Recently, both CTI Group and Telrex announced the release of new hosted voice over IP call recording solutions. CTI’s SmartRecord IP and Telrex’s CallRex Hosted will let service providers offer call recording as a value added service, and can also make it possible to record calls that are routed to remote or home-based call-center agents. While CTI Group boasts that it serves over 50 percent of Fortune 500 enterprises, Telrex targets its solutions to the small and medium business market.
Sid Rao, CTI’s chief technologist, says SmartRecord IP was developed in response to a shift in the market towards hosted voice over IP services, which don’t work well with premise-based recorders. “If you have a remote call-center agent, unless they’re wired into your internal network, you won’t be able to record their calls,” he says. “So we created a solution that scales incredibly well for the hosted VoIP market, where you can record the conversation of any sales agent or any distributed call center agent, regardless of where they are or what their network connectivity is to the central switch.”
Much of the interest in hosted VoIP, Rao says, springs from the growth in the number of home-based call center agents. “The number of stay-at-home call center agents today is a couple hundred thousand; in a couple of years, it’s going to be a couple million in the United States alone,” he says. “Many of these are mothers taking care of children and preferring to work from home. Well, voice over IP enables these scenarios very effectively, but the biggest problem is if you can’t record that conversation by that remote agent, you really can’t stay within regulatory compliance.”
It’s the solution’s scalability, Rao says, that differentiates SmartRecord IP from other products. “We’re the best in the market in terms of scaling right now—we’ve launched a patent with regards to that ability to scale,” he says. “And we’re actually in the middle of several implementations of hosted call-recording solutions today: In the next couple of months, you’ll see them come online.”
Bob Cordes, Telrex’s vice president of product management and marketing, says the ability for a service provider to offer call recording as a value added service is a key selling point for CallRex Hosted. “It’s deployed at the service provider’s network operations center—and now the service provider can offer call recording to all their customers, small and medium businesses, in the same way that they would currently be offering voicemail—as a check-box feature,” he says.
Both companies also offer customer-premise equipment (CPE) -based solutions, SmartRecord and CallRex Professional—which, as Cordes points out, gives the customer a range of options. “If the customer wants a CPE-based product in the sense that maybe they want to have that server on-site with a financial institution or a healthcare firm or whatever, they’re certainly able to do that. Or the service provider can offer call recording to a customer who doesn’t want to actually host the server themselves,” Cordes says.
In any case, as Cordes points out, there are a lot of arguments for choosing the hosted solution. “They don’t have to invest in any capital costs up front; they don’t have to have the resources on-site to configure and administer and manage CallRex Professional; and for them it’s just an additional service that they’re purchasing on a monthly basis from the service provider,” he says.
And Cordes says the end user experience is virtually identical with either solution. “Probably the biggest difference is that CallRex Hosted has a Web-based user interface, so the customer would open Internet Explorer, point the browser back to the service provider’s site—and then they can, through that Web interface, see all their recorded calls, monitor calls that are happening live, access recorded calls, search for recorded calls, etc.”
While many businesses in the financial and healthcare industries are already required to maintain call recording solutions due to regulatory obligations, Cordes says hosted call recording could bring in a whole new customer base. “I do think it’s going to open up new markets, because with CallRex Hosted, from a small or medium business’ perspective, there’s no real up-front capital cost,” he says. “They’d sign up for call recording the same way they would sign up for voicemail or any other value added feature that the service provider is offering.”