What will the call center of the future look like? I am not sure but I have seen some interesting Mitel product demos recently which may be the basis for some future call center applications in 2010 or beyond.
About seven years ago Sun came by TMC and was thrilled to show us their new smart card based terminals they thought would be a natural fit for call centers. Shortly thereafter Sun went silent and we at TMC didn’t hear much about these cards again. I haven’t seen them in any call centers over the years either.
Still, the concept of having a thin client for call center agents makes sense as there are no virus issues to deal with and no upgrades and new releases to add management time and cost to your call center solution.
When Mitel showed me their leading edge call center solution I was actually surprised to realize it is the same smart card I saw first about seven years ago.
It is called a Sun Ray Base Station and it accepts a smart card which authenticates the agent. Fingerprint info can be embedded in the card if needed. Agents can log into any terminal with said card and there is full integration with Mitel’s call center solutions.
Sun likes to call this environment a phonetop. The idea seems great but while Sun seems to be a great technology company, they often seem to forget to actually promote their innovations in areas such as call centers.
Still, for a few hundred dollars you can purchase one of these terminals and in the process not worry about data theft and a myriad of other problems a typical computer manager is faced with.
What is so cool about the integration is Mitel’s integration of the Sun card into their telephone. These phones can obviously be brought home as well for a more secure remote agent solution.
Mitel also showed me a Windows Mobile PDA-based application allowing a call center manager to wander the call center and check on the agents while managing queues reprioritizing calls, etc.
Like I said, this stuff is all part of Mitel’s contact center of the future demonstration and I like what I see. Hopefully this article will generate some attention to the cool things Mitel and Sun are collectively working on in call centers to be available very soon.