A 20 Year Mission – CRM and CTI Integration
Since the days of CSTA, GED-188, TSAPI, and SS7 Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) has been a complicated and risky venture. Companies like GeoTel, Genesys, Lucent, IBM, and HP made millions of dollars consulting with customers looking to realize the benefits of “screen pop” and softphone controls. Projects were expensive and very time consuming, and solutions were frequently unstable and the ongoing maintenance, a nightmare. In 1995 I started my company, AMC Technology, because I thought there had to be a better way. I was working as a technical consultant for a large customer implementing SAP, when I was made aware of a very risky part of the project and asked to make an assessment. The customer’s call center was trying to implement IMA Edge, one of several CTI companies of the day, with SAP. The project had already taken months, was way over budget, and consistently crashed the system. A few of us there got together and over the course of a couple of weekends and late nights, architected and built a solution that was far more modular and stable, and provided even tighter integration with SAP. The project team was delighted, but the senior management team was already too far down the path with their current approach to switch to the solution we built. Luckily, SAP AG, had also noticed our efforts and within a few months we had an agreement with SAP to ship our solution to every single one of their customers. From that moment on, we were in the CTI product business. We found quickly that customers around the world had a large variety of CTI solutions, from companies like IBM, Genesys, Cisco, Aspect, Siemens, Avaya, and others. In order for our new partnership with SAP to be successful, we needed to support all of these CTI vendors. We solved this dilemma by creating an abstract layer that would essentially translate the proprietary CTI layers into a universal CTI API. To make it even more robust, we did the same on the CRM side, creating an abstract layer that translated the proprietary CRM/ERP systems into a universal business application API. We called this product MCIS, or the Multi-Channel Integration Server. Since then the industry has seen tremendous consolidation and change, GeoTel was bought by Cisco, Nabnasset bought by Quintus, which was bought by Avaya, Genesys bought IBM CallPath, etc. The industry has changed so much, yet one thing has remained the same. CTI companies are still charging a fortune for professional services to customers. That’s why I’m so proud of AMC – we’ve stayed true to our mission; to be the leader in CRM and CTI integration products. MCIS, which was rebranded as Contact Canvas a few years back, is the number one CRM/CTI integration platform in the world. Contact Canvas does require some configuration, but the time it takes to install our software takes hours; the time to prepare it for production, only days. That’s a fraction of the time the other vendors need. Most of the limited professional services we do provide are centered on 20 years of experience and learned best practices. Our Solution Engineers have deep expertise in both CRM systems and CTI platforms, and customers have leveraged our skills to optimize their call center business practices. Not only can the software be installed very quickly, customers see the most value in how tightly Contact Canvas integrates the customer’s CTI platform with their CRM system. To demonstrate our commitment to our mission a year ago we decided to offer our expertise and assistance to our customers at no charge. In the past, even though the need for our services was limited, customers still needed to engage and pay for AMC services. Now, customers that have an active support contract just have to log a ticket with us and we’re happy to help, whether the question involves installing our software, or configuring their CTI platform or CRM system. Several of our competitors have emphasized how quickly their software can be installed, some even claiming world records on the time it takes to install their product. I think they’re missing the point. Many of us in this business can install our software and show basic functionality in under an hour, but customers never run the software in this condition. Customers are looking to tightly integrate their CTI software with their CRM system, and to accomplish this it takes strong knowledge of both CTI and CRM along with an understanding of the customer’s business process. As we move into 2015, our 20th year, we’re excited to continue working to fulfill our mission and help customers fully realize the business value promised by CTI.
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