Business phone systems

Computer telephony integration (CTI)


Computer telephony integration (CTI) is a way of connecting your phone system to your computer network to handle all your voice, fax and data traffic.

What is computer telephony integration?

In short, CTI is a technology that allows computers to interact with telephone systems. CTI allows users to carry out call-related tasks directly from their desktop, rather than a private branch exchange or key system telephone. This gives you centralised control over your communications (ie phone, voice mail, mobile, email, fax, etc) through a single interface.

CTI is particularly useful for businesses that handle a large volume of sales and calls, such as customer service call centres.

Most businesses can use CTI for:

  • sending and receiving voicemails as emails so they appear in your email inbox
  • using the internet to make outward calls
  • consolidating all messages (including email, voicemail, fax, phone messages) into one inbox using unified messaging technology

What is unified messaging?

Unified messaging allows you to collect all email, voicemail, faxes and text messages in one inbox. This technology offers a number of benefits. For example, it enables you to:

  • access any type of communication through a number of means - phone, laptop, internet cafe
  • remain in total contact even while out of the office
  • interact with the messages - eg by forwarding voicemail messages or adding private notes to the message
  • consolidate and simplify existing technologies, reducing costs

Benefits of computer telephony integration in business

CTI usually comes at a cost. For many small businesses, the cost of implementing CTI may not be justified by the benefits it offers. However, businesses in which employees spend a lot of their time on the phone in consumer-facing services (eg call centres) may significantly benefit from CTI.

For example, CTI can:

  • improve customer service - eg customer records can be automatically presented to staff members taking calls
  • increase efficiency by automating routine tasks, eg dialling numbers automatically from your computer
  • improve collaboration and productivity or staff through a single CTI interface
  • enable efficient call monitoring, recording and real-time analytics

Read more about handling higher volumes of incoming calls.

How to set up CTI in your business?

The equipment you will need to implement CTI in your business varies according to the size of your system. To connect a single PC and telephone all you need is a special modem and software to retrieve database records. For CTI systems with more than one user, you will need a network server. This can be an existing server or a separate one dedicated to managing your telephony.