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Cisco, E.piphany plan for next generation of contact centers

Networking giant Cisco Systems and CRM software maker E.piphany have teamed up to create new contact center software that serves multiple channels.

Staff at today's customer contact centers now have more tools at their disposal than telephones. Cisco Systems Inc. and E.piphany Inc. have teamed up to create new contact center software that serves those multiple channels.

The software will combine real-time customer intelligence and CRM management features from San Mateo, Calif.-based E.piphany with San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco's customer contact software platform. Aimed at medium to large businesses, the software will primarily focus on intelligent routing to ensure that the appropriate contact center agent receives a customer query.

Cisco has primarily focused on building a call center infrastructure that supports the Internet and Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP), according to Bill Carey, senior product manager at Cisco. The partnership with E.piphany allows Cisco to provide software to call centers, as well as integrate voice and Web applications, he said.

Meanwhile, E.piphany has added customer analytics to its focus, but needed a partner like Cisco to provide an intelligent infrastructure that would interface to legacy software, private branch exchange (PBX) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, said Brad Wilson, an E.piphany vice president for product marketing of platforms.

The next generation of contact centers

E.piphany now integrates into Cisco's Intelligent Contact Management (ICM) software for computer telephony integration (CTI). This allows the interface to the CTI to conduct call routing activities, Wilson said. E.piphany also integrates into Cisco's IP Contact Center, which provides a foundation for the next generation of contact centers, he said.

In turn, the Cisco partnership offers E.piphany customers chat and collaboration functions, he said.

"The next generation (of contact centers) will be where voice to data conversion is handled as a natural side effect," Wilson said. "For us, interfacing IPCC so we can offer ... Web-based applications on top of IP-based software gives us the next generation of contact centers, which are faster to put in and have a lower cost of ownership and maintenance."

Carey touted another benefit: ease of integration.

"Since (the software) is based on open standards, it's seamless to integrate the Web application with the IP voice application," he said.

Savings for companies come in intangibles, Wilson said. These include a reduced skill set requirement for agents and the ability of agents with DSL connections to work from home.

The real-time analytics included in the combined software allows for the call routing, which lets large enterprises better match customers with agents, he said.

The E.piphany e.5 customer interaction software is available now, currently integrated with Cisco ICM, Cisco IPCC and Cisco Collaboration Server (CCS). Integration of the analytics is set for December. Pricing begins at $250,000 for the E.piphany software.


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