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Because the hardware extensions are modular, adjunct units, it is simple to remove or trade these units, allowing a single DSP core to be developed into many different devices targeted at different applications. Also, hardware extensions are not necessarily as general purpose as core functional units and often provide more-focused, higher-performance routines.

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Because the hardware extensions are modular, adjunct units, it is simple to remove or trade these units, allowing a single DSP core to be developed into many different devices targeted at different applications. Also, hardware extensions are not necessarily as general purpose as core functional units and often provide more-focused, higher-performance routines.

While simulation-based staffing models may take longer to run than analytic ones, they have the advantage of producing staffing numbers that reflect the way your call center really operates. Blue Pumpkin's (Sunnyvale, CA – 408-830-5400, wwnw.bluepumpkin.com) Director Enterprise simulates agent schedules to find the combination that comes closest to meeting service level objectives. If Director Enterprise tells you that you're not meeting service goals due to agent resource limitations, its Workforce Staffing module suggests who you'll need to hire, with a breakdown by skills, to make up for the agent shortfall. If you want to see how the call center is performing, use Director Enterprise's Pulse. It displays real-time reports comparing forecasted statistics with the current numbers collected by the ACD.

ESI

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ESI's (Herzliya, Israel – 972-9-970-2500, www.esi-knowledge.com) OptiWise chooses from over 50 separate analytic forecasting techniques to predict call load. OptiWise finds the best technique for each timeslot, so its forecasts come closer to matching centers' micro-trends. And its web-based e-SchedulerR lets employees swap shift time without requiring a trip to the supervisor's desk.

ISC

Irene Enterprise, from ISC (New York, NY – 212-477-8800, www.isc.com), lets you force solutions that not only meet service and cost objectives, but protect agents from burn-out. Their agent optimization” approach reasons that theoretically optimal scheduling solutions may require optimal agent performance at all times – an unrealistic goal – and that agents whose performance is characteristically good may be overburdened by a scheduler that views them as a historically dependable, high-performance asset.” The system reviews custom constraints, therefore, to balance workload fairly among skilled and less-skilled personnel.

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Irene's staffing module is not simulation based. According to David Koosis, vice president of strategy, its talented group of mathematicians has created an accurate analytic model of a multi-skill call center. Also, it uses an adaptive learning algorithm that takes into account team performance” to obtain a more accurate staffing estimate over time. Irene On-line is the hosted version of the same software and is available on a fee-for-service basis.

IEX

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Call centers with complex ACD scripts may not be suitable for formula-based staffing software. IEX's (Richardson, TX – 800-433-7692, www.iex.com) TotalView 2's embedded simulator integrates with IEX's multi-skill scheduler to create schedules that will meet service level goals. More than just a planning tool, TotalView includes an Intraday Management module that can reforecast service levels during the workday and make recommendations to keep your call center within spec.

PIPKINS

The record everything” crowd (E911 and emergency, banking and trading, air traffic control, and other industries concerned with life-and-limb, big dollars, and/or auditability and regulatory compliance) has historically accounted for about 15% of the market.

Predictably, since September 11, that market sector is showing increased activity. Law enforcement, emergency services, and similar operations are suddenly motivated to upgrade aging infrastructure or to expand investments in modern, computer telephony-based call recording systems.

Says David Lezak, president of Wygant Scientific: In the traditional 911 centers, a lot of the recording technology is out of date. We've seen an enormous number of 911 centers converting over to digital technologies – technologies that do better envelope-capture, ANI and DNIS. What we're hearing is that people in the 911 space want to have instant access and recall and the ability to do sorts and searches on these recordings, so [call recording] becomes a useful tool.”

There is also some crossover business, reports Lezak, from companies and institutions that already use on-demand and selective call recording for training, call center quality-control, or legal purposes (e.g., customer agreement verification), but are now electing to expand capacity and/or explore bulk call recording for security purposes. Examples include utility companies, hotels and resorts, travel agencies, and some schools and colleges. As time goes on, other newly strategic” industries will likely feel compelled to follow: Think sellers of chemicals, heavy equipment, radio equipment, and pharmaceutical and laboratory products.

The digital technologies” Lezak mentions – made by companies like Wygant, CVDS, Thales and others (see roundup) – are CT-based products: typically fault-resilient servers containing T1/PRI interfaced DSP boards; significant onboard disk space (usually RAID 5) for short-term storage of voice recordings; and removable media drives (today, mostly optical) for archiving. Software running on the box may be controlled through a Windows or Unix/Linux GUI on the host, or accessed from a network-linked workstation running a client or (increasingly) a browser.

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