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What is Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) / Multi-Channel Integration?

Your company just decided to open a small interaction center to handle customer service issues. You’re an existing SAP Business Suite customer, and you happily discovered that you already own some CRM user licenses. So you quickly run out to Wal-Mart and get a great deal on a few laptops and telephones. You even hire your nephew and his college friends to hang out answer calls. Now what?

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) is technology that allows you to use a computer to control a telephone, typically via so-called softphone buttons residing in a software application (such as the SAP CRM Interaction Center). In this manner a user of the software application can answer incoming calls, place the caller on hold, consult with another colleague, transfer the caller to another department, and so on – all without ever touching an actual telephone. CTI also provides other benefits such as so-called screen-pop, or the ability to pre-populate the computer screen with the customer’s information and history based on identification of the caller via IVR (Interactive Voice Response) data or ANI (Automatic Number Identification). CTI also allows for queuing, treatment (i.e., recorded messages or on-hold music), and routing of calls to the appropriate agent or customer service representative.

Recently, as communication methods have expanded, the casual definition of CTI has also expanded to include other non-telephony contact channels such as e-mail and Web chat. However, technically CTI refers only to telephony integration; rather the term integration of additional channels beyond simple telephony, including e-mail and Web chat is generally referred to as Multi-Channel Integration.

In one of my previous Blog entries “SAPphone versus ICI (Integrated Communication Interface)” I describe SAP’s two certified multi-channel interfaces — SAPPhone and ICI – which can be used to enable CTI and Multi-Channel Integration of the SAP CRM Interaction Center. SAPphone is an older RFC-based interface that works for telephony only. ICI is a newer web-services (XML/SOAP) based interface that works for telephony, e-mail and chat.

Who are the CTI / Multi-Channel vendors?

In the past SAP did not directly provide co-called communication management software (CMS) – software that manages communication channels and handles individual contacts with customers via channels such as telephone, e-mail, and Web chat. Rather, SAP provides certifiable interfaces against which third-party CMS providers can obtain certification from SAP.

A partial list of some of the certified CMS vendors include: Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, Interactive Intelligence, and so on. For a full list of vendors certified for ICI and SAPphone, please do the following:

  1. Go to http://global.sap.com/community/ebook/2013_09_adpd/enEN/search.html
  2. Enter “Telephony”, “Chat”, “E-mail” or “Sapphone” as the search criteria.
  3. Select the contact from the results list.
  4. Click on “SAP Certified Solutions”.

Does SAP offer CTI / Multi-Channel Integration?

Although SAP historically did not directly provide communication management software and relied exclusively on certified partners, SAP now also offers it own communication management software called SAP Business Communications Management (BCM). SAP acquired a Finnish company, Wicom Communications (http://www.wicom.com), a leading provider of all-IP and software based business communications solutions, which SAP has re-branded. SAP Business Communications Management software provides an integrated, out-of-the-box alternative to Communication Management Software (CMS) from third-party partners.

BCM is not intended to replace or displace existing partner implementations. SAP’s commitment to its partner ecosystems remains unchanged. SAP still maintains close partnerships with its certified CMS vendors. SAP BCM is an additional option available for SAP CRM Interaction Center customers looking for multi-channel integration. It is an option particularly well suited for customers seeking an out-of-the-box, integrated solution or an “all SAP” footprint with minimal third-party software and proprietary hardware.

SAP Business Communications Management software is integrated out-of-the-box with the SAP CRM Interaction Center via SAP’s Integrated Communication Interface (ICI), allowing interaction center agents to handle inbound and outbound telephone calls and e-mails. Currently both telephony and e-mail channels are supported, while support for chat is planned. SAP BCM provides routing services to route incoming telephone calls and e-mails to the most appropriate interaction center agent utilizing CRM business data as well as agent skills and availability information.

