<communications> (CTI or "- Telephony -") Enabling computers to know about and control telephony functions such as making and receiving voice, fax and data calls, telephone directory services and caller identification.
CTI is used in call centres to link incoming calls to computer software functions such as database look-up of the caller's number, supported by services such as Automatic Number Identification and Dialled Number Identification Service.
Application software (middleware) can link personal computers and servers with telephones and/or a PBX. Telephony and software vendors such as AT&T, British Telecom, IBM, Novell, Microsoft and Intel have developed CTI services.
The main CTI functions are integrating messaging with databases, word processors etc.; controlling voice, fax, and e-mail messaging systems from a single application program; graphical call control - using a graphical user interface to perform functions such as making and receiving calls, forwarding and conferencing; call and data association - provision of information about the caller from databases or other applications automatically before the call is answered or transferred; speech synthesis and speech recognition; automatic logging of call related information for invoicing purposes or callback.
CTI can improve customer service, increase productivity, reduce costs and enhance workflow automation.
IBM were one of the first with workable CTI, now sold as "CallPath". Callware's Phonetastic is another middleware product.
CTI came out of the 1980s call centre boom, where it linked central servers and IVRs with PBXes to provide call transfer and screen popping. In the 1990s, efforts were made by several vendors, such as IBM, Novell TSAPI and Microsoft TAPI, to provide a version for desktop computers that would allow control of a desktop telephone and assist in hot desking.
See also Telephony Application Programming Interface.
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Nearby terms: Computer Software Configuration Item « Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning « Computer Supported Cooperative Work « Computer Telephone Integration » Computer Telephony » Computer Telephony Integration » computer virus