Infotech wanted to enter the IT Enabled Services space
and decided to set up a call center in Kolkata. Although
inexperienced in the call center business, the company
decided upon the appropriate technology and solution
platform after evaluation. by Soutiman Das Gupta
Infotech decided to enter the IT Enabled Services (ITES)
space because it felt that this area had a lot of business
potential. It received a mandate from the Health Management
Organization (HMO) in USA to support its call center
in Tampa, Florida. And in order to support the operations
of this facility, Manjushree Infotech decided to set
up a call center in Kolkata with the required infrastructure.
Manjushree Infotech is a part of the B.K. Birla
Group of Companies. It wanted to enter the IT
Enabled Services space and decided to set up
a call center in Kolkata.
Since it had no experience in call centers the
company had to decide upon the appropriate technology
and platform on which to construct the solution.
The company deployed an appropriate call center
solution which had QoS features and supported
voice, data, and multimedia integration capabililties.
The call center is able to support 1,600 incoming
calls a day. Customers can use multiple reporting
capabilities through e-mail, voice, and the
Web. It enables the company to track expenses
and agent productivity.
The plan was to build a small setup comprising 25 seats
which could scale up when business picked up and new
clients were acquired. The company had to keep a number
of aspects in mind in order to plan the setup.
"We had to look for a technology platform and a
call center solution that would be quick to deploy keeping
in mind our customer's need, address our expansion plans,
and support a future need for convergence," said
Sam Swaminathan, CEO, Manjushree Infotech.
The solution had to be scalable enough to support the
company's expansion plans. It had to be built on an
integrated single infrastructure in order to exploit
the convergence in data, voice, and video. It was compulsory
for the WAN to have QoS features since voice would be
the primary medium of communication. And the solution
had to support multimedia applications and use the benefits
of convergence to deliver multiple modes of interaction
It was also important to build the converged, multi-service
infrastructure based on IP. The availability of a wide
variety of applications on IP for voice, data and video
were highlighted as key drivers for the adoption of
technology. And this infrastructure had to interoperate
seamlessly with legacy PBX, based on TDM voice in the
"Since we had no prior experience with call centers
and there were various solutions available in the market
to address our needs, we decided to adopt an extensive
evaluation process. All vendors presented their suggested
technology direction for voice and video to our decision-makers
and teams of technical consultants belonging to our
customer in the US," said Amit Choudhury, Principal
Consultant, Manjushree Infotech.
The company conducted discussions with various vendors
like Lucent, Nortel, and Cisco for architectural designs
and directions for the call center technology.
"We chose Cisco because it had the requisite experience
and expertise in setting up call centers. Cisco also
promised to stay focused on customer satisfaction and
offered an end-to-end solution," said Swaminathan.
The implementation process began with the setup of a
WAN, which connected Kolkata to the Tampa Florida-based
call center. A 512K leased line link was set up via
satellite. The link connected to the LAN at the Manjushree
call center in Kolkata. This allowed the call center
agents to communicate with HMO's US customers.
The company deployed Cisco's IP Voice Gateway and LAN
gear, like the Cisco 3600 series routers and the Cisco
4000 series switch. The IP Voice Gateway was linked
with the legacy PBX in the US and supported TDM voice
call termination in the US. It also allowed the conversion
of calls to IP for transporting to India.
The company then deployed Cisco IPCC (IP Contact Center)
and Cisco IP Telephony solutions at the call center
LAN at Kolkata.
Cisco's IPCC & IP Telephony solution comprised:
Cisco Intelligent Contact Management (ICM)
Cisco IP IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
Cisco Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) Desktop
Cisco Collaboration Server
Cisco Call Manager
Cisco IP Phones
"There were a few delivery issues with the equipment
which were solved quickly. The Call Manager software
needed to be tuned a bit and router software versions
had to be upgraded", said Choudhury.
recovery set up
Two UPSs take over in case of a failure. Each
is capable of supporting the entire load for
40 minutes. A full load generator can take over
within two minutes of a blackout.
Each Cisco Catalyst 4006 switch has two modules
with 48 ports in each. This can support 48 agent
Contact Manager software
The central controlling system of the call center
is the Intelligent Contact Manager (ICM) software
from Cisco. Two Compaq DL 380 servers running
two copies of ICM that mirror each other act
as failover in case of disaster.
Call Manager software
The primary system that controls all the calls
of the call center is the Central Call Manager
(CCM) from Cisco. The setup has two CCMs running
on separate hardware boxes that act as a failover
for the other.
The solutions helped to combine software Automated Call
Distribution (ACD) functionality with IP telephony in
a unified environment. The call center can also extend
its current infrastructure to connect other geographically
distant contact centers it may open in future.
The ICM software provides ACD functionality including
monitoring and control of agent state, routing and queuing
of contacts, CTI capabilities, real-time data for agents
and supervisors, and historical reporting. The IVR unit
performs self-service functions and call treatment messages
to queued callers.
The CTI Desktop delivers a set of customer-specific
information collected from the Internet, carrier networks,
IVRs, databases, and other applications to the desktop
of the call center agents. The agent can view the data
and get pop-up screens which provide more information.
The Cisco Collaboration Server provides customers multiple
communication choices like e-mail and Web-based chat.
And the Cisco Call Manager software provides traditional
PBX telephony features and functions like basic call
processing, signaling, and connection services to a
packet telephony device like an IP phone.
VoIP gateway was deployed at the Tampa Florida call
FRUITS OF LABOR
The call center began operations on January 04, 2000
and now handles around 1,600 incoming calls a day. Each
call consumes around 11.2 Kbps bandwidth.
The company is able to integrate PSTN and Web-based
communication channels through Web collaboration and
e-mail response management capabilities. Since the solution
is on IP, the architecture is open, and able to support
interoperability with other vendor devices and applications.
The solution also provides multiple reporting capabilities
with various views of resource utilization. It enables
the company to track expenses and agent productivity
and provides dynamic reporting to end-customers.
The company plans to increase the number of seats to
100 and perhaps more when new customers are acquired.
It also plans to upgrade its WAN link to 2 Mbps.
Das Gupta can be reached at email@example.com