Today, we\u2019d like to talk about how Session Initiation Protocol can bring the call center a greater variety of ways to communicate.SIP, as readers may recall, has three important advantages over H.323 as a signaling protocol. First, when a user logs on to a network using SIP, his presence on the network is declared, much like the example of a \u201cbuddy\u201d appearing as available on an instant-messaging window. Second, SIP signals presence (and thereby availability) to a multitude of applications supporting voice calls, data calls, video calls and instant messaging. And third, SIP permits concurrent sessions even if the sessions use different media.For example, SIP users can log on to their call center\u2019s systems and \u201cannounce\u201d to the network they are available to receive a Web chat session, an instant message session, e-mail, and voice calls - simultaneously.Let\u2019s say Larry sends e-mail to a software help desk asking for help with a particular problem. The next available qualified call center agent receives the call based on the agents\u2019 announced \u201cpresence\u201d at the call center. Based on Larry\u2019s identity, Larry\u2019s profile and software version are available to the agent. In Larry\u2019s profile, his instant messaging address is also included.Using instant messaging, the agent sees Larry is logged onto his computer, and he sends Larry a message asking Larry if it is convenient to \u201cchat\u201d using instant messaging. They begin a dialog, and the agent asks Larry to send over\u00a0instant messaging\u00a0a \u201cWeb push\u201d page of the error message Larry received. As the discussion continues, it becomes apparent that a phone conversation is in order. So the agent asks Larry to press the \u201cpush to talk\u201d icon on his\u00a0instant messaging\u00a0screen to initiate a real-time voice call. The call, along with the Web chat and error message attachment, allows the agent to quickly identify the problem and Larry\u2019s software glitch is soon resolved.The agent has taken advantage of SIP\u2019s three characteristics to provide a greater and immediate level of customer service.Next week: How XML provides a more efficient level of integration among a call center\u2019s critical systems.