Suite tracks employee communications

With employees scattered across corporate, branch and home offices, it can be hard for companies to keep tabs on individuals’ communication expenditures.

CTI Group this month unveiled software that monitors employee phone, e-mail and Internet use, and then consolidates the data it collects from distributed sites. Called Proteus Enterprise, the suite is designed to help companies see how much they’re spending on communications services, as well as provide the opportunity to divvy up communications costs by office, department or employee, says Adrian Burt, senior vice-president of sales and marketing at CTI Group.

The software also is a watchdog for monitoring staff productivity. On the phone front, it can report how many outgoing calls a person makes, who is called and how long calls last. For trend spotting, Proteus Enterprise can detail a company’s most frequent callers and compile lists of calls that were unanswered or abandoned.

On the Web side, it can identify which sites employees visit and highlight non-work-related sites. The software tracks the size and timing of e-mails employees send and receive — for work and personal use.

Companies don’t have to look far for justification of such tools. Research from America Online and suggests employees waste about two hours every workday. The top time-wasting activity cited by 44.7 per cent of respondents was personal Internet use.

“The amount of abuse that goes on in businesses on Internet and e-mail systems is just phenomenal,” Burt says. By measuring the most critical business tools employees use — phone, e-mail and Internet — companies can get a good idea of what they’re doing all day, Burt says.

Companies also can cut costs: those that deploy the suite can expect to trim 15 per cent to 20 per cent off their telephone bills alone, Burt says. Having the software and making employees aware of its monitoring capabilities will cause people to become more responsible when it comes to phone use, he says.

Proteus Enterprise is geared for distributed work settings. The software aggregates data from server log files, PBX and IP telephony systems, and cell phone accounts. To keep tabs on corporate cell phone use, it pulls electronic copies of employees’ mobile phone bills into its database. As new numbers appear, employees are asked to identify them as personal or business related, Burt says.

For real-time monitoring, managers can configure the software to send e-mail or text alerts when specific types of calls are placed — such as a 911 emergency call — or when certain Web sites are visited.

The data that fuels Proteus Enterprise may be familiar, but what matters is CTI Group’s methods of compiling and analyzing it. “Companies might have the data, particularly from Internet and e-mail systems, but it’s not pulled together into a consistent, consolidated report, and it’s not presented in a user-friendly way,” Burt says.

Companies with as many as 500 employees can expect to pay US$7,000 to US$10,000 for the licensed software, while a large organization with three or four satellite offices might pay in the US$20,000 range, according to Burt. Hosting fees start at about US$500 per month.

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