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.
This section offers learning tools to help you plan your unified communications implementation.
This section provides a practical, vendor-independent service to any Enterprise that is seeking the benefits of Unified Communications. How do you pull everything together to implement unified communications? Use the tools in this sequence to define unified communications for your business.
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This is part one in a review of the seven major applications for Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) as introduced last week in “UCStrategies VAR-SI Series: Building Your UC Applications Practice.” Part one will look at the CEBP applications that will Optimize Resource Utilization.
The purpose of Optimize Resource Utilization is to efficiently engage the best and/or most economical resource for the specific business process or purpose.
Resources are key to an enterprise. This is especially true for the human resources – the talented, trained and certified people who produce and deliver the enterprise’s products or services. Too frequently, these resources can be underutilized or wasted due to communications inefficiencies. When people attempt to get help only from the people with whom they are familiar or who are on their "buddy list," a lot of wasted time and effort can ensue and qualified resources who are available but are not "buddies" can go un-tapped.
The new UC tool known as "enhanced presence" or "rich presence" is a great way to immediately locate who is available to perform a task, answer a question, assist in a project, or approve a request. In some applications, software analysis of presence properties such as location proximity or skills applicability can be used to make the best connection immediately.
Compared to the old method of making multiple uninformed calls that land in voice mail and sending multiple e-mails requesting a response, even basic availability-only based presence is reported to save 5%, 10% or more in daily workloads, while also accelerating business results. Advanced desktop tools such as the resource finder and skills search functions of the Microsoft Lync client or the IBM Connections client or other similar user software or widgets can improve resource utilization even more dramatically.
In advanced applications, enterprises are applying CEBP tools for even better resource management. When a resource is needed with specific skills, certifications, roles, knowledge, or other attributes, software can assist in the process to automatically locate the best resource to meet the immediate need. In some cases, as shown below, improvements can range as high as a 70% reduction in labor content in some business processes. CEBP applications in this category are driving investments across industry categories, ranging from government and healthcare to manufacturing and professional services.
Benefits from Resource Utilization applications include: reduced labor content in the business process; better utilization of trained resources which reduces staffing costs or improves service; and faster services or task completion which often increases revenues and margins.
For one example, Global Crossing (see page 7 of this white paper) applied CEBP methods to find automatically the best on-shift, skilled, and available engineer to resolve customer issues at their help desk. They are now able to complete the problem resolution via Instant Messaging 70% of the time and the number of phone calls per trouble ticket dropped from 5 calls to 0.3 calls (a single phone call was only needed for 30% of the tickets). The effect was a significant reduction in labor cost per ticket and an 80% improvement (i.e. reduction) in customer response times.
Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas, serve over 1.8 million citizens with security and public services involving over 40 agencies. Coordination via radio systems was a major challenge. Major improvements were possible through a CEBP solution in which Unified Edge, an IBM Systems Integrator, delivered Radio Connect for Sametime which integrates the emergency response radio systems into the Sametime Instant Messaging and presence UC client. Users can monitor multiple radio channels from a single Sametime client and can communicate with either IM to other agency command posts or with voice over radio channels to the field personnel. The radio-over-IP technology allows operators to identify the actual person communicating, his or her rank and other details not previously discernible when monitoring chatter on a radio. Tarrant County can now, “easily gather information, find the persons or agencies most appropriate to help and respond, and quickly direct them to exactly where they are needed.” During a major, unseasonal snow storm prior to the February 2011 Super Bowl, the system was key to resolving all issues prior to the Super Bowl event, expanding the concurrent communication capacity by 67%.
BT Global Services, a global professional services organization, needed to find resources and to communicate with their highly mobile manager and professionals. For this purpose, BT developed a suite of small CEBP applications for internal use and for customer projects. Among the most popular is BT Finder, an application that combines several features and services in a single piece of software that can locate resources by location, skill, role or project, in addition to finding them by name. BT also created its IM-SMS application, which lets users easily merge PC-based instant messaging functionality with the Short Message Service (SMS) capability used on almost all cell phones. The benefits include greater employee productivity, increased business efficiency, and more business opportunities. In an organization where time, literally, is money, the ROI for this investment is both obvious and compelling.
Clearly, CEBP applications are proving the capability to Optimize Resource Utilization, with clear business justifications.
Next week: Accelerate Transaction Completion.
Also on UCStrategies.com in this series:
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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?