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Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

My Post at Network Computing

Posted by tggokul on July 11, 2009

Network computing in its latest edition has  my post on something that is very close to my heart . What is really unified communication and what aspects of unified communication is relevant in today’s world. My U2C manifesto.

Have a read and let me know what you think

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Posted in Cisco, Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS, Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »

A Next Gen Contact Center

Posted by tggokul on April 22, 2009

I am back after travelling for two weeks within the US and most of my time was spent at iQor, a BPO customer (outbound collections) of my current employer. My guys have been involved in some of the  work there within iQor, and they were raving about the vision and goals of iQor. Well, as the saying goes you can take Gokul away from technology, but never take the technologist away from Gokul 🙂 And so, I planned a visit to see what these guys were upto.

Even before I  got to know the different technology initiatives iQor was working on, what intrigued me the most was the fact that a BPO was actually investing so much time and money in innovation. The typical BPOs I have been dealing with for the last few years have always looked at vendors ( could be the product vendors like Avaya/Cisco/Nortel, or at SIs like ourselves) to guide them on technology and in fact they have gone to the extent of saying that they are not interested in technology at all and all they care about is being insulated from the obsolescence of the technology. But not iQor.Their technology team pushes whatever platform they are working on to the hilt and then develop applications on top of that would make more sense to their business and eventually be cost effective. So if they faced a problem in the solution provided by the product vendor, what do they do? Develop customized applications!!

I can’t write too much about their applications since that is proprietary information. But for example, since they are an outbound collections BPO, predictive dialing is most crucial to their business and they have developed an algorithm internally that will enhance productivity of the agents. They have simplified the agent desktops ( IP Blue phone with screen pop) and what the agent sees is most optimal to increase his/her productivity.

On the contact center platform front, they have written applications that will help dramatically in MAC (move/add changes). When you are talking the size of iQor agents (close to 7000), it is a support nightmare if the removal/addition/reskilling etc has to be done manually. iQor has developed an interface that ensures that human errors are minimal. Automation of processes are key in all of iQor’s initiatives and that mantra holds good in the platform as well.

There is a push to use open source in all of their technologies (including enterprise applications like HR/finance) to make operations much more cost effective. Virtualization of applications is critical since not only does it reduce cost but also ensures “free seating” in the real sense of the word. An agent is the same agent irrespective he is in India/US/Philippines and isn’t that one of the very premise of Unified Communication? A real Unified Contact center in some sense. Oh btw, no surprises, agents login via biometrics 🙂

I for one believe once iQor fully implements these solutions, it should try packaging these solutions to other BPOs as well. Reference sites are always a big challenge for product companies. But when you have solutions that are tried and tested in a 7000 seat contact center, you don’t have worry about your solution’s performance!!!

I won’t be surprised if product vendors start looking at these solutions and start adding them to their product suite. Sooner or later all BPOs are going to have a need for those features that iQor needed in the past, and the product vendors need to be cognizant of that. Technology is a big chunk of BPOs cost and every attempt to improve performance of these technologies at the same cost would only help these BPOs. iQor just did that on their own and it is only fair to say they run the next gen contact center in more ways than one!!!

Posted in Cisco, General, VoIP/IMS, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

Is Skype a Web Application or a Telecom Innovation?

Posted by tggokul on August 29, 2007

The last two days has seen considerable discussions on the Internet thanks to some hard-talk by Mark Cuban ( Btw, I am an ardent fan of MC. How can you not like a guy who fights with NBA officials?).

Vijay toes a similar lines when comparing Telecom Innovation v/s  Internet Revolution. A very interesting read. My contention though is that there is so little to separate between the two. I say Skype is a telecom innovation. Skype is a Telco, so will be every other web companies ( like Google) soon. So where do we differentiate? Am very interested to know what all of you think about this.

Posted in Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

Jyve five

Posted by tggokul on February 21, 2007

I had blogged a couple of months earlier about search coupled with user generated content and how the telecom industry can give something back to the web world. Looks lile Jyve does something very similar. I finally got a chance to play around with it briefly today. For people not familiar with this service, it is basically Google search meets Yahoo answers ( I could have said Yahoo search instead of Google, but I am a Google fan).

You can go to this site type a question you want to be answered and you will get the answers from people who are logged in live. I asked “What is VoIP” and nobody replied for some time. Just when I thought that there were no geeks logged in, I got a few answers.

VoIP (voice over IP) is an IP telephony term for a set of facilities used to manage the delivery of voice information over the Internet. Generally voice is carried over connected networks as signals but in an abstraction if we consider voice as data …. it was thought that why could we not carry voice over the IP networks (say internet) and thus the concept of VoIP was born

There is a answer tab as well, where you can go and answer other people’s questions. When I clicked on that tab my question was in the queue with 7 comments( here comments are the answers. So mine had ‘7’ comments).  I can answer any of those questions that are listed ( if I am not logged in, I would be answering these as a ‘guest’).

Looks cool. An option to call/instant message ( through skype) is also provided which is  pretty neat. I can see a lot of the things that can be done to make this service even better.

1) Categorize the answers you are looking for as basic, intermediary and advanced, i.e if I select basic as an option, the guy responding to my question must give me a very simple answer that I can understand, if advanced, he can get into the details
2) The categories in the search page ( IT/Electronics etc) looks very broad. They need to narrow that down.

