Predictive Dialing on Asterisk?

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Predictive Dialing on Asterisk?

Pika logoAsteriskWith PIKA Technologies's latest version of MonteCarlo SDK, PIKA Technologies new software development kit speeds development of predictive dialer applications. Since PIKA's boards work on Asterisk, in theory, this SDK could be used to develop predictive dialer applications on the open source Asterisk platform. Having predictive dialer functionality on Asterisk is one of the features sorely lacking in Asterisk, which makes Asterisk not suited to call center environments that require this functionality.

So in theory, PIKA's SDK could add predictive dialer functionality to Asterisk - but more on that later - first the news. Today, PIKA Technologies announced it can help application developers more speedily build predictive calling applications for call centers thanks to today's release of its latest MonteCarlo software development kit. The SDK includes updates to GrandPrix, PIKA's high-level application programming interface, that decreases time to market for developers by making the design of their application quicker and easier.

The GrandPrix API is designed to work directly with low-level APIs and provides mechanisms that allow applications to access the finer control provided by these low-level APIs. In addition to the call-progress analysis function included in this latest release, GrandPrix provides an abstraction of call signaling in analog, digital and IP, and call control for SIP, ISDN, CAS and analog with Caller-ID.

Many modern call centers rely on predictive dialers to place calls. Predictive dialers are computerized systems that automatically dial batches of numbers while using algorithms to determine availability of agents and calls answered, then adjusting dialing patterns based on real-time data.

Call-progress analysis is of vital importance to contact centers using predictive dialers. If a call placed by a predictive dialer is answered, the determination of whether it is a live person or an answering machine on the other end of the call must happen swiftly so that the appropriate action may be taken - a call is transferred to an agent, a message is left on the answering machine or the call is disconnected and redialed at a later time.

PIKA's customers know the value that call progress analysis adds to their solutions. "We wanted to create a predictive dialer that was easy to install and to use," said Richard Hardgrave, President, Electronic Voice Services. "While there are a lot of predictive dialers on the market, most are very complex to deal with. The problem is that most predictive dialers have a long lag time. A recipient picks up the phone, says "hello," but doesn't hear anything for a few seconds. This gets people's guards up because they suspect they're being called by another telemarketer."

Call-progress analysis can solve this problem and provides distinct competitive advantage for application developers.

In Frost and Sullivan's "World Outbound Dialing Markets," analyst Seema Lall predicted the market will reach $204.9 million by 2011 and emphasized the competitive advantage offered by top-tier dialing solutions. "Essentially, the outbound dialing products will afford a means for providing superb customer care, which becomes a competitive differentiator for the service-oriented culture," said Lall.

Predictive-dialer developers see PIKA solutions as a competitive advantage as they are assured excellent call-progress detection and call-analysis features in their applications.

"PIKA allows developers to modify certain parameters, such as the number of words in a greeting, which enable predictive dialer applications to achieve a higher accuracy," said PIKA Technologies field application engineer Cindy Xu. "We are continuously improving DSP and host-based algorithms so that developers have the proper tools to create the best solutions for their call center customers. We have performed significant and extensive testing in-house and feel that the tools that we provide predictive dialing system developers are equal to or better than others on the market."

Getting back to my point about adding predictive dialing functionality to Asterisk, I asked PIKA about this possibility. I asked, "Can this SDK be used on Asterisk to build a predictive dialer application on Asterisk? I know that is one thing lacking in Asterisk."

PIKA's representative responded, "It looks like that will indeed be the case with the next release of PIKA Connect for Asterisk, slated for the Fall." The PIKA representative continued, "The SDK, MonteCarlo GrandPrix, works with Asterisk but this particular feature hasn't been implemented in our channel drivers yet. We need to take the call progress analysis in GrandPrix and "plug in" to Asterisk's call progress analysis for this to work."

So this is great news for Asterisk! Not sure how easy it will be to develop a predictive dialer application using PIKA's SDK, or if the open source community will embrace it, but certainly this is good start. Traditional predictive dialer companies must be quaking in their boots at the thought that Asterisk, known as an open source IP-PBX, could one day be an open source predictive dialer as well.

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