Broker goes cautiously to IP telephony

Finance brokerage Merrill Lynch is still wrestling with IP telephony and will not make a final decision on widespread implementation until 2005, the company's global private client technology director, Chris Reimers said last week.

Reimers said the company is still wrestling with the IP versus TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) debate as there are areas of the business nervous about being on nothing but IP.

In non-critical areas that do not process trading transactions, he said IP is fine, but fears still remain which is why the company is "doing IP in a very cautious manner".

Speaking at G Force - the Genesys user conference - in Melbourne, Reimers said the company is only weeks away from completing its migration from a Nortel platform to a complete Genesys environment with plans to integrate toward a single interface with full Siebel CRM and computer-telephony integration (CTI).

Merrill Lynch has two geographical call centres in the US and 620 branch offices.

Reimers said the goal is for the financial advisors at branch offices to have access to the same information that is available to call centre agents giving them the best tools to support their clients.

"But there is no CTI in branch offices and the current PABX infrastructure makes it prohibitively expensive; currently there is no data passing between the two at present, it is pretty much a brick wall," Reimers said.

"A PABX upgrade is under way and we envision reaching this goal by introducing CTI in branch offices next year." The project has gone to tender and Reimers said a number of vendors included IP telephony in their bids.

"This is a very expensive project but it has strong executive support so a pilot should go ahead at the end of the year; we will make our IP telephony decision on the back of this project which is only in phase one," he said.

Sandra Rossi attended G Force as a guest of Genesys

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