Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)

Computer telephony integration (CTI)  is an integration between a customer call system and an user's computer.  This article will discuss how this works with ServiceNow and include more information on the technology.

How it works

For a connection to ServiceNow, CTI usually consists of an app installed in the user's System Tray (or mac equivalent) that receives information from phone system like Avaya or Cisco.  When a call comes in, pops an url in the user's browser with ServiceNow and the caller's information.

The url that is generated looks something like this:

https://<instance name>

The url often contains more information than that example contains however.  If the call system has an Interactive voice response (IVR) you can send in additional information such as:

  • Automatic number identification - This is the "caller id" of the user that called in.  Often this is used to match the caller in ServiceNow
  • Caller Information - A call system can also capture caller information such as security questions and caller information like zip code.  This information can be restricted use within ServiceNow
  • Automatic call distributor - The caller often will input certain numbers when placing the call in the IVR.  You can use those numbers to route the call.

How it doesn't work

Ever call into a helpdesk and have to enter a lot of information in the "phone tree" and when you finally get a technician, they ask for your information again?  Sometimes the reason is that they are confirming your information, but other times the reason that their IVR is not hooked into the ITSM software.  That is too bad, as CTI isn't that difficult to hook up and it does save a lot of time for technicians and callers.

New Technology?

CTI is not a new technology.  I have been building CTI interfaces since 2004, but I am sure it has been around longer than that.  My first CTI interface was with Peregrine ServiceCenter 4.0 and used TAPI to to pop the caller information.  With HP Service Manager I started using DDE calls, and now with ServiceNow we often use the url method.

How to setup

To configure CTI for ServiceNow, there are two important pieces

1. Have an app built to connect to the phone system and send the url to ServiceNow

Usually these apps are built in .NET or Java and sit in the users system tray.  I often have other companies build these apps, since they are familiar with the phone system. Some phone system providers do have their own software available, but it depends a lot on the phone system at the company.

2. Adjust ServiceNow to accept information

On the ServiceNow side, you mostly adjust the Business Rule, CTI Processing.  In this business rule, you may want to route the assignment group based on the caller or their phone input decisions.  You also might adjust other fields such as Configuration Item or short description.  The CTI Processing Business rule is flexible enough to accept many different configurations.

More information on the CTI Processing Business Rule and action can be found here: ServiceNow Wiki - Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)