Overall a nice application and I might actually try this out the next time I don’t get any good answers from Google.

Posted in Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »

PICSQUARE

Posted by tggokul on January 25, 2007

I wanted to play around with PicSquare and created an account for myself.  Pretty neat site and not complicated at all. This would pass the mother test (your mother would be able to understand what is going on and be able to operate it). They give free 10 free prints on registration. I have one gripe in the registration process. They did a send a confirmation mail to my email id, but the account should be activated only when I accept.  The email says that if somebody else had registered on my behalf I should contact them. It should not be this way.  I don’t want somebody to use my email id and then I need to contact PicSquare to reclaim it!!!

Next I wanted to test sending a photo. (Atleast till the final checkout screen even if I am not actually sending it) I uploaded a photo and updated my dad’s address in Chennai as a contact.

Their UI is neat though their checkout process could be made a little less complex. It lets me go into the ‘Digital Print’ screen even when I have not selected any photos. This shouldn’t be allowed at all. I also got a little confused when it asks me to save the contact in the receipient address list. I don’t think that is necessary. Once I have added the contact and selected it, it should automatically be added to the recepient list!!! It went to the payment page from there and I cancelled it 🙂 I had selected one print and it said I would be charged Rs.50. Price ain’t too bad.

When I was accessing all the pages in PicSquare it was kind of slow. Am not sure whether my internet link was slow ( I am on broadband. So might not be) or could be a lot of load at that time. I hope it is just a temporary thing.

The service looks good and easy to use. I probably will suggest it to my friends in the US who could use such a service. Overall grade A-.

Posted in Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »

Other Way Round : Feedback

Posted by tggokul on November 14, 2006

I have had some very positive feedback on my earlier Blog “Other Way Round”. So thank you all for that. I got to read more about Voice 3.0,Web 3.0, semantic web and all that and has Vijay has posted in his comments, this is all from a Web point of view. If the telecom guys collaborate in this effort. I believe the end user will benefit much more. I might be biased towards the telecom community ( being a part of that), but my honest opinion is that the Telecom guys have much more knowledge on what an ordinary man needs than the web guys. It is  because they have been around for more time and nothing else.

On the same note, I am a novice when it comes to Web technologies and so am interacting with some friends who are proficient in this area to hear their side of the story. I am looking to get atleast one of them to write a guest blog here.

We are just warming up here.

Posted in Voice 2.0, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

The other way round

Posted by tggokul on November 12, 2006

I love IVRs ( Interactive Voice Response systems). The reason could be that I am not very comfortable talking to customer agents whom I don’t know anything about. ( Remember your mother’s advice when you were young?  ‘Don’t talk to Strangers’). And mix that with my hatred towards waiting on the phone listening to the outdated 80s hip hops, IVR is a perfect thing for me to use. I navigate through what I want and when I can’t find the stuff I need, I accept defeat and ask to be put to an agent. I think IVR is the greatest gift from the telecom industry to common man.

Now I would like to see that when I use the web as well. Say for example I want to search for the movie Terminator. I want options like

  1. Press link 1 to go to Arnold’s Terminator.
  2. Press Link 2 to go to the list of exterminators in your locality.
  3. Still not able to find, what you want , click on this to be connected to an expert.

Ofcourse, the links will have sub menus and finally I should be able to listen to Arnold’s gruff ‘Asta la vista’ . No doubt searching has been made very simple these days, but I am sure most of you can relate when I say, we have a nightmare when we try to search for common words but when put together its actually a valid term. For example try to search for ‘loop loss’. This is a actually a TDM related thing for loss of analog signals, but see what it throws up.

This is where I would like to be connected to a guy who can explain to me what that means.  Yeah, I can see all you cynics’ eyebrows being raised. The obvious questions are

  1. Who is that expert and how does the search engine get the right person for the right question?
  2. Why would the expert want to do this to begin with?
  3. How does the communication take place?

And this is where ‘relevance’ would play a major part. This would mean a very tightly coupled Voice 2.0 and Web 2.0. ( Can I call it Woice 2.0 or something corny like that? ). The presence information of the ‘expert’ has to be maintained ( The poor guy might be sleeping and then you call him and ask him ‘Where do I put this rod  thing?’ and you all know what would be the answer 🙂  ) Business logic propagated by the likes of Iotum and AiQ would need to play a pivotal role. They probably would need to have a mini search engine within themselves to get the right expert who can provide the right information. Maybe this application could send a mail/IM to the expert saying that this is the question and whether he wants to take the call. ( Equate this with a customer’s data going to a call center agent). Then , there would be a clicktotalk application which would enable me to talk to these experts (voice and even video).  Literally, the world becomes one large call center. Rope in some Martians as well and then we could have an universal call center. These would be the answers to questions 1 and 3. For question 2, it would be pure human psychology. Everybody likes attention and throw in a little bit of praise at the end of the conversation and you would be lining up experts left,right and center.

It is always been the case that the best applications of the Web ( like presence, IM) are being adopted in the telecom world. Let us for a change, take this IVR application from the telecom world to the Web world. It is time to give back.

Posted in Voice 2.0, Web 2.0 | 4 Comments »