Obsolescence of CTI against Unified Communications (UC): Aspect Software

Author: Aspect Software

Date: 2nd March 2009

Contact center technology is ever evolving to meet the rapidly changing demands of consumers and businesses. Computer telephony integration (CTI) – once touted as state-of-the-art for managing customer interactions, is the latest technology facing retirement. It has become an outdated technology that is actually hindering contact centers from satisfying customers. And, it’s time to say goodbye to CTI.

CTI is limiting the control, choice, and flexibility that contact centers could be experiencing. It creates numerous business challenges for companies – in particular, the IT department – requiring a heavy investment of time, money, and resources to integrate applications from multiple, siloed products to make it useful to the business. To be sure, CTI has delivered some productivity gains, but at a steep cost. CTI’s benefits have been limited to the narrow market segment of large enterprises that have the money and development staff to handle complex software integration projects, both initially and ongoing, because of the costly change management that comes with frequent technology updates for individual point solutions. Happily, as CTI runs its course, a better solution has emerged.

Unified architectures are making CTI obsolete. By uniting multiple capabilities – including automatic call distribution (ACD), predictive dialing, speech self service, Internet contact via email or chat, recording, and logging and quality management, all with unified reporting, routing and administration – in a single platform, unified solutions give contact centers the necessary control, flexibility, and freedom to focus on cost-effectively meeting today’s consumer’s demands.


No two contact centers are exactly alike, but they all have one thing in common: they all need flexibility and agility to respond to rapidly changing customer demands and market shifts, always with an eye toward the bottom line. Communications and contact center technologies have advanced over the years to help contact centers better serve customer needs and control costs. Three basic technology architectures have emerged in this ongoing evolution.
- 1970s – Standalone products, such as automatic call distributors (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), and predictive dialers
- 1980s and 1990s – Computer telephony integration (CTI)
- 2000s – Unified solutions architected around standards-based Internet Protocol (IP) telephony

The evolution of these technologies can be tied to the overall changes that have been taking place in the contact center throughout the last 30 years. Contact centers are being asked to address a myriad of customer interactions that are increasingly more strategic to the business. Likewise, contact center technologies have evolved in response.

CTI – A Promise Never Completely Fulfilled

The first CTI products were developed in the late 1980s, and the market began to grasp and implement CTI concepts in the early 1990s. A new industry was born, as a flurry of CTI companies were launched, and trade shows and magazines were founded under the CTI banner.

At first, the much-vaunted promise of this technology was to integrate the hodgepodge of technologies that had been introduced in rapid succession to contact centers, from the telephone to ACD, IVR, dialer, fax, call recording systems, and voicemail systems, to name a few. These disparate systems, typically provided by multiple vendors, created a major operational challenge for the IT organization.

In addition, CTI promised to correlate the caller on the phone system with the customer data in the company’s databases to empower agents with information about the customer. CTI systems interfaced with both the telephony network and customer data network to provide a “Screen Pop” to the agent when an inbound call arrived from the ACD or an outbound call dialed by the predictive dialer was about to be connected to the agent. CTI “middleware” systems connected with the ACDs, dialers, messaging systems and customer databases to allow data to be shared among these applications.

To be sure, when CTI worked, cost savings could be achieved, however CTI implementations had a number of shortcomings brought on by their own complexity.For example, they were often difficult and expensive to implement and ultimately never solved the underlying business challenge that has plagued contact centers since their inception – how to deliver a consistent level of service to customers across all interactions in a cost-effective manner.

Instead, CTI opened a Pandora’s Box of technology challenges:

- Multiple points of integration. Every system, every application, every device on the network is an integration point that carries its own risks and operational challenges, creating multiple points of potential failure.
- Multiple places of administration. Contact center administrators have to manually manage business rules and configuration data among multiple systems and keep them in sync.
- Technology updates and incompatibilities. IT departments face the ongoing challenge of keeping the contact center operational whenever a new version of a technology is implemented. One update can create new incompatibilities with many other technologies.
- Performance issues. As calls go through the various CTI overhead processes, the speed of overall call processing and operations can be negatively impacted.

Aspect Software

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