The compelling story of Alston Tascom is one of leadership, vision, engineering, and customer satisfaction. It is the story of one man’s desire to make a positive difference. Because of Alston Tascom, an entire industry has choices. Alston Tascom decided to make its own way, step out, and believe that users could have the latest in technology; as it turns out, that is possible – and Alston Tascom is making the transition a reality. Alston Tascom designs, develops, and sells call center solutions, including the Tascom Evolution Systems, with both premises-based and hosted cloud-based options.
A privately held corporation headquartered approximately thirty-five miles east of Los Angeles in Chino, California, Alston Tascom is a true American success story. In December 1971 Wayne Scaggs arrived at LAX with thirty-five dollars, one friend, no education, and no family. Like many, the bright lights of the big city, big houses, and fancy cars were overwhelming. To stay in Los Angeles, Wayne knew he would have to go back to school and get a job. There were many challenges along the way; what he remembers most is that he was willing to do what no one else wanted to do.
Eventually, Wayne gained enough education and experience to be hired in 1979 by Conrac Alston (now Alston Tascom). The company sent him to Malaysia for a year to install a countrywide billing system in their government-owned telephone company. Upon his return from the successful installation in Malaysia, the company told him they didn’t have any more oversea projects for him. However, they did have a new product called Tascom, and they offered him the opportunity to work on it. Wayne said, “It was one of the best decisions I have ever made, because – as you know – I said yes.” The next major event came in 1994 when he was given the opportunity to buy the company; he named it Alston Tascom.
Corporate History: Alston Tascom, Inc., traces its company roots to the early 1950s. Telecommunications pioneer Russell Alston developed the “Blue Alston Box,” a call accounting system that became a standard in the telephone company industry, installed in telephone companies’ central offices around the world. The system also was used to measure call activity in many major hotel facilities and other institutions.
In the late 1970s, executives from AT&T approached Alston and asked the company to develop a “paperless” messaging system, because AT&T planned to expand its services to include messaging for its business customers. After significant development on the product, AT&T decided not to enter the messaging industry and released Alston from its proprietary development obligation.
Tascom Legacy Introduced: Alston continued to develop the messaging system independently, and the Tascom product was released in 1979. “Built to Bell Company specs” became the hallmark of Alston’s entire product line. The Tascom Legacy System was installed at sites throughout North America and the Caribbean. Considered by many to be the “Cadillac” of the industry, the Tascom product line continued development throughout the 1980s into the early 1990s. With its “Bell Company standards” design, the product was often referred to as bulletproof and considered to be the workhorse of the teleservices industry.
A New Beginning: In 1994 Wayne Scaggs, longtime Alston employee, announced his acquisition of the company to the Tascom Users Group. At that meeting, Wayne Scaggs pledged to reengineer the Tascom product from the ground up. With his intimate knowledge of the system and the teleservices industry, Scaggs added a number of “next generation” engineers to his team of existing Tascom engineers. He also retained the services of several of Alston’s key employees.
During the transition process, Tascom’s primary competitors continued developing their products, which also were built using their own proprietary hardware, proprietary operating systems, flat databases, and early 1990s PC technology. Tascom was dormant in the marketplace during the mid-1990s, and competitors gained key market share with new installations. Almost every Tascom user, however, remained with the company and their Tascom system. This dormant development period worked to Tascom’s advantage as a new era in PC operating systems, servers, and development tools became available.
Open Development Strategy: Tascom’s engineering staff made an early, strategic choice that would propel the product to the industry forefront. The Tascom team chose to build the entire system on the newly introduced open source soft-switch and Microsoft SQL database operating system. Tascom’s development strategy was focused on three important principles:
- Open source software
- Open database: all information stored in standard ADO-compliant databases
- Standard off-the-shelf hardware: no proprietary hardware required anywhere in the system
Tascom also claims the title as being the first in the telemessaging industry to implement the following technological advances:
- TCP/IP network
- Windows workstations
- Windows NT server
- Microsoft SQL server
- Delphi development front-end
- Microsoft Development Partner
- Intel Communications and Dialogic Partner
- Point-and-click account scripting and forms design
- Visual Basic Scripting for sophisticated scenarios
- Billing interface to QuickBooks
- Interactive voice response
- Hosted TAS
The Tascom Evolution System, featuring ADAM’s open source soft-switch architecture, was developed for the exclusive use by the telemessaging operations by engineers from Alston Tascom, Inc. The Tascom Evolution system replaces the Tascom Legacy switch. It significantly expands agent and telephony capacity, while introducing multiple new system capabilities and features.
The Tascom Evolution system supports SIP trunking, digital T-1 spans with both DIOD (Direct Inward and Outward Dialing), and ISDN-PRI (Primary Rate Interface) signaling protocol. Analog loop-start lines are also supported by ADAM.
Primary features of the Tascom Evolution system include:
- Database controlled automatic call distribution (ACD)
- Fully programmable interactive voice response (IVR)
- Speaker hold (increase operator productivity)
- Unified voicemail
- Unlimited accounts, voicemail boxes, greetings, and messages
- Email (with mp3 or wav attachment), alpha pager, and digital pager notification
- Unified call recording both voice logging and trunk logging
- PBX functionality with SIP phones and all standard 2500 type phone appliances
- Inbound, outbound, and blended agents
- Preview, progressive, manual, and speed dialers
- Pre-set and programmable report generation
- Ring to on-hook call reporting and billing data
- Single site (standalone) and multi-site (distributed) configurations
- Single and multiple server configurations
- Scalable to over 200 agent stations
- Scalable to twenty T-1 spans
- Group and team response notification
- Conference bridging
- Redundant configuration
- Dynamic remote operator login
- Open source operating systems, open database, and off-the-shelf hardware
Tascom’s Future: The success achieved by the staff at Alston Tascom has made the company a recognized player in the contact center industry. The company has adapted – and even thrived – under competitive market conditions. The drive to turn vision into reality continues in the company’s unyielding spirit to succeed. Tascom’s engineering staff is constantly developing innovations to fulfill the dreams of visionaries throughout the industry.
[From Connection Magazine – March 2013]