by Mike Roberts
I’ve seen technology completely transform since I first started working in London on communication capture – 30 years ago!
Don’t believe me? Pictured here is Barclays’ treasury room in central London, with stacks of ICR64 - the 64 meaning 64 channels per unit! Each tape only lasted 24 hours - so a tape changer engineer had to reload new tapes every day.
To give you an idea of the manual processes involved, retention of calls was set by how long you stored the tapes before putting them through a degausser…. ever so carefully, making sure you took your watch off first!
Instead of easy-to-read browser-based dashboards for alerting and monitoring, we relied on a very low frequency pilot noise on every channel. With something called downstream monitoring (which recorded everything on tape and then replayed straight away from the replay head), the system was able to detect the tone. If the tone was missing, then the channel would alarm. On the contrary, if all the spools were turning and no channel alarms were sounding, it was a sign of a healthy system!
Back in these days, everything also had to be installed on-premise via a long drawn out process. There were no short cuts or easy ways. As a Project Manager, my customers spanned the UK (with many of the bigger ones in the heart of London), so I spent many days at the top of the skyscrapers installing recording systems – in the clouds you might say.
It was only analogue extensions in this era. Trunks, VoIP, and digital extensions were yet to come! Fast forward a few years and we the Wordsafe recorder emerged, which provided 64 channels from memory, but used VHS tapes for removable storage.
This was quickly followed by the first digital recorder. Phillips disrupted the industry with the Racal Rapidax Ranger. This was a PC-based platform with proprietary hardware and interface cards that manually tapped into analogue and digital extensions.
Now recorders were networked together and had client applications for search and replay!
Around 2002 Racal/Thales was acquired by NICE and I was so excited to become part of the NICE family. As a Project Manager I was able to take the features our customers were screaming for and parlay them into the very successful v8.9 NICELog platform. This was a proprietary hardware solution that ran Windows 2000, interfacing to the first VoIP PBX, as well analogue, digital extensions and trunks.
This certainly seemed revolutionary for its time, but fast forward thirty years to the present, and we’re now hosting compliance recording on virtual resources in Microsoft Azure’s vast data centres. Instead of lugging tools and hardware up staircases of skyscrapers, thanks to the Cloud, I’m able to support customers remotely.
Our solutions have gotten better in other ways too! They boast many thousands of channels per system, and are capable of omni-channel recording, instant playback, sophisticated monitoring and speech analytics, with built in assurance tools, all easily managed and maintained from a central vantagepoint.
All of this has gone a long way toward helping customers meet their compliance needs in a highly regulated industry. Thanks to the Cloud, our customers in the financial sector have also benefitted from minimal footprint and reduced TCO. What’s more, manual processes have given way to efficient automation. It’s no longer necessary to phone up and ask the ‘tape changer guy’ to come and dig a tape out, reload it and replay it – everything is backed up, and readily accessible in the Cloud.
After celebrating my 30 years anniversary at NICE – people often ask me “Why have you stayed at NICE for so long?” My answer is simple: “NICE is lightyears ahead of competitors. Why would I consider working for other companies when NICE is always ahead of the game!”
Want to find out more: See our Transforming Communication Compliance page here.
Mike Roberts Mike has worked for NICE for over 30yrs, starting with Racal in 1990 before NICE acquisition back in 2002. The last 15 years at NICE have been within Financial Market Compliance both as Project Manager and now currently Solutions Sales Consultant within EMEA Communications Compliance business. Our team focuses on assisting organizations that are subject to Financial Regulations enhance and optimize their compliance operations across all communications platforms.