SAP BCM also provides a full set of online monitoring and reporting capabilities that integrate out-of-the-box with SAP BW for blended analytics. Other SAP BCM capabilities for example include Directory and Presence services, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Voicemail and Call Recording. SAP Business Communication Management software is currently positioned both as an integrated solution with SAP CRM Interaction Center and as a stand-alone application. The integration with SAP CRM Interaction Center is supported with CRM release 4.0 (Add-on for Services Industries) and higher.

SAP BCM is available for download from the SAP Service Marketplace (http://service.sap.com) under SAP Support, Portal Downloads, SAP Installations and Upgrades, Entry by Application Group, SAP Application Components, SAP BCM Software, SAP BCM Software 5.5. BCM is a stand-alone .NET application that runs on Microsoft servers, databases, and browsers. It is currently available in English, German, Russian, Polish, Finnish and Swedish. Support for additional hardware and languages is planned.

Building a business case for CTI / Multi-Channel Integration

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) and Multi-Channel Integration can be both powerful and pricy. Currently, between 10 and 25 percent of SAP CRM Interaction Center customers use CTI / Multi-Channel integration, varying by industry, release and CRM version. CTI can provide a number of cost and efficiency benefits in the interaction center including real-time screen population (screen pop) with customer data and history, caller identification via Automated Number Identification (ANI), Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS), CTI based routing, and transfer of customer data via Call Attached Data (CAD).

Another benefit of CTI is that it an help you optimize call volume across peaks and valleys by allowing callers, during busy periods, to schedule call backs for a less busy time instead of waiting on hold. Additionally, CTI can help utilize excess agent capacity via blended inbound/outbound calling by switching unoccupied inbound agents to outbound calling during lulls in inbound activity.

The costs of CTI hardware and software can be quite significant, and vary from a few hundred dollars per user, to a few thousand dollars per user, depending on the scope of the project and the vendor. Adding support for additional channels like e-mail, chat, and universal routing increases costs as well. Additionally, if using a vendor other than SAP, you will generally incur substantial integration costs as well; however, with SAP BCM there are no additional integration costs since no third-party adapter or connector is required. There is however, an additional license fee for BCM separate from the standard CRM license.

SAP recommends that CTI purchase decisions should be made based on a business case that compares the potential cost savings of the CTI or multi-channel project against the total costs of the hardware, software, implementation, and maintenance. If the cost savings associated with time reductions outweigh the total costs of the CTI project, then the organization should implement CTI. If on the other hand, the costs significantly outweigh the savings, then the company should hold off on CTI and evaluate again at a later date.

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36 Comments

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  1. Ezequiel Martin
    Greetings!

    First of all, I’d like to congratulate the author for this excellent piece of information.
    Secondly, I’d like to ask you if the Customer Interaction Center from Customer Relationship Manager is the same as in ERP’s Customer Service?

    Thanks in advance!
    Best Regards.

    Ezequiel

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author
      Hello Ezequiel,

      Thank you. And to answer your question, the CRM Interaction Center products are significantly different than the Customer Interaction Center “Front Office” product that was available as part of R/3 Customer Service. There are actually two different CRM Interaction Center products available, depending on your CRM release: the SAP GUI based IC WinClient which is similar to, but more advanced than, the original R/3 CIC and the browser-based IC WebClient which does not resemble the R/3 CIC at all.

      Best regards,
      John

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  2. Shankar Raj
    Hi john,

    Where can i find the list of TAPI’s to be given to the third party vender for the CTI with Sap phone

    It’s very urgent please rvert asap

    Regards
    Raj

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author
      Hello Raj,

      The list of TAPI functions supported by the older SAPPhone Interface can be found in the SAPPhone specification. You can find a link to the specification in my other Blog, “SAPPhone Versus ICI” https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/weblogs?blog=/pub/wlg/7653. [original link is broken] [original link is broken] That Blog entry describes why in general, SAP recommends the newer XML/SOAP based ICI interface rather than the older SAPPhone interface!

