A live, mission critical, Silverlight 3 RIA at launch

Continental Airlines Revolutionizes Their Call Center With Silverlight 3. This shows Silverlight’s maturity and that is has evolved from media engine to a full fledged application platform. Continental didn’t take the Silverlight seriously until v2. With v3 they are placing big bets. Out of browser deployment and web service connectivity tipped the scales.

Microsoft launched Expression and Silverlight 3 through an event at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco on July 10th, 2009. Scott Guthrie delivered the keynote during which Continental Airlines showcased their call center based flight reservation solution built on Silverlight 3.

Continental Airlines stands out from its competition through a commitment to superior customer service and a forward-thinking approach to technology. When it came time to update its call center reservations system, Continental and its partner Infusion Development chose Microsoft® Silverlight™ to build the new reservations solution as a rich internet application.

The new system provides improved functionality and workflow for call center agents, which enables them to deliver better customer service and satisfaction. With the new solution, Continental saves money by consolidating servers and databases that currently sit in call centers around the world. By choosing Silverlight, the company also has reduced development and deployment time, simplified application management, and made it easy to integrate the new system with Continental’s existing Web services.

In Continental’s own worlds “Silverlight speeds our time to market, increases the return on our investment in existing services, and provides our agents with better functionality, which helps them better serve our customers.”

Aaron Hynes, Managing Director of E-Commerce Technology, Continental Airlines

While presenting at the keynote, Aaron mentioned that the Windows based EZR was created 10 years ago as a user experience enhancement over the then popular green screen terminals that required use of an arcane set of commands to get the business done. Windows and DCOM based EZR definitely  saved the day at that time.

Per Aaron, the current EZR architecture constrains the agent from seeing all the right information in a given customer call context. For the past few years Continental has invested heavily in .NET powered web service capabilities which can be leveraged in presenting right information to satisfy all the customer service needs. Over that period of time, Continental call centers expanded to multiple international locations that included Continental owned and third party operated facilities. This kind of mix imposed a lot of deployment,  networking and operational constraints that weighed heavily in deciding on the new platform.

Aaron went on to say that the Cross platform compatibility, RIA Services, out-of-browser deployment and familiar .NET and web service programming environment tipped the scale towards Silverlight when compared with other RIA technology platforms.