Two technologies – telephones and computers – continue to revolutionize the way the world communicates. Prevalent for more than a century in offices, public establishments and homes, telephones now offer wireless, go-anywhere ubiquity. And, thanks to laptops and PDAs, computers are, quickly catching

up.

However, these two technologies historically have remained separate. Often, the only thing in common has been the desk on which they both sit. But Computer Telephony has combined the best of telephone and computer technology to let people exchange information more quickly and easily over the phone. Because it’s everywhere, the phone remains relevant in the Internet Era as an information access threshold.

The power driving Computer Telephony is telephone network access to computer information through almost any convenient, easy-to-use, and available terminal device, including: Telephones (pulse dial, touch-tone, and wireless) Pagers Facsimile (fax) machines Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) Personal Computers (PCs)

These terminal devices access a multi-user Computer Telephony platform that supports applications that process the information within the call and/or route and monitor the progress of the call. These functions of the Computer Telephony platform are an integral part of enterprise information systems.

Computer Telephony systems can range from simple voice mail to multimedia gateways. The equipment used in these systems includes voice response units (VRUs), fax servers, speech recognition and voice recognition hardware, and Intelligent Peripherals that are deployed by telephone companies.

Businesses need to leverage the power of diverse, multi-user Computer Telephony systems to improve productivity, give users more access to information, and provide communications options and services to both customers and employees. For example:

Bank customers can use the telephone to access their personal account information stored in the bank’s main computer.

Business customers can use the telephone to automatically receive information about a product through a fax machine.

Employees can access computer-managed voice, fax, and even data (text messages and other information) through telephones, computers, or both, to effectively connect offsite workers to the office and to expand relationships with the external community.

Computer Telephony opened up the power of sophisticated telephony systems to businesses large and small during the ’90s in the same way that the PC industry opened up in the 1980s. In a little over a decade, the Computer Telephony industry grew to encompass many diverse applications and technologies.

Today, communications technologies are converging at a rapid rate. What began as voice mail and computer-based fax applications has progressed to voice portals, web-enabled contact centers, and unified messaging solutions that incorporate the latest advancements in speech recognition and Internet telephony. By helping the way people communicate, converged communications let organizations increase their competitive edge through improved customer relationship management and employee productivity.

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