniously to enhance communication and efficiency. At the same time, voice integration enables important incremental improvements to your business systems so they can co-exist and cooperate seamlessly.

 

Voice integration connects your existing telephone system, whether a traditional PBX or a more current VOIP solution, with your business applications and data. It doesn't replace the telephone system, but instead controls the functions of your existing telephone environment to answer and route calls from the business application perspective rather than from the telephony side. This design differs from traditional environments by providing a unique telephony environment with application-based control that offers a deeper and more flexible level of integration.

 

This voice integration solution manages calls based upon call control definitions that you create using an IT-friendly API structure on your computing platform. Its telephony integration layer provides interoperability with the telephone system, directing those telephony functions that are managed by the telephone system. These include call setup and call switching.

 

Voice integration enables organizations to automate many of the processes that are currently preoccupying your company's personnel.

How Can Voice Integration Increase Your Company's Competitive Edge?

First, it provides customers and business partners the ability to use powerful self-service telephony features. These features can eliminate and/or drastically reduce routine inquiries that consume your employees' time and lower your organization's efficiency.

 

For instance, a caller can look up the status of an order, inquire about the status of his account, or request information about a product—all without directly interacting with a company representative. This self-servicing function reduces costs by allowing your skilled resources to focus on higher-value activities.

 

If the caller needs to speak with a representative, self-service functions can triage the call by asking targeted, customized questions of the customer and then assemble the appropriate records from its database before it branches the call to company personnel. When the customer representative responds to the call, he can more readily assist the caller because he has all pertinent information at his fingertips, presented as a screen pop that is integrated with the company's business applications.

 

Voice integration can also improve the automation of outbound calls. For instance, when the organization has a need to reach its business partner base or specific customers quickly with a personal communication, voice integration can prepare the list of telephone numbers, assemble the necessary data, place the call, and connect to your company agent when the targeted person answers. This technique reduces wait time and speeds communication in a personalized, highly productive manner.

 

Voice integration improves the quality of employee interactions with customers, while simultaneously improving the response time and service levels. Using self-service techniques, it can even extend service hours to 24x7 without adding personnel.

 

At the same time, voice integration adds a new level of control over costs by simplifying the infrastructure as call volumes increase and by empowering your current employees to provide a better service with automated tools. Moreover, by implementing the IBM i with voice integration, your company is "future-proofing" your infrastructure by making it telephone system vendor-neutral.

Moving Forward

The economic challenges facing IT today are undeniably difficult in their scope and complexity. IT must take advantage of recent technological advances to keep the organization competitive. The question is, what is the best strategy todeliver both results and still keep the organization positioned for the future?

 

Integrating voice with applications and data is one such strategy. Voice integration on IBM Power:

  • Enables leaner business models by improving call servicing from customers and business partners, while cutting operational costs.
  • Utilizes a single server platform to integrate a variety of business applications including ERP, CRM, email, collaboration, telephony, IVR, and call center.
  • Reduces the complexity of operations management to facilitate a smaller and smarter staff.
  • Offers a low-risk/high-return initial step toward the broader goals of unified communications.

Voice integration is a key technological advantage that can increase your company's bottom line during a critical economic cycle, while enhancing service and increasing your competitive profile.

 

To learn more about how your organization can leverage the benefits of voice integration, please review these free resources:

  • "Converging Voice and Business Applications: A Practical Approach," a white paper available from the MC Press White Paper Center
  • "Smart Voice Integrations on IBM i: How to Innovate, Empower Users and Cut Costs," an accompanying Webinar from the MC Press Webcast Center

 

 

Rich Ollari
Rich Ollari is president of iMessaging Solutions, Inc., a software company that focuses solely on improving telephone interactions and productivity for IBM i clients. Rich has specialized in telephony on the AS/400 (iSeries, System i, IBM i) platform since 1992.
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