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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Business communications and information access are both changing dramatically with the rapid adoption of mobile smartphones and tablets and their impact on Internet access. For an insightful view of how such change is affecting organizations and consumers, see the updated report by Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers.
The statistics reaffirm the growth of mobility and personalization that is driving change in how organizations interact with customers/consumers, as well as with their employees. In particular, they support the role of unified communications for both internal users as well as for multi-modal interactions with consumers/customers.
Keeping Customer Services Up-to-Date With Mobile, Multi-modal Self-Service Applications
Although contact center technologies from the leading industry providers are moving into public, private, and hybrid “clouds,” there are also smaller players who are moving faster to exploit mobility and cloud-based applications in practical ways that I have long been waiting for. In particular, consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets increase the role of online applications for self-services over legacy IVR applications, while UC-enabled “click-for-assistance” provides access to live support on demand. Two technology providers that caught my attention recently are Voxeo, with their approach to “Unified Self-Service” and the second incarnation of Radish Systems, with their ChoiceView Visual IVR service for smartphone users.
Of particular interest is not only how legacy IVR applications are becoming multi-media, but also how such self-service applications are supporting both inbound and outbound “mobile apps” and hosted by leading service providers. As consumers shift to mobile, multi-modal interactions with all types of organizations, legacy contact centers will increasingly become cloud-based and UC-enabled for self-services.
Business communications is a two-way-street, and not just between individual people. People contact organizations and organizations contact people using various modes of communication, exploiting online business applications and CEBP. We see increasing recognition of the need for legacy business contact centers to support such multi-modal interactions because of mobile “consumer BYOD.” However, the same concerns for flexibility and control applies to individual mobile users, who now must handle a variety of business and personal inbound and outbound contacts, except, guess what? They don’t have personal “agents” to handle inbound contacts (calls, messages) when they are too busy with something else.
So, the more ways that people can be directly contacted by other people or by business process applications (CEBP), especially in real-time (voice, SMS, IM, video calls), the greater the need to automatically screen and manage incoming contacts. Otherwise, people will be spending most of their valuable time going through emails, all kinds of notifications and alerts, SMS messages, phone/video call attempts, social networking postings, etc. For this reason, it is time to focus on the individual end user’s need for what I would describe as “unified notification” management that can deal with the dynamics of mobile contacts by recipients and individual time priorities.
The “cloud” is already being exploited to provide hosted contact center services to organizations, so can it also be used to provide personal contact management services to individual consumers?
The answer lies with the service provider(s) that the mobile user will use in a BYOD environment. Since BYOD implies the procurement of mobile devices from a service provider that also provides network connectivity, the wireless carriers are obvious candidates for such responsibilities. Perhaps this is one reason that Voxeo has spun off a new company that will provide self-service applications capabilities to service providers.
However, with a “dual persona” approach to sharing a mobile device between work responsibilities and all other personal interactions, it would appear logical to have incoming contacts controlled by the individual user for both personas, i.e., screening the contact initiator, the type of contact, the form of notification, and the options to respond at this particular time.
Some of these features have long existed under the umbrella of personal call management services (telephone answering) available to business end users, e.g., AVST, but with multimodal mobility, must be expanded.
When it comes to such notifications and alerts, there is an issue of personal time availability, as well as the mode in which the alert will be executed because of situational circumstances. Take your pick:
Clearly, the end user will have to dynamically select what will be suitable in any given situation, especially when driving a car.
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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?