      (0) 
  3. Gernot Taucher
    Hi,

      since we think of a new telephone system it might be useful to think of an connection between or SAP system and our telefon system as well.

    We do not have SAP CRM and we do not plan to use it in future. We have ERP CIC in place and we’re quite happy with that.

    Since there is not much information – or at least I didn’t find it – about CTI and ERP CIC I hope you may help us wheter there is also CTI for ERP CIC or not.

    Thank you very much in advance
    br
    Gernot Taucher

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author
      Hello Gernot,

      Since you seem to be from Wien, the city in Austria where my family comes from, I will overlook you offensive comments about not ever planning to use CRM in the future 🙂

      Regarding your question, there is indeed an option to integrate external telephone systems with the ERP Customer Interaction Center (CIC) product via the SAPphone interface. You should be able to find documentation on help.sap.com for your particular R/3 or ECC version. For example…

      http://help.sap.com/saphelp_webas620/helpdata/en/6c/089eb556c511d18ef20000e8366fc2/frameset.htm

      Best regards,
      John

      (0) 
      1. Gernot Taucher
        Hi John,

          thank you for your response – I really appreciate your help.

        Regarding CRM – never say never – but since we are more in service business with fixed contracts we do not have the need for a “marketing tool” so far.

        br from Wien
        Gernot

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  4. Zeev Erlichman
    Hi John,

    I’m trying to understand if there is a difference between Simple CTI and BCM.
    In RAIC52 (Interaction Center Enhancement Workshop) you’ve explained that there are two different solutions for CTI integration:
    1.Simple CTI, which provide a basic telephony integration, including:
      a.Softphone controls
      b.Screen pop
      c.CAD
    2.BCM

    I have some questions regarding the Simple CTI solution:
    1.Is it integrated to another (3rd party) CTI solution or directly to a PCB/ACD?
    2.Is it included in the CRM 7.0 license or is there additional license fee (like the BCM)?

    Thanks and Best Regards,
    Zeev Erlichman

    (0) 
  5. Zeev Erlichman
    Hi John,

    I’m trying to understand if there is a difference between Simple CTI and BCM.
    In RAIC52 (Interaction Center Enhancement Workshop) you’ve explained that there are two different solutions for CTI integration:
    1.Simple CTI, which provide a basic telephony integration, including:
      a.Softphone controls
      b.Screen pop
      c.CAD
    2.BCM

    I have some questions regarding the Simple CTI solution:
    1.Is it integrated to another (3rd party) CTI solution or directly to a PCB/ACD?
    2.Is it included in the CRM 7.0 license or is there additional license fee (like the BCM)?

    Thanks and Best Regards,
    Zeev Erlichman

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author
      Hello Zeev,

      There seems to be some confusion here. “Simple CTI” is a merely configuration setting in the Interaction Center that allows agents to log into a CTI sytems by only providing a telephone number (but no unique user data). Hence the CTI system only knows that some agent has logged on to the system and is available, but the CTI has no idea about e.g., the skillset of the agent. “Simple CTI” is an alternative to regular CTI integration which requires the agent to log in to the CTI system with a unique userID and password (and to already have his/her skillset maintained). Thus “Simple CTI” only supports very basic CTI functionality. But regardless of whehter the agent has logged on with regular CTI or with the “Simple CTI” setting, in either case you of course still need an actual CTI system!

      SAP BCM (Business Communication Management) is one such CTI system — or as we prefer to call it, a Communication Management Software (CMS) system. Of course, in addition to SAP BCM there are also other certified CTI products from other SAP partners like Genesys, Avaya, and others. SAP BCM is not included with CRM and must be licensed separately — just as with any of our partner solutions.

      Regards,
      John

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  6. sunil peddina
    Hi John,
       Thnx. a lot for giving such information in this Blog.

    presently we are working on CRM 7.0 & we have plans to implement interaction center. Please let us know is it possible to use CTI for CRM 7.0, will it support?

