As we near the end of the year, I’ve been reflecting on some of the successes we’ve seen over the last ten months – two rounds of significant investment, new office openings, exciting product launches, and we’ve nearly doubled our head count. So I thought it would be a good opportunity to tell you more about how NewVoiceMedia came about, and why we started it in the first place.
The idea behind the business formed in the late '90s – at a time when the call centre industry was dominated by large players all selling expensive proprietary kit. To get the functionality needed to run a contact centre back then, you needed to get lots of expensive pieces of kit from many vendors – your switch from A, your ACD from B, your call logging from C, your call recording from D, your call routing from E, and so on.
On top of all that, you'd have to get a systems integrator in and pay them a fortune to integrate everything. You'd be left with a teetering house of cards that you daren’t touch. Upgrades to any of the components would be a nightmare, change something and you'd have to get the systems integrators in again, driving yet more cost and complexity.
Any changes to the system, adding new agents, changing call plans, all had to be done by the men in white coats in the IT / telecoms department and took ages to get through change control and action.
All this meant that good call centre technology was only available to the largest companies with the deepest pockets. Everything was fundamentally broken and we wanted to fix it.
We saw the way out of this morass was to embrace open standards and move the intelligence from the customer’s premises and into the network.
I'd known Richard Pickering from years before and he invited me onto the CTI technical committee of the IN (Intelligent Network) Forum. The goal was to fix the problem by establishing open standards in the heart of the PSTN and making the capabilities of the best call centres available to everyone. However vested interests won, we could get no agreement from the big manufacturers as they were happy with the status quo.
In 2000, Richard returned to the UK, having done well from the Genesys IPO (he was one of the company’s first employees having recognised the value of CTI early on) and the time was right for both of us to attempt something new.
We both felt strongly that the future of contact centre technology was to take the technology from the customer premise and put it in the network (the term Cloud not having been introduced then). We had thought this through regularly and it had become self-evident.
We knew that we had to:
1. Make it available to any company, of any size
2. Make sure we fully integrated all the functions of the call centre – with no system integration.
3. Make it easy to use, self-configurable and self-managed, which meant all the management had to be web-based
4. Ensure the deployment needed was as easy as possible, with no downloads and no firewall configuration
5. It had to be scalable – which meant that it had to be multi-tenant from the first day
6. It had to be based on open standards, allowing us to move quickly and allowing us to integrate new components and technologies easily
We had the technical know-how to build this, having designed, developed and managed similar systems before. We had the resources and we had the vision.We knew then that someday all contact centres would be run using technology like this.