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Presence capabilities open university help desk

Presence capabilities have helped one university ensure that calls into its help desk reach the person with the right set of skills.

Anyone who's called a help desk will agree that it's often difficult to get the right person on the phone to fix your problem, and that's after navigating through the automated menu that can seem to be leading nowhere.

But one university has been able to ensure that all callers into its IT help desk find the right people to fix their problems, and find them as fast as possible.

Montreal-based Concordia University has tapped BlueNote Networks and recently deployed the BlueNote SessionSuite Presence Service, a set of software-based capabilities that let enterprises and similar organizations add contextual call routing to everyday business applications and processes. According to Alan Rosenberg, BlueNote's director of product line management, the presence service essentially lets companies direct business calls based on certain attributes, such as a user's role, spoken language or activity.

Rosenberg said SessionSuite Presence Service uses presence information to route calls automatically, without pricey call center applications, and can send calls to everyday telephones. It uses Web service APIs to integrate into business applications with very little telephony expertise.

"We have a student-staffed helpline, and each student has different skill levels and skill areas," said Mike Babbin, assistant director of communication for Concordia University ITTS. "We want to make sure specific kinds of help requests go to the right person."

Experimenting a bit with the presence service, Babbin said, has changed the help system from a series of forwarded help tickets to the call's finding its intended target every time.

He said that all users set up a profile and set their own characteristics, picking their skill set and the language they speak. Since Concordia is in Montreal, some students speak French and others speak English, and the presence service can send calls to someone who speaks the appropriate language.

"If you're the end user and you want to talk to someone," Babbin said, "you want the call to get to someone who can help."

Bern Elliot, research vice president with Gartner Inc., said offering presence using high-level Web Service APIs is key.

"This is an important feature because it allows presence capabilities to be integrated easily into software applications and business processes," Elliot said. "The presence information can then be leveraged to automatically route calls as part of an application, giving contextual routing features to ordinary business functions."

The SessionSuite Presence Service is available with SessionSuite SOA and Enterprise Editions and leveraged by SessionSuite Desktop and WebCaller. It is based on SIMPLE, and the software will be included in the SOA and Enterprise Editions at no added charge.

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