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Friday, December 29, 2006

When "Push Comes to Shove" for UC Implementation

Copyright © 2006 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

December 29, 2006

When “Push Comes to Shove,” Priorities for Migrating to UC in 2007 Will Be Found in the Macro-productivity of Mobile User Communications

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Almost ten years ago, we surveyed enterprise members of the old Electronic Messaging Association (Email) about their interest in “unified messaging” (UM) The majority of responses indicated that only 20-40% of their organizations, primarily traveling executives and “road warriors” (sales, field service) would benefit significantly from UM capabilities. Now, with everyone becoming more mobile, and UM maturing into “unified communications” (UC), that percentage is bound to increase. But how?

2006 will be remembered as the year that everyone in the telephony industry jumped on the moving train of “unified communications” (UC). This is causing business organizations, both small and large, to start thinking about moving to VoIP and IP telephony, but, perhaps more importantly, about converging their legacy business communications with the power of handheld, mobile devices. This will no longer be just about real-time voice communications between people, nor will it be only about intra-enterprise contacts. It also doesn’t mean that existing enterprise phone systems will be immediately replaced simply because there is something better available!

The ROI of business communications – “Macro-productivity” vs. “Micro-productivity”

The initial arguments for implementing VoIP, IP telephony, and unified messaging were founded on potential Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) reductions, which are important for budgets, do little for business process improvements (BPI) and enterprise productivity. At best, TCO comes into play when making “greenfield” purchases or replacing end-of-life legacy (“brownfield”) technologies. But, if you listen to the new pitch from all the major technology providers that are now capitalizing on open IP telephony as being part of UC, they are touting the business payoffs that will come from increased “productivity,” for both individual users (“micro-productivity”) and for the enterprise through efficient group task performance (“macro-productivity”).

Micro-productivity for business communications means that individual users can save time in doing their jobs by accessing both information and people more flexibly and faster because of converged interfaces and interoperability between the various modalities of person-to-person contact. For the latter, users should be able to easily switch between asynchronous messaging (voice, text, video) to real-time IM, person-to-person voice and video calls, and multi-party voice and video conferencing. This capability becomes particularly time efficient when users have “multimodal” endpoint devices on their desktops or as mobile handheld devices (smartphones), and contact initiators can exploit presence management to determine recipient availability before wasting their time in failed real-time contact attempts.

How do enterprise business processes benefit? - Group Macro-productivity

For enterprise business payoff, however, the productivity objective is to achieve greater business process (task) performance by all involved individual users as a group (“macro-productivity”). This means that the more people involved in a business process that can realize micro-productivity through UC technologies, the greater the level of macro-productivity performance that can be achieved by the business process. So, the value of UC to the enterprise will be highly dependent upon both the role of individual users and the value of the business processes they participate in.

What this also says is that the value of UC will not be the same for every end user in the enterprise for micro-productivity. So, from an ROI perspective, UC applications will be “nice to have” for some people, but “must have” for others. Because UC also means “personalizing” dynamic control of communication access across different modalities, individual user needs and preferences will vary. So, a practical UC migration challenge facing every enterprise will be to prioritize UC implementation for the specific macro-productivity ROI of high value business processes and the individual needs of associated end users.

UC at the portable desktops vs. handheld devices

Nothing will bring UC issues into focus as much as the user interfaces that different endpoint devices provide. This is where personal mobility must be differentiated between portable (wired or wireless) desktop devices with a large screen and keyboard, vs. “always on” handheld devices that can be carried everywhere for immediate contact accessibility. The latter will have smaller screens and keyboards that will limit their use for applications that require heavy contextual information displays, e.g. customer support “screen pops.”

Mobile handheld devices are not only becoming multimodal by accommodating all forms of media (voice, text, graphics, video) in their form factors, but are also becoming platforms that support multiple operating systems (e.g., one for business applications, one for consumer applications), each with multiple application software clients. In effect, they are becoming the “always on” handheld equivalent of the general-purpose desktop PC, particularly effective for personalized mobility, and being able to interoperate with both enterprise and consumer application services. This a key factor for maximizing user adoption and realizing UC ROI, where device independence is an absolute necessity for interoperability with a variety of mobile devices carried by different kinds of end users.

