COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW

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Issue Date: June 2007

Focus on costs misses true value of IP telephony

June 2007
Kevin Clarke, country manager, HansaWorld SA

There are two problems with the IP telephony hype. First, IP telephony probably will not save you as much as you will end up spending on extra hardware to maintain call quality. The promise of cost savings is a red herring.

There are two problems with the IP telephony hype. First, IP telephony probably will not save you as much as you will end up spending on extra hardware to maintain call quality. The promise of cost savings is a red herring.
But there is a bigger problem, which is that most people punting IP telephony completely miss the point about its real value. They are stuck in a 130-year-old mindset in which telephony begins and ends with the ability for two people to talk when they are apart. We have added some embellishments – voice mail, caller ID, call forwarding – but it is still all about talking. If all that has changed is the way the voice signal is carried, then nothing has changed.
The bigger point most people are missing is this: if voice becomes just another data stream, then we can mix it up and enrich it with other data streams. Once we do that – once we connect our phone systems to our financial and customer records – a world of opportunities opens up. We start being able to extract business from a system that was previously just part of the furniture.
Link caller ID with other information, for example, and suddenly when customers call their profiles pop up on your screen even before you have answered. You can see everything from outstanding invoices through what happened last time the customer called the company, to how profitable this account is.
Well integrated information, available to the right people as soon as or even before they need it, makes for better, faster customer service and happier customers.
Even better, when your system is integrated it is easy to keep information up to date. Suddenly your CRM system simply IS your address book, and it automatically tracks every phonecall, SMS or e-mail exchanged with every customer. This way a customer database is always up to date and shared throughout the organisation – and can become a rich source of information for new business creation.
That is the true value of IP telephony: forget about saving pennies on phonecalls and look instead to the new business it can create.
For more information contact Kevin Clarke, HansaWorld SA, clarke@hansaworld.com


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