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author
      Hello Sunil,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m excited to hear that you are working on a CRM 7.0 project. And yes, of course, CRM 7.0 is completely backwards compatible with other CRM releases in terms of CTI integration. In addition a few new CTI features have been introduced to the ICI interface with CRM 7.0. You can check SAP note 1268057 for full details. Additonally, the CTI product offered from SAP, known as SAP BCM (Business Communications Management) supports many of these new ICI features. So you might want to investigate using SAP BCM for CTI if you don’t already have a CTI product/vendor strategy decided yet!

      Best regards,
      John

      (0) 
      1. sunil peddina
        Hi John,
           Further to your reply i need some more information on CTI…

        Presently my customer is using CRM 3.1, where they are using CTI for their IC winclient(with IVR) with TDS’s ICC softphone. Now they planned to move to CRM 7.0.

        Q1. Is it possible to use the same setup of CTI for CRM 7.0 what ever they have in CRM 3.1?
        Q2. What extra setup/settings need to be done in CRM 7.0 to achieve CTI as compared to CTI of CRM 3.1 system?

        Regards.
        Sunil

        (0) 
        1. John Burton Post author
          Hello Sunil,

          If the customer is currently on CRM 3.1 IC WinClient they are probably using the old SAPphone interface. When upgrading to CRM 7.0 they will want to switch to the newer ICI interface. See my other blog for details: http://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/pub/wlg/7653. [original link is broken] [original link is broken] This requires a significant effort and I can’t explain everything here in a few sentences inside a blog response. You will need an experienced CTI consultant on the project. I would recommend that you talk to a gentleman named Glenn Able whose company, Covington Creative http://www.covingtoncreative.com/ specializes in CTI projects for SAP CRM Interaction Center. Tell him that John sent you.

          Best regards,
          John

          (0) 
          1. Glenn Abel
            Hey there,

            Thanks John for mentioning me!

            Sunil: Is your current CTI integration based on SAPphone or is it a desktop integration using 3rd party softphone? I can certainly point you in the right direction – my contact info is on our website, and also in my SDN profile.

            Sincerely,
            Glenn

            (0) 
          2. Ankush Singla
            Hi John,

            Very useful topic..

            John, i am starting Avaya, CTI configuration with SAP CRM 2007. Could you please help me with the docs?
            What are the docs required in starting and in which sequence?

            Regards,
            Ankush

            (0) 
  7. Pietro Angelo Corrao
    Hi John,

    we’re trying to implement an integration between SAP CRM 7.0 and a CMS Genesys without the Gplus Adapter but developing an “ad-hoc” web server (on Contact Center side) according to ICI Specifications 3.06.

    Currently we’re also referring to this SAP Library:

    http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nw04/helpdata/en/98/f4138b0cd8074b97cd6d86b0c4b496/frameset.htm

    where it’s stated (section “Customizing the ICI – Use”) :
    “Under System Information, you can see whether SAP is connected to one or multiple contact centers and how the connection status is. The BCB version number and the SAP SOAP URL (URL given to the contact center to return events to) are also displayed”

    In our scenario the SAP SOAP URL is: http://xxx.yyy.zzz.103:50000/IciEventService/IciEventConf?style=document (java stack)

    Referring to picture shown on http://xxx.yyy.zzz.103:50000/bcb, our CRM was installed on a machine at xxx.yyy.zzz.104 (abap stack). For our initial tests, we’re using the CSS available at xxx.yyy.zzz.103. When we take a look to a trace corresponding to a simple inbound call, we find CSS sends a phoneCallChanged to CRM posting at the following URL:

    POST /sap(bD1JVCZjPTEwMCZpPTEmZT1RVU5PUkVWV1JVeFBVRjlmTkRCZk0xOWZtZG5SU3gyanJqcmhBQUFBQ210WWFBJTNkJTNk)/bc/soap/ici HTTP/1.1
    host: xxx.yyy.zzz.104:8000

    The question is:
    Which is the URL to give to the contact center to return events to? We’ve supposed it was http://xxx.yyy.zzz.103:50000/IciEventService/IciEventConf?style=document, but in this case why we have seen a post to  xxx.yyy.zzz.104:8000? Maybe in the trace do we find an “internal” communication between CRM and IC Server?

