Breaking the voice-data barrier

Adam Sudol remembers his voice specialist’s prickly attitude toward working with the company’s data team to roll out a VoIP system at a call centre in Peterborough, Ont., less than a year ago. “”He said, ‘Voice is a different beast. Data guys don’t get it, and they never will,'”” recalls Sudol, director

of IT at Toronto-based Multi Channel Communications Inc., a provider of outsourced call-centres.

The voice specialist lived to eat humble pie about a month later when the entire IT infrastructure at MCCI’s newest call centre — including voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which relays voice signals over the same network as data — was up and running, thanks largely to the data team.

“”We’ve broken the voice versus data barrier,”” says Sudol. “”It became a requirement to march together, and now everyone has hybrid roles.””

The resistance Sudol initially faced is far from unique. There are a number of reasons for this friction, including the fact the voice and data disciplines come from different IT cultures. But as Sudol’s data experts learned more about voice and obtained greater access to routers and switches, the combined team naturally began to mesh.

Sudol is now looking at the possibility of opening as many as two new call centres in 2005. Will he turn to VoIP again? “”I haven’t made a decision either way,”” he says. In the meantime, Sudol has solved an important piece of the VoIP puzzle: how to make his voice and data people work together effectively.

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