Where are the VoIP apps?

Voice over IP supporters say that a VoIP investment will let your business take advantage of applications that embed VoIP into their functions. But as Adam Turner says in the first of a four-part feature, actually finding those applications is not easy!

When VoIP providers talk up their wares, one of the benefits they tout is the likely future integration of voice into all manner of applications.

But VoIP's migration into other applications is a promise that's long on rhetoric and short on details.

Presence - basically the ability to see if someone is busy or available to chat - has been touted as phase one of the great VoIP revolution, but it's hard to get vendors to name another application that co-exists with VoIP.

The contact centre is perhaps the best place to look for signs of emerging applications.

Health insurance broker iSelect, for example, recently switched to Avaya's VoIP platform as part of an upgrade of its 60 set call centre. While iSelect was initially after a way to monitor the effectiveness of the call centre, technology manager Jason Egbers says he is very interested in the other possibilities VoIP presents.

"We're starting to looking at the phone system and other applications co-habitation in ways other than just presence," Egbers says.

"We're looking at things like screen popping and interrogation of databases. Screen popping is where a customer provides their details as part of the initial menu system and the application interrogates a database and brings up that customers record. It's bridging the gap between the phone system and the applications you use."

While such uses for VoIP are delivering on the old promises of Computer Telephony Integration, Egbers is also excited about some of the new uses for VoIP showcased at this year's Avaya Connect conference.

"One particular use for VoIP that caught my attention is the Avaya Communication enablement process - it integrates with workflow applications," he says.

"For example when you submit a leave requestion, instead of sending an email to your manager the system will call your manager and play a message - the manager can then either press 1 or 2 to approve or reject that request. That kind of thing is bringing down the barriers between a phone system and other applications."

Next: Integrating VoIP applications into your workflow


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