Wireless, PDAs, and the Call Center of the Future

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By Jim Becker

We all are familiar with cell phones but is everyone ready for the wireless revolution.

Wired telephones and wired connections to the network will be challenged in a few years. Your customers are already starting to use the new wireless phones and devices and they will be asking you to interface to these devices and relay their messages to them. As an example the Palm personal digital assistants (PDA) were one of the hottest adult Christmas gifts in 2000. Many of these Personal Devices like Palms, PSion, Sony, Clie, IBM Workpad, the HP Jornanda and the Handspring from Microsoft are now adding a wireless interface.

Users can now interface to their stock quotes, their schedule, their messages and even browse the Internet. Doctors and nurses are using PDA’s as a portable primary information source on patients, schedules, appointments and messages within the hospital. Palm and most of the other PDA manufactures have now announced an interface to the cell phone network. The merging of these two technologies will mean more challenges for the Call Centers. Users will update their status with their center, they will look for their appointments, schedules and messages sent automatically to their enhanced cell phone/PDA. So when they need the information, it is waiting for them.

Call Centers will need to keep more information on customers and be able to interface with these devices in order to meet their customer’s demands. The new wireless devices will be true communication devices.

Wireless local area networks (LAN) are another part of the wireless revolution. Wireless local LANs are now available allowing LAN networks to stretch almost anywhere in a building without wires. Combine this with wireless telephony and you will no longer need your operators grouped together and tied together with wires.

Wireless will also affect the Internet operation of the Call Center. As the cost comes down on wireless, Call Centers will be able to have local and remote instant access to the Internet via a wireless connection. In several European countries wireless is installed in more homes and businesses than wired phone. In Finland and Sweden wireless cell phones with enhanced services can now, not only receive stock and Internet information, they can also send and receive text messages, are used for banking transactions at ATMs and can be used with vending machines instead of using money (they initiate an electronic bank transfer).

The next generation of wireless will be based on 3G Technology, NGN and Blue Tooth Technology. 3G is a universal standard that is about to be deployed world wide allowing for voice and data-intensive smart phones. Blue Tooth is a short-ranged universal wireless interface that allows wireless devices to interface directly with appliances, computers and other devices. Basically it will allow users to open doors, turn on lights, start the stove and interact with other wireless devices all via a personal wireless device.

NGN (Next-Generation Networks) represents a fundamental shift in wireless and core networks from circuit switching to packet switching. NGN will be core technology that will allow agents to process calls from local and remote locations via a wireless connection. Agents will have wireless access to the Internet and will use this connection to receive and transmit voice and data to clients.

Clients within a few years will be demanding universal messaging. This means no matter what device they are using, enhanced cell phones, wireless PDA’s, fax Internet connection or standard telephone they will expect their messages and information to be available on these devices. Phillips Imfotech Research indicates that sixty percent of firms of five hundred plus employees will implement and expect suppliers to interface to their universal messaging system by the year 2003.

A large percentage of these users will have enhanced wireless devices. Call Centers will need to interface to their clients devices for updates on their schedule, to find out who is on call, and they will use it for a directory search, and receive and transmit messages.

Wireless will be our future. It will be the medium for all communications anywhere in the world. Are you ready for the wireless revolution?

Jim Becker has been with Amtelco for 18 years. He is vice president of sales and marketing and the Director of the Amtelco XDS Division which has numerous wireless accounts, utilizing XDS technology. Contact Jim at 800-356-9148.

[From Connection Magazine – January 2001]

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