Making $135,000 On Your Next Software Project
Are you a programmer? Then this is the note for you.
Get this. In my employer's call center, we have an annoying call center manager who thinks he knows it all. Instead of getting with the director of IT (my boss) in our division to help make wise software decisions, he googles for it, makes some calls to the telecom mgmt guys above my boss's head, and then recommends all this to my boss's boss. Then, these software guys drive in and my boss has to play along with it or he could be seen as not being a team player, I guess. Of course, he throws up criticism where criticism is due. In the end, that's how some lousy call center people scheduling software has been approved, call stat software, and IVR software has gotten in the door. All of these tie into Avaya PBX. Avaya, as you know, is the renaming of Lucent. Lucent, as you know, is the old Bell Labs spun off of AT&T (aka "Ma Bell").
Well, today my boss tells me that his boss approved some eavesdropping software for the call center supervisors. He said he saw the presentation from a company. He swears these guys are good, but they're hacks. He swears that the company must be only 2 or 3 people.
The cost? $135,000!!! And guess what. My employer is going to pay it without even batting an eye. (Different topic -- Ask me some other time about the fact that they paid $20K for something else that's far cheaper than they paid -- 12 security cameras, DVR, multiplexer, monitor, and installation.)
The software lets the supervisors listen in and record a call, along with watching what's going on with the call taker's screen.
The software basically uses a licensed, OEM ActiveX control that goes beyond Remote Desktop in Windows XP. It permits one to not only see the screen, but record the images in some format like MPEG.
Then, the software somehow dials through a modem to have an agent that bridges (conferences) in with the PBX. From that, it permits you to hear this anywhere in the office through a fat client app and your PC speakers. It can also record the call.
To boot, they then have call recording scheduling added on so that you can schedule either a certain time to automatically switch over to watch and/or record someone, or to schedule a trigger for when a certain phone number comes in.
The PBX API on Avaya is probably not too easy to understand, but there's probably this information listed on the web. Then, a Java applet could probably be hunted down on the web to permit you to do the screen viewing/recording. If you combine the two with Linux and web pages, you could probably build this fairly cheaply and sell the first few copies for something like $20K a piece. Later on, as you polish this, you could probably walk in, give a presentation, and walk out with a $135K check just like these guys.
The key point here is that if you know how to do web pages and can interface and license (or download free) stuff on the web, then aggregate it all into a well-made product for an underserved market, you might do well. For instance, you might not know how to do the API with the PBX, or you might not know how to do remote screen viewing and recording, but someone probably does and you might be able to license this stuff for free or in a cost-effective manner. I would reason to bet that what keeps most of us from making it rich in the software industry as programmers is that we rarely think about aggregating stuff that's already written and combining it into a wonderful interface.