More than 60% of contact centres have introduced internet protocol (IP) based or hybrid IP exchange technology, new research has found.

This was a significant increase from the 50% recorded last year by Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2007 complied by IT services provider Dimension Data

It said convergence, primarily driven by the increased acceptance of IP and improved reliability, scalability and proven benefits that come with maturing product sets, is leading the changes in contact centre technology.

The report also found contact centres are gaining a better understanding of the business benefits of an IP environment. The top reason given for a move to IP is flexibility of architecture (69.0%), which is followed by cost savings (66.1%). Other reasons include compliance with corporate technology policies (31.1%), end-of-life technologies that need to be upgraded or replaced (30.1%), and improved business functionality (29.0%).

IP is a protocol used to transport information across networks. Converged IP technologies allow contact centres to take advantage of applications across the organisation network as they aim to improve customer satisfaction and operational effectiveness.

Cara Diemont, editor of the Report explains: “Convergence, in its simplest form, is the combination of previously separate entities - data and telephony systems, networks and equipment. Since contact centres depend on a range of information and communications technology, converged technology can significantly increase efficiencies. Benefits include allowing agents to handle contacts, access customer information more quickly and, more importantly, enable contacts to be handled throughout the organisation.”

The Report findings also show increased usage in two technologies strongly impacted by convergence – computer telephony integration (CTI) and universal queues. Over half of contact centres (53.4%) currently use CTI while 23.3% are planning to do so. Also, 28.0% have implemented and 15.9% plan to install universal queues.

The research also found organisations spend some £2,500 per month per agent seat to provide customer service through their contact centres. This includes staff, technology and other facilities and management costs. When applied to an estimated 6.5 million contact centre seats worldwide, this translates to an investment of £17 billion.

The results of the report were gathered from 403 contact centres located across 42 countries surveyed, which Dimension Data said underscored the need for management to ensure greater productivity and effectiveness from contact centre resources.