Business Processes, SOA, And UC

While we tend to think of voice communications and real-time messaging as primarily “person-to-person” contacts, the reality is that business processes that need to deliver time-sensitive information to people also have a critical need for the flexibility of UC to make timely contacts with people. Whether it is a group of people that need notifications, a specific individual, or whoever is most qualified and available, business processes must be able to proactively initiate contacts and deliver information to people, rather than passively wait for a person to detect a situation and manually initiate appropriate contact attempts.

The people contacts for a business process don’t have to be only within an enterprise organization, but can include supply chain partners and individual customers. If urgent notification is a business process application requirement, then it is clear that mobile contact accessibility, along with desktop contacts, will provide a practical real-time contact solution through immediate voice or text message delivery. Such application contact may be tied to a “click to respond” automated process to accept application response inputs, display contextual information (“screen pops”), or initiate “instant” conferencing with other people, depending upon the user device available.

While Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) has become all the rage for more efficiently developing new business applications by sharing and sharing and reusing software functional modules, UC application capabilities can be developed in the same way, not only for “person-to-person” contacts, but also for the application-initiated contact to people mentioned above. The UC applications will allow maximum flexibility in making real-time contacts with people when business process priorities demand it. With a SOA approach, both the business process applications and the UC contact capabilities will be buffered from specific user endpoint device dependencies and resulting delays because of “contact latency.”

Customer Satisfaction and Productivity

In case you haven’t noticed that the power of enterprise UC is becoming more focused on customer contact applications, take another look because that’s where real revenue-generating ROI comes from. As we indicated earlier, business process macro-productivity is dependent upon all participants in the process. So, if it is a customer situation that needs attention, there will be much benefit if the customer is in the UC productivity loop as well. Since consumers are becoming both more mobile and multimodal with personalized handheld smartphones and desktop PCs, there is no reason to keep treating them as a telephone-only, primarily inbound contact.

It should be painfully obvious that any customer contact situation will benefit as part of a macro-productivity approach that UC can provide. Whether it is closing the loop between internal staff members during an initial customer contact to achieve “first contact resolution,” or in minimizing the time to resolve a customer need on an “as soon as possible” basis and proactively notify them accordingly. This also includes self-service business process applications that enable authorized customers to access information directly and perform business transactions without waiting for staff assistance. Communication accessible customers will then become more “productive” for revenue generation by being more satisfied with the efficiency of their interaction experience in resolving their needs and thereby remaining potential revenue contributors to the enterprise.


Business processes include both automated business applications that process and monitor specific business activity information and the ability to communicate flexibly and efficiently with people involved with such activity, both inside and outside the organization. The former increasingly includes mobile and remote employees, while the latter includes increasingly mobile people in partner organizations and increasingly mobile customers with multimodal devices. What ties them all together to facilitate macro-productivity efficiencies and eliminate “human latency,” are direct access to business process applications and flexible, efficient, multimodal communication services.

While it has been traditional for enterprise organizations to provide and control communication services only for their own employees working on premise (CPE), the reality of macro-productivity is that supporting all end users that are involved with a business process, but are working off-campus or are outside the organization, will be needed to maximize the efficiency and payoff of high-value, time-sensitive task completion. All this is part of an “open,” converged approach to business process applications and mobile communications. Maybe this is why Cisco recently acquired Orative and Avaya bought Traverse.

What Do You Think?

Let us know your opinion by sending us an email at, or by commenting to our new blog. (

The Math of Customer UC: blog. (

Read our exclusive articles below on hosted UC services for customer contact applications:

Online Customer Contacts: Online Self-service Needs Are Evolving

Converging Customer Self-services: What Technologies Need to Converge Between Online and Voice Self-Services?

