Coming soon to the contact centre - the iPad?

Shaheen Haque, territory manager, Turkey & Middle East, Interactive Intelligence Inc. wonders whether the iPad could be ideal for mobile contact centre operatives?

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Coming soon to the contact centre - the iPad? Is there a business case for iPads for contact centre workers?
By  Shaheen Haque Published  June 1, 2010

Ok, maybe a bit premature, but I have a buddy that manages a contact center with a contingent of remote agents and a few mobile enterprise users. He loves using the latest bleeding edge technology and playing with any toy he can get his hands on. Whether or not it has a relevant place in his contact center usually takes a back seat to the coolness factor.

Anyway, we are both iPhone addicts and use the Interaction Web Client on our phones.

You can take/make calls from queues, set your presence, manage voicemails, create/host conference calls, search the company directory, etc etc. Does it work? Sure, is it really what an agent would use? No, not really.

Even CRM packages, like Salesforce.com and others have mobile applications. Does it work? Sure. Is it really what an agent or even a heavy mobile user would use? No, not really. In both cases, the screen size just doesn't cut it for a lot of the applications needed.

Well, recently we followed the iPad launch. Personally, I felt it was just a big version of an iPod Touch, and I already have an iPhone for my mobile needs, and a Netbook for actual work, so I pass. But he said he saw a real use for it in his group.

So I had to ask, "Why would you use those?", and I was expecting the standard response "Cuz they're cool !!". CIO's just love that rationale when spending money on technology.

But he stated his case. One of the hassles they have with any remote employee is service and support of the technology they use in the field. And with all the moving parts of desktops and laptops, and users messing with things they shouldn't, they spend more time and money on supporting the technology then they would like. They've already spent a good deal of money to simplify their desktop by putting web front ends on most of their critical applications like CRM and Order Entry, and most of their internal docs are available on a SharePoint site. He felt the iPad had the core of what his remote people needed, simple network connectivity and browser access. And they can't muck with anything.

But what about multitasking? For what, he answered. You can open up the Interaction Web Client in one browser page, the CRM in another and the SharePoint site in a third. Done. Even his agents in the office don't really multitask, they sit in the client until the ACD delivers their next call, switch to the CRM to handle the issue and switch back to the client for wrap-up, occasionally hitting SharePoint for some info they need. And with the ‘restriction settings' his IT group could lock the whole thing down (ie. no loading of apps, no YouTube, no TV Shows, no music) so they can't screw anything up.

In addition, while the iPad is not a phone, it does have support for WiFi and 3G networks, and with Apple also announcing Wednesday they have lifted the ban on VoIP over 3G apps, VoIP apps are already available on iTunes.

"We're not talking about replacing every station with one of these, and there are some heavy mobile users that need more than this device has right now, but for $500 and a set monthly fee for unlimited data, if I could deploy this as my base-line remote device I can erase a lot of the headaches I have today."

It's an interesting idea for a Kindle on steroids. HA!! , just had to throw that out there...

So is iPad going to make any inroads into the enterprise or is it relegated to reading newspapers in Starbucks?

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