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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Quick Food Quick (NYSE: QFQ) is the world's largest chain of fast food restaurants, serving around 78 million customers daily in 114 countries and yet it is plagued with inefficiency.
If you serve 78 million customers a day, one of the key sources of inefficiency is the ordering process. Ordering takes time and with an increasing variety of menu items, sometimes customers are not sure what they would like or, in extreme cases, don’t even understand all of the new options. Indecision takes an excessive amount of time.
Given this, Quick Food has determined that if as customers approach the counter, ahead of the ordering process, they are presented with a pre-populated bag of products it can greatly reduce the ordering cycle time. Imaf Ake, Chief Efficiency Officer, outlines the opportunity clearly, “If we can skip asking customers what they need, we can serve upwards of 120 million customers per day. It is the process of understanding our customer’s requirements that substantially limits our growth.” Mr. Ake goes on to say, “knowing our inventory, knowing the items that are ready to be sold and using advanced heuristics allows us to better understand what we need to ‘push’ to our customers. This drives success.”
Crazy? Certainly. Totally fictitious? Absolutely!
This imaginary example of a fast food company assuming what a customer wants before talking with them is ridiculous and yet, this is exactly what I often see related to Unified Communications. Many resellers and vendors seem to have no qualms in “assuming” what ALL customers are interested in.
Case in point, the Cloud.
According to every cloud service provider, ALL customers want to convert CapEx (capital expenditures) into OpEx (operating expenditures). This is true, at least according to “Cloud Service Providers,” even if the OpEx model ends up costing an organization more over a period of years – sometimes even over a two or three year timeframe.
I work with many organizations, and “yes,” there are organizations that would rather commit to ongoing monthly expenditures because upfront capital is difficult to secure. However, there are an equal number of organizations who simply want to minimize the overall cost to the organization over a five year time horizon.
The Cloud is much more than a mechanism to convert CapEx to OpEx. The Cloud can provide simplification for an organization. The Cloud can increase security (sometimes paradoxically as many people incorrectly assume data “offsite” is by definition less secure). The Cloud can power growth and deal with cost-inefficiencies caused by seasonal demand fluctuation.
To understand, “if” a cloud-based service (or any specific service) is applicable and what elements of the service might be attractive to your customer, you need to spend the time in the “ordering” (requirements gathering) process, no matter how inefficient this process is perceived to be.
Further, even if you are a cloud service provider, if it is determined that a particular prospect’s business needs and objectives are not well suited to a cloud solution, I would strongly recommend you tell them and move on to the next prospect. The alternative is to “mismatch” your product/service and then likely create a disappointed customer: a mediocre short-term strategy but truly a terrible medium or long-term strategy.
Perhaps in reality Quick Foods could increase the number of customers served if they simply assumed what each customer wanted. I imagine there would be a great increase in customers served on Day One followed by a great decrease in customers served on Day Two, Three and on-going. Giving customers what you have is very different than giving customers what you think they need. And actually talking with customers to understand both what they want and need is the best approach.
If you are in a position to recommend UC solutions, are you talking to your customers, understanding their business requirements, evaluating multiple options and then making a recommendation? Or, are you simply cramming some products into a brown paper bag, pushing it at the customer, smiling and saying “have a good day”?
There is still time to join the UCStrategies Experts and your colleagues at the UC Summit next week and discuss how to increase sales in a reasonable way.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
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