What is Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)?
Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) Definition
CTI stands for computer telephony integration, and is the process by which a computer and phone become united. With CTI you can view information about a caller on the computer (i.e. screen pop with the callers information found via caller ID). In addition, you can control the phone directly from the computer, such as placing, transferring, or ending a call. Traditionally, CTI links Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools such as Salesforce with a phone.
What is a CTI Adapter?
A piece of software called a CTI adapter enables two-way communication between computer and telephone. This software sits between the computer and telephone. Traditionally, a CTI adapter would be installed on a person’s computer to facilitate the integration. However, recently, a shift has been made to install CTI adapters to a server (i.e. in the cloud). This has removed many of operating system and browser dependencies inherent in traditional CTI adapters. As a result, the installation process for CTI adapters has become much smoother. Now you only have to install a CTI adapter once on a server for all agents versus on evert agent computer.
Open CTI for Salesforce
What is a Soft Phone?
The definition of a soft phone is defined as a piece of software that enables a person to place a call over the internet. You can think of Skype and Google Voice as soft phones.
The words “CTI adapter” and “soft phone” are used interchangeably in the context of Salesforce. In Salesforce, the user-interface of the CTI adapter can be referred to as the soft phone. It is also commonly called the soft phone layout. However, that does not necessarily mean that the person can place a call over the Internet! Instead the soft phone is defined as “a customizable call-control tool that appears to users assigned to a call center with machines on which CTI adapters have been installed.” Notwithstanding, there are some soft phones that can place a call over the internet from the web browser utilizing a technology called WebRTC.
Different Types CTI Adapters
There are different ways that a CTI adapter can interface with a phone system. The phone most common methods to interface with a phone system are TAPI/JTAPI, web sockets, or an over-the-top method.
Direct Hook (TAPI, JTAPI, and TSAPI)
TAPI is short for Telephony Application Programming Interface and is a Microsoft Windows API and enables computers running Windows to use telephone services. This technology is primary used in CTI where the user has to install the CTI adapter on their PC.
“The Java Telephony API (JTAPI) supports telephony call control. It is an extensible API designed to scale for use in a range of domains, from first-party call control in a consumer device to third-party call control in large distributed call centers.” JTAPI is the pre-dominant technology used in modern CTI adapters. It was started by a consortium of industry-leading computer and telecommunications companies including Intel, Avaya, Nortel, Novell and Sun Microsystems.
TSAPI or Telephony Servicer Application Programming Interface pre-dated JTAPI and was an attempt by Nortel and AT&T to implement call control methods using servers instead of client-side hardware.
Over-the-top integration enables CTI by layering telephony on to an existing telephony backbone. With this approach the user will enter their own phone number. When they click-to-call on a phone number on their computer the 3rd party telephony server will call their phone number and establish a bridge. After the call the user can click to end the call via their computer and place the next call without hanging up their phone.
“WebSockets is an advanced technology that makes it possible to open an interactive communication session between the user’s browser and a server. With this API, you can send messages to a server and receive event-driven responses without having to poll the server for a reply.” In CTI, WebSockets is used to send information between the user’s browser and the CTI adapter hosted on a server. In addition, a mobile app can be built that communicates the CTI adapter. By leveraging WebSockets it is possible to create a CTI that allows a person to control their cell phone (click-to-call, transfer/end call, etc) from the soft phone interface on their computer.