My colleague Jane Fiander’s “Seeing is believing” blog got me thinking a little about the IT implications of all this new portable technology (in particularly Apple’s FaceTime application – available on the iPhone 4G and the IPod touch 4G).
Given the ubiquitous nature of the mobile phone, the almost exponential growth of the smartphone (to replace our previous ‘dumbphones’ L) and a growing consumer expectation that we have, finally (after so many false starts) been handed the technology to make video calls amongst our friends and families begs the question “what will this do to the existing IT infrastructures needed to support all this?” This is a question that deserves to be answered not just from the point of view of the telephony providers but also from the companies and organisations that provide telephone contact centres as part of their customer experience management.
Already we have seen in the US, where AT&T has exclusivity for the iPhone market, a mounting concern over service delivery and the real challenges of bandwidth provision. This is even before they factor an inevitable growing demand for FaceTime video calls. We can only imagine what would happen should everyone who has such a device decide to make a video call at the same time – unlikely but…
And with this kind of compelling advertising from Apple, who could blame them?
As an IT manager for Percepta this is something that has been exercising my mind for some time. Whilst Jane, our training manager, mulls over the implications for our agents, I have to consider what the IT implications might be should we (or perhaps that should be ‘when we’) embrace this new technology as part of our business offering. Right now, I have no easy answers.
Even with standard telephone calls being processed through a standard network infrastructure there is always the constant challenge of managing the QoS (Quality of service) to ensure that our agents are delivered the best quality voice experience whilst the infrastructure is also carrying data to support our CRM application. On the one hand if agents can’t hear the customer properly that diminishes the customer experience whilst on the other hand the CRM application is designed to capture details of the call to help with our reporting and monitoring. If its performance is impaired then we can’t provide all the added value that comes from this data capture exercise.
I can’t even begin to imagine what introducing video streaming to the equation would do for our bandwidth and our QoS calculations.
To slightly misquote police chief Brody (aka Roy Schneider in Jaws), “We’re going to need a bigger gun!” The only problem being, that in today’s economic climate, the best we can afford might be firing BBs instead of RPGs… if you get my drift?
I’m sure I’m not alone in my concerns… It probably isn’t an exaggeration to imagine groups of CIOs / IT managers huddling around coffee shops all across the globe, bracing themselves as the smartphone avalanche trundles inexorably closer. Sticking our heads in the sand is not an option. “Pass the latte!”
Not that it’s all ‘doom and gloom’… The companies that can figure it out (the bandwidth issue, the call recording issue, the video storage requirements when customers send nice little HD videos to show us the growing rust problems on our products, etc) will, in the words of our favourite Vulcan, “Live long and prosper”
So, answers on a postcard, please!
Or, if you prefer, leave me a comment in the box below. I look forward to hearing from you. By the way, my FaceTime handle is… just kidding!
Until next time.