The UCStrategies Experts share their expertise in bylined articles, opinion pieces, blogs, and podcasts, to define unified communications, educate you about unified communications technologies, and help you make informed decisions about unified communications solutions.
UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
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The advent of SIP trunking, Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC), UC, social media and BYOD are changing and obscuring the causal relationship between the incurrence of communications costs, the users/business units (BUs) involved and the business process activities where those costs are incurred. For example, the availability and use of self-service web portals for activation of UC applications and mobile devices combined with use of social media for collaboration has accelerated the pace of change in end user access rights so that they more readily align with what these knowledge workers are focusing on at any one time. Moreover, the explosive growth of BYOD is driving organizations to track the cost of mobile device management (MDM) against usage for cost allocation. And what about future issues? Applications won’t just come from today’s UC vendors. Third-party application vendors and aggregation companies will provide new and valuable applications. But enterprises will need a way to control which users have access to which apps. And they will need to be able to measure and report usage and cost allocations.
The bottom line – traditional telecom expense management that focuses only on call data records (CDRs) is beginning to fall short. Down the road companies will need to allocate costs based on UC and network consumption. This will require the ability to access dynamic UC event data records and device/application to user relationships. Today this data is spread across the enterprise network infrastructure and will be time consuming and costly to aggregate. Unfortunately, no current system tracks the relationship between user profiles, services and cost accounting.
Seeing this need on the horizon, ISI Telemanagement Solutions and VOSS Solutions have partnered to create a UC business analytics solution (UC-BAS) which was announced at the end of March. The partnership is looking to attract lighthouse customers and will be demoing the solution at various trade shows. This is an interesting application that has attracted my attention as a Certified Management Accountant.
Two key aspects of management accounting are Activity-Based Costing (ABC) and Activity-Based Management (ABM). ABC traces indirect costs (commonly called “overhead”) to products, services, and customers by identifying resource and their costs, the consumption of these resources by activities, and the performance of activities to produce output. Organizations use ABC information as the basis for activity-based management (ABM). That is, they use the understanding of their activities and their cost drivers to improve their processes raising profitability and enhancing customer satisfaction.
In a similar vein VOSS and ISI have integrated their respective fulfillment and telecoms expense management systems to create a realtime, business analytics and reporting solution for enterprise UC. The VOSS UC fulfillment engine holds realtime, event-based data for every service change and inventory level to an enterprise’s communications platform. The ISI UC mediation engine takes the UC event changes and inventory levels from VOSS, combines it with its traditional telecom CDR mediation solution, to produce realtime, business analytics and reporting for traditional enterprise voice and UC applications including unified messaging, collaboration, mobility, presence and social media. Data is organized in a user hierarchy (agency, geography, location, department, etc.) showing relationships between the user and devices (and lines/numbers), as well as between the user and services (and/or service package).
The solution provides answers to the following questions:
UC-BAS is not the type of solution that large enterprises wake up one day saying: You know this is something I have to have. It presents more of a cross-sell opportunity as well as an RFP differentiator in terms of VOSS and ISI’s UC OSS capabilities.
Currently, ISI and VOSS are in the prospecting mode for lighthouse customers. These would be large enterprises with substantial UC deployments that can appreciate the UC-BAS solution value prop and provide case studies. ISI’s direct channel is the partnership’s sales lead at present, given their expertise in telecom expense management. Service providers (SPs) are also a logical market for UC-BAS and a likely indirect channel down the road.
Today, SPs are being hit with service activations form self-care portals with self-administration capabilities. In these cases the request for activation never goes through an SP helpdesk and the CRM system is the last to know. This realtime activation is hitting the SP from the south. Rather than being top-down, north heading south it’s south heading north. It’s now a transaction that instantly activates the entire SP infrastructure and then as a final step billing is notified to start billing the service and the CRM system is notified so that the service agents have some record of what a particular customer has just ordered from the SP. Given this set of circumstances, what SPs want is a realtime event mechanism that immediately alerts their billing system to start billing, and similarly initiates CRM updates with customer BU granularity so that they can turn around and notify their customer what, where and how many new licenses are being consumed.
Down the road these realtime, event-based data will provide ABM opportunities for channel partners with business process reengineering practices.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?