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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As industry analysts, many of us get wrapped up in the latest and greatest – what’s coming down the road, and what new innovations will be introduced. We get excited when we hear about future products and technologies that will bring exciting changes to the industries we cover. At industry analyst conferences, vendors spend a good deal of time talking about their product roadmaps, demonstrating thought leadership, and we often get caught up focusing on product and marketing innovations at the expense of the current products and marketing messages.
At the Cisco Customer Collaboration analyst conference last week, we got to hear about both the new innovative products, as well as the core current products. I noticed this at last year's analyst conference as well. Even though Cisco introduced products like SocialMiner, they still emphasized the importance of their core customer collaboration (aka contact center) capabilities.
At the recent conference, we heard about new offerings such as Mobile Skill Manager, an update on the not-yet-released Precision Routing, and other new products. However, much of the emphasis was not on new products, but on enhancements and improvements to the core solutions. Ross Daniels set the stage by saying that Cisco has been "heads down" on executing the latest Contact Center version, Release 9.0, focusing on driving "the core execution engine that's proven so successful." Chris Botting reinforced this theme by noting that 75-80% of Cisco's product investment continues to be for core products as opposed to innovation solutions.
The clear example of this is the new Packaged CCE (Contact Center Enterprise). Packaged CCE is, as its name implies, a packaged deployment supporting up to 1,000 agents on a Cisco UCS-C260 server, providing "everything you need in a single box," including call routing (based on the Cisco Contact Center Enterprise), reporting, call control (integrated Unified Communication Manager) and self service (Cisco Voice Portal). Add-on options include multichannel capabilities, social media, speech recognition, and recording. For channel partners, Packaged CCE is sold on a single SKU, and provides them with a "low touch," reduced sales cycle. Rather than needing multiple servers, Packaged CCE uses only one server, plus one more for redundancy.
While Packaged CCE is a new product, it focuses on making Cisco's core contact center offerings easier to purchase, install, administer, and maintain. It doesn't offer any new whiz-bang technologies, but makes the tried and true products more easily accessible to mid-market customers.
The other big announcement was Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) for Contact Center, which packages Contact Center Enterprise inside the HCS framework. Aimed at service providers that can sell hosted contact center services to their customers, HCS for Contact Center provides an alternate way for organizations to deploy Cisco's Contact Center Enterprise capabilities. This service offering is particularly attractive to Cisco partners that can expand their sales opportunities and partner services. Cisco notes that they are “compensation neutral” when it comes to channel partners selling premise or hosted services. Partners selling 1,000 seats of the hosted solution receive the same compensation as if they sold 1,000 seats of a premise solution, and the hosted service can provide even better compensation for longer deals.
I always try to find a unifying theme at the conferences I attend, and the two themes I found at the Cisco Customer Collaboration event were simplicity and partner-friendly. While I don’t usually think of “Cisco” and “simple” in the same sentence, there was clear evidence that the company is trying to simplify things for its partners and customers.
The two new offerings – Packaged CCE and HCS for Contact Center – both focus on making things easier for channel partners, providing them with new offerings for their customers that are easier to sell and manage. Cisco clearly understands the needs of its channel partners, and works hard to help these partners succeed.
Cisco’s approach to marketing is also getting simplified. As Ross Daniels noted, “Cisco Customer Collaboration marketing is simple - lather, rinse, repeat.” Aside from being the most tweeted and retweeted comment of the event, it showed that for the Customer Collaboration customer (contact center customers) marketing doesn’t have to be complex, and it’s not all about the latest technologies, but about helping companies provide better and faster customer service.
As contact center customers look for solutions that are easy to deploy, manage, administer, and purchase – whether an on-premise or hosted solution – Cisco is refining some of its core products to meet these needs. At the same time, it’s offering solutions that are also easier for its partners to sell and manage. It’s not quite “lather, rinse, repeat,” but Cisco is working to make customer collaboration simpler for its customers and partners, which should ultimately make them all more successful.
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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?