Customer Voice Contacts: Smarter Call Center IP Telephony Routing

Stop Guessing! The Five Real Reasons For Migrating Your Call Center to IP

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Interactive Intelligence Migrates "Total" UC

Copyright Ó 2006 The Unified-View. All Rights Reserved Worldwide

December 24, 2006

Executive Interview: Interactive Intelligence Helps Enterprises Migrate to “Total” UC Faster

As I and my UC Strategies colleagues have been pointing out lately, with everyone in the computer-based information and telecommunications industry trying to become a critical part of the converging world of business communications, i.e., “unified communications” (UC), it is still difficult for both enterprise business management and IT management to understand what to do about it. Even though the legacy telephony network infrastructure is gradually being displaced by VoIP, the real challenge for every business organization, large and small, is the migration of existing telephony applications to multimodal UC.

We had the opportunity to talk about this market problem with an experienced member of the industry, Joe Staples, who joined one of the pioneering developers of software-based computer telephony solutions for the UC environment, Interactive Intelligence. Interactive Intelligence has also long been a working partner of Microsoft, supplying a software-based IP PBX that’s tightly integrated with Microsoft’s desktop applications. Joe is the Senior Vice-President of Worldwide Marketing for Interactive Intelligence.

For the purpose of this discussion, we assumed that Interactive Intelligence understands the concepts and the objectives for integrating IP telephony with both messaging and automated business processes in the same way as all the other providers in the “UC industry.” This includes the value propositions for increasing both internal end-user and “customer” productivity, as well as reducing future infrastructure support costs. What we were most interested in, however, is how the company is approaching the practical implementation and marketing issues for all aspects of enterprise UC.

1. Unified View: What segments of the enterprise market has Interactive Intelligence been targeting?


Our primary markets are any organization that needs a solution for both customer-facing and internal IP telephony communication applications. We built our offering from the ground up as a standards-based “all-in-one” software platform that includes converged applications for both customer contacts and enterprise personnel. This applications-oriented framework cost-efficiently streamlines a big chunk of UC integrations, while facilitating business process integration and providing end-to-end SIP support for maximum contact interoperability.

2. Unified View: What are you seeing in the marketplace regarding movement to enterprise UC?


UC is a very nebulous concept for most companies and they don’t really ask for “UC.” On the business/operational side, they usually focus on specific communications applications that are important to them, such as managing customer interactions, supporting remote teleworking, and more recently, providing wireless mobility. On the technology infrastructure side, security has become a bigger concern because of the vulnerability of open IP communications, while network capacity is going to be more complex because of dynamic usage across modalities of communication. Finally, business continuity and the opportunity to use hosted applications services versus traditional premise-based systems, will make UC migration easier and more cost-efficient.

3. Unified-View: What impact has the growing mobile workforce had on UC migration?


Although mobility has always been a driver of UC, the current perceptions of workforce mobility are still too narrow. They don’t include key UC capabilities like wireless messaging flexibility, presence management, and business process integration. Also, mobile communications are often viewed only as an off-premise “road warrior” need, when there are actually many practical on-premise mobility needs, where users are just away from a wired desktop, such as “corridor cruisers,” people in meetings, hospital personnel, retail clerks, etc.

The dynamic availability of mobile users requires easy access and simple availability management by contact recipients. We see that happening through standardized “status” conditions that control basic accessibility rules that don’t have to be constantly changed by end users. This approach will simplify personal contact management, resulting in features such as “on-demand” single button pushes and automatic, preprogrammed rule changes based on time of day, location, or calendar information.

We see this kind of simplistic interface for presence and availability management as being extremely critical to gaining end-user UC adoption, which, in turn, is key to enterprise migration activity.

4. Unified-View: What have been the biggest barriers and issues for UC implementation within business organizations?


As mentioned earlier, the nebulous definitions and complexities of UC are a problem to everyone in the enterprise, from IT and business management to end- users. Not only is “UC” hard to put into legacy product and service perspectives, but it is also difficult to correlate with costs and ROI payoffs. Talking about implementing just “UC” doesn’t resonate with many enterprise prospects for this reason.

