Aspect Software Practices What it Preaches with Asterisk Business Edition Implementation

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Interest in open-source implementations has been steadily growing in the wider technology community and has now entered the communications arena. Companies are beginning to recognize open source as a viable telephony option for an IP PBX. The reasons for this increase interest: lower costs, extreme flexibility, highly customizable applications and even heightened security protection. Adoption of this newer telephony platform is definitely on the rise in smaller organizations, yet large-scale implementations of open-source IP PBXs are a more recent phenomenon.

One contact center vendor has been offering an open-source IP PBX package to its customers and prospects betting that this technology will see higher adoption in the near future, and decided to implement the solution in its own facilities to take advantages of the many benefits.

Making the Move

In 2006, Aspect Software was in the process of moving the location of its corporate headquarters from Westford, to Chelmsford, Mass., and considered implementation of a new PBX solution to manage both its business and technical support calls. In its new corporate headquarters, the company needed to install a phone system that could support 270 general business users and 34 remote employees. The company also determined it wanted the PBX to support more than 100 contact center agents from its Aspect Technical Services group via integration with the company’s own contact center solution.

Requirements and Challenges

Aspect Software needed to provide PBX functionality for new headquarters on an IP-based infrastructure, and also limit costs of moving an existing PBX or purchasing a new one. The company also had to ensure stability of the system to enable its mission-critical contact center to operate with zero downtime. And, it needed to be able to interoperate seamlessly with the company’s unified contact center product, Aspect Unified IP. Aspect Software also identified a number of other requirements:

  • Sustainable reliability and stability to support mission-critical contact center operations
  • Customizable
  • Flexibility to support future growth
  • SIP-based VoIP capabilities

The Right Solution

Although Aspect had several options available, the company recognized it had a great opportunity to implement a customizable and flexible IP PBX solution.

“As a reseller of Asterisk Business Edition from Digium Inc., we have seen first-hand the value our customers experience by implementing an open source IP PBX,” said Ralph Breslauer, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Aspect Software. “The move to our new corporate headquarters provided us with a unique opportunity to practice what we’ve been preaching, to show that a SIP-based open-source IP PBX can deliver all of the capabilities that a closed-source solution offers, and much more, at a mere fraction of the cost.”

And, because Aspect Software had witnessed many of its customers experiencing the value of implementing an open source IP PBX, the company felt it should seize this chance to reap the same benefits with its own Asterisk Business Edition implementation.

Asterisk Business Edition is designed to provide companies with a rich, flexible set of SIP-based IP PBX features. The open-source platform offers all of the call-handling capabilities expected of more expensive, closed PBX systems at a substantially reduced cost, providing the technology required to address the needs of the dynamic contact center.

Because of its SIP-based VoIP capabilities, the Asterisk Business Edition can readily interoperate with the entire Aspect Software product portfolio, including the company’s leading unified contact center product, Aspect Unified IP, which provides automatic call distributor (ACD), voice portal, dialer, recording and quality management capabilities. This wide range of functionality is necessary to help the Aspect Technical Services team manage the company’s important customer service inquiries. As a result, Aspect Software customers can depend on Aspect Technical Services and call into the technical support center to resolve any technical issues and receive timely service and support. The Asterisk Business Edition and Aspect Unified IP are critical for Aspect Software to provide reliable 24/7/365 e-mail, Web and telephone service to ensure customer satisfaction.

Reaping the Benefits

Aspect Software completed its headquarters move in April 2007. Aspect Technical Services worked closely with the IT department to ensure the new IP PBX had the required infrastructure in place for a smooth implementation.

“Our PBX doesn’t just manage calls to our corporate employees, we also wanted it to interoperate with our unified solution to handle all of the calls coming into our technical support contact center,” said Jamie Ryan, senior vice president and chief information officer at Aspect Software.

“Since we pride ourselves on providing responsive and timely customer service, it was critical that our telephony platform was completely reliable and secure. If our support center is down, our customers won’t be able to contact us and have their mission-critical contact center issues addressed immediately. We had to make sure we could depend on our IP PBX, and after extensive testing and customizing, it was clear that the Digium solution wouldn’t let us down.”

The Asterisk Business Edition required less wiring throughout the new headquarters between offices, resulting in immediate cost savings. The reduced costs for wiring, hardware and licenses for the new IP PBX saved the company more than $100,000 just on implementation alone. Since Asterisk Business Edition is interoperating with Aspect Unified IP, the company will also see significant savings in remote agent costs, since Aspect is planning to migrate all remote agents from a TDM to an IP-enabled environment in the near future. The IP-enabled environment will allow the company to eliminate the toll charges and operational costs of remote agents and sites, saving tens of thousands of dollars a year, according to Ryan’s ROI estimation.

The Digium solution provides the infrastructure for Aspect Unified IP to efficiently manage and route customer calls to the most appropriate agent, based on product-specific inquiries and agent skill sets. The Asterisk Business Edition also offers dial-by-name directories and an automated attendant for business users as part of the standard implementation. These features help Aspect Software deliver a positive customer experience through the technical support center.

“The results experienced by Aspect Software is a perfect example of open-source telephony’s potential impact on the enterprise,” said Mark Spencer, creator of Asterisk and CTO of Digium. “Companies like Aspect are leading the industry by implementing Asterisk-based Digium open source solutions that are proven to provide higher cost savings, greater flexibility and easier integration than closed source solutions.”

“Asterisk allows us to have full autonomy from other vendors in operating our IP PBX,” added Ryan. “Since it is an open-source solution and we built our system ourselves, we don’t have to work with an outside provider to help us with ongoing maintenance. Working with Asterisk is an evolutionary process — our internal team will learn more and more about what the IP PBX can do and as our needs change, we can turn on new functionality and capabilities in the future, as we continue to seek out new ways to improve the customer experience.”

After a successful implementation, Aspect Software continues to seek new ways to further enhance its telephony infrastructure and deliver a positive customer experience. The company has subsequently incorporated the Asterisk Business Edition open-source IP PBX as it moved to a new office in San Jose, Calif., and will do the same for all future office moves or openings.

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