Local software integrates call centre, workflow

Identical application used for in-house deployments or hosted service.

Sydney-based software company PipeVines has launched its customer interaction management application as an in-house application or hosted service that integrates call centre voice services with BPM and workflow management tools.

PipeVines CEO Peter Spoto said the company has been successfully trading for eight months after seeing an opportunity for a hosted call centre and workflow application.

"In the old days you needed to invest a lot in hardware and software [now] we can provide an entire solution for about $350 per person, per month," Spoto said.

The company's CIO, Paul Davidson, had worked for Telstra "for a long time" and the idea of being 40 and working for Telstra scared him.

"We started Propensity to develop software for the telco space over ten years ago," Davidson said. "We then realized there was a gap in the market for a workflow product in the small to medium business market so we built a Web-based workflow engine."

After winning a contract selling Propensity back into Telstra, the software had about 300 users and it was then tied into Telstra's Siebel deployment and Davidson set out to build this tool for the mid-market.

Since then PipeVines has done deals with the likes of NEC, Avaya and Genesys, and now has some six "pilot" customers that it is earning revenue from.

"We take PBM and issues management and tie it into call centre equipment," Davidson said, adding the cost of competing solutions is still out of reach of most small businesses.

"So the objective of PipeVines was to handle the integration of software and the call centre and take it to the mid-market," he said.

The first PipeVines customers went live in July 2007 using infrastructure hosted at the Global Switch in Sydney, which delivers both voice and software services.

One of PipeVines' first customers was the Queensland Public Sector Union (QPSU) in Brisbane which was an existing user of the Propensity product on NEC and Genesys.

QPSU industrial services director Steven Miles deals with people that negotiate workplace disputes and has also worked with IT and telecommunications systems. Miles used the call centre software during the last federal election to contact people regarding workplace rights.

QPSU had 30,000 members and wanted to canvass them to see how they would vote in the election.

During the election period QPSU increased its call centre from 15 to 75 staff for a three-month period, normally requiring additional hardware and software.

Instead, the QPSU installed softphones on PCs and used its data network to deliver voice services to call 25,000 swinging voters.

"We wanted to equip our call centre without the upfront costs," Miles said, adding it was a per-seat, per-day licensing agreement. "Our NEC PABX had a limited number of IP phones we could deploy."

Miles believes the level of intimacy and trust was much higher than if the call centre operations had been outsourced.

PipeVines offers an in-house software solution or a 100 percent hosted call centre to cater for customer requirements.

Some of PipeVines' software is built around Microsoft's SharePoint and Davidson sees its unified communications server offering as a platform that can be leveraged.

"Microsoft's desktop application is presence-aware and what Genesys does with Expert comes standard with Microsoft," Davidson said.

PipeVines customers are from a range of industries, from government organizations to printing and telecommunications.

All software is developed by a team of seven core developers in Sydney and is built around Microsoft's .Net environment, and the application can be integrated with Cobol and Java.

PipeVines does not outsource any development and is looking to establish a presence in Miami in the US.

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