Nortel Networks has won a contract to implement a convergent communications system for financial institution Suncorp Metway in a deal worth $15 million.
Able to combine information from voice, data, video and the Internet, Nortel's Unified Network will eventually allow a customer to speak to call centre consultants on screen via home telephones or new browser-based electronic teller machines, claimed the vendor.
Yet it was Nortel's business understanding, not its technology, that won Suncorp's confidence. "This was a business decision on Suncorp's behalf," said Gary Starr, regional channel manager for Nortel.
"Suncorp wanted to change what it termed customer care and we made this possible by offering unified applications, unified management and alternative methods of customer access," said Starr.
With the system encompassing such diverse elements as telephony, passport applications and ATM technology, Nortel needed to partner for the expertise.
"We are using a range of partners for this deal. Convergent is helping us roll out the telephony side of things and Wang is partnering with us on the data side and is doing a lot of project management," said Starr.
He also expressed Nortel's intention to recruit more partners. "Over time we will work with more partners because this is a long-term deal. It will go well into next year."
The network specialist is most interested in companies with passport skills, something Starr believes is "a rare commodity at the moment".
Call centre expertise and project management experience are also required, according to Starr.
Comprising Nortel's Meridian, Symposium and Passport systems, the Unified Network suite is the first of its type Nortel has offered in the emerging marketplace of convergent technology.
"Our aim is to sell as many more of these systems as we can," said Starr, who envisages the technology taking off across a broad spectrum of industries.