    Thanks in advance for you kind attention!

    Regards,
    Pietro

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author
      Hello Chaturvedi,

      BCM supports chat, both the chat client and the routing of chat messages to the Interaction Center. The only caveat is that BCM currently only supports one active customer chat session per agent. However multi-chat is planned for a future release.

      Regards,
      John

      (0) 
  8. Ganesh C
    Hi John,

    We are on CRM 7.0 on ABAP stack. We are planning to leverage CRM Interaction Center functionality either using SAP’s BCM or Avaya.
    I would appreciate if you can let me know whether interfaces supports ABAP stack or do we need Java stack as well?

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author
      Hello Ganesh,

      Both the Interaction Center itself as well as the ICI interface run completely on the ABAP stack. There is no need for any Java stack.

      Regards,
      John

      (0) 
  9. Parasar Das
    Hi John

    I need help to implement screen transfer facility in IC web while agent is in call with customer and want to warm transfer the call to other agent. How to configure so that the current interaction screen gets transfered to the other agent.
    Thanks

    (0) 
  10. Bhoovallabha Tilak Vasudevan
    Hi,

    Is SAP EIC 7.0 EHP1 providing internally in the software all the Telephony features such as :
    –     Calls queue management,
    –     Support Agent availability management
    –     Automatic call assignation
    –     Overflow management
    –     Etc. (part or all features of a telephony system)

    I have overheard this.Is it true? Can you clarify please. Our basic understanding is to add add a Telephony system and perform the CTI  with SAP.

    (EIC-Employee Interaction Center)

    Regards
    Tilak.

    (0) 
  11. luca balbiani
    Good morning,

    I would like to know the main advantages of SAP BCM than a standard CTI.
    Integrating SAP BCM with SAP CRM provides adavantages in terms of costs (total costs of ownership). Anyway I would like to know if there are further functional advantages.

    Thanks in advance

    Luca

    (0) 
  12. prashant rai
    Hi,
       We have developed an Adpater using ICI specs. I would like to know what needs to be done on SAP  Web CRM client to display ANI and DNIS on CTI toolbar.

    Once ANI is displayed, what is the process for Auto search based on ANI.

    (0) 
  13. Carsten Loeffler

    Hi,

    this is very Good summary.

    But how to go on now that SAPphone is discontinued …

    Is there a small shape software or anything else to

    run with CIC in ERP oder CRM?

    Kind Regards,

    Carsten Loeffler

    (0) 
  14. Lloyd Goveia

    Dear colleagues/Friends,

    I would just like to add that the link http://www.sap.com/partners/directories/SearchSolution.epx is no longer providing the old page where you could drill down the list of certified partners. Instead please do the following:

    1. Go to http://global.sap.com/community/ebook/2013_09_adpd/enEN/search.html
    2. Enter Telephony, Chat, E-mail or Sapphone as the search criteria.
    3. Select the contact from the results list.
    4. Click on “SAP Certified Solutions”.

    Hope this help!

    Kind regards,

    Lloyd Goveia

    (0) 
  15. Giulio Norici

    Dear experts,

    we are on CRM 7.0 integrated with GPlus for telephony for Contact Center structure and on CRM 7.01 for contract sales offices.

    We are planning to use CRM Interaction Center CHAT functionality between the two systems.

    In your opinion, which ones are the possibilities to design an infrastructure for chat without using Genesys/GPlus or other vendors?

    Thanks a lot

    (1) 

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