IT departments won’t go out of their way to promote these applications unless end-users start pushing for them, and that won’t happen until it’s very clear how these new capabilities will help employees do their jobs better, faster, etc. Enterprise IT staff just won’t feel comfortable about replacing technology that still works without such demand and, even then, there are strategic questions about how to make the migration to UC graceful and efficient.

While smaller companies and “greenfield” locations can more easily replace existing telephony technologies, larger, distributed organizations can actually realize greater cost benefits from the move to software-based UC applications. Since we have upgraded our platform for greater scalability, and since we didn’t have to re-architect it as a “UC” solution, we’ve been increasingly successful selling into this larger enterprise segment.

5. Unified-View: Many companies have standardized on the Cisco data network infrastructure, which often leads to the conclusion that an IP-based phone system from Cisco would also make the most sense. Why would a company that’s standardized on a Cisco network choose an IP telephony system from another vendor, such as Interactive Intelligence?


Cisco is trying to capitalize on its large installed base of data network equipment, which gives it account access. It also gives it brand recognition, as in the old days when you won’t get fired for buying from IBM. But IP telephony and UC are not just about a converged network infrastructure. They are also about converged communication applications that will sit anywhere on a data network and must be device-independent. This particularly affects the complexities of real-time telephony functionality, and, therefore, an applications software server architecture that is based on open standards to maximize both application interoperability and performance efficiency.

This is what Interactive Intelligence has already done with its “all-in-one” platform, and this has been the company’s sole focus since it’s founding in 1994. We urge organizations to critically evaluate UC technology providers based on both efficient application infrastructures and end user functionality, because that is where the business process productivity payoff will come from. Just because a vendor has a track record in networking infrastructure, doesn’t mean it’s a leader in all applications that sit on the network. Remember, from a user perspective, its becoming all about application software and endpoint device independence!

6. Unified-View: Despite the convergence trend, many still believe that a best-of-breed approach out-performs products designed as part of a single-platform suite. How does the Interactive Intelligence software suite perform against these “point” products, and why would a company choose a suite approach vs. best-of-breed?


The migration challenge for IP telephony and unified communications is whether “you pay now or pay later.” There really is no free lunch!

To maximize operational efficiency and application flexibility, tight integration between voice applications are a given and have always been a problem for proprietary TDM-based telephony solutions in the past. In addition to integration and performance issues, having different business process application systems also creates greater support and maintenance problems and costs. Interactive Intelligence successfully focused on eliminating that problem for core telephony applications with its standards-based “all-in-one” IP telephony software suite.

This focus includes traditional call center activities where most enterprise “customer productivity” payoff comes from, and which is now dramatically changing because of IP telephony, mobility, and UC’s multimodal communications. A recent Benchmark Portal survey of enterprise call centers with more than 250 agents found that, on average, with “best of-breed” point products, 14 technology administrators were needed for technology support, compared to only two for “all-in-one” software suites.

However, we do recognize that migration from legacy point solutions will take time for larger, more distributed environments, so we do integrate with existing systems, including PBXs, desktop telephones, contact center ACDs, dialers, voice mail, and IVR. This means that a customer can start with whatever IP telephony applications are easiest to install or replace, but still interwork with other existing technologies until it is ready to replace them. The key factors for such migration, however, must be the business process benefits that will be realized through new communications applications, not just future cost savings in technology support.

7. Unified-View: Interactive Intelligence made its name in the small to medium sized contact center market, and is now going after the large enterprise market. How has the company’s server-based software changed to deliver maximum reliability, scalability and resiliency? What about Interactive Intelligence’s ability to successfully service and support these large companies?


As the telephony industry shifted to VoIP and SIP, we were able to expand the integration flexibility and scalability of our “all-in-one” software platform so that the needs of large, distributed organizations could cost-efficiently be accommodated. We can now deliver a capacity of 5,000 users per server, and we can cluster servers for a virtually unlimited number of users. We achieved greater performance by separating media processing from application processing. This also means we have greater application reliability for business continuity.

Especially important to larger enterprises is our open, more flexible applications architecture, which lends itself to their varied business process customization needs, as well as ongoