Telephony in Workflow Automation

May 6, 2012

The decisions workflow engine can be used to handle the backend of both SMS and IVR (interactive voice response) telephony integration. We do this by integrating with both Twilio and Plivo who provide an API layer for handling the telephony.

To use this feature you need to have access to either a Twilio or Plivo account. Twilio is a SAAS provider and it is really easy to create an account to try this out. Just go to twilio.com and register.

The types of communication that can be handled using this integration includes

  • Sending out text messages
  • Holding a conversation using text (sms) with a user. Ie, asking them to approve something, waiting for a response, etc
  • Making outbound calls
  • Handling inbound calls
  • Recording (and transcribing?) messages
  • Conferencing users together

The workflow engine exposes all of the interactions from the telephony services in a graphical way. Here is a picture of the list of flow steps that are provided for telephony.

Besides the integration to handle all the elements of communication that are exposed by these services, the advantage of using the flow engine to manage the communication is the other parts of building an application are easy to integrate. When I get a text, I want to assign to user to setup – easy, you have the process engine for this. When call comes in, I want to use rule engine to decide who to route it to – not a problem. Want to log the call to a database, database integration is present in the workflow engine. Etc.

The API’s from these services are easy to use on their own, but they do nothing to assist in the automating of the ‘what now’ in a telephony application. Sure, its easy to make a call, but how do I trigger that logic? Where do I store the data? What other processes are impacted?

Try our designers to play with telephony processes by clicking here Telephony-Try It.

Carl Hewitt
Prior to starting Decisions in 2009, Carl began in mid 90′s as an innovator in object oriented programming for business. He started his first technology company in 1998 (oop.com) which developed a graphical configuration technology and rules engine. The company was sold to NetDecisions, a global technology company and private equity fund in 2001. As the CTO over technology ventures at NetDecisions, Carl also organized and created Fluency, a voice recognition technology based on the oop.com platform. In 2003, recognizing the potential of workflow in conjunction with other configuration technologies, Carl formed Transparent Logic. Using a .net based platform, Transparent Logic delivered a fully graphical platform for creating workflows, rules and form building suite. Transparent Logic was sold to Altiris/Symantec in January 2008. At Symantec, Carl was the Senior Director in charge of R&D for the workflow team. During his time at Symantec, he created the next generation Symantec Service Desk, based on the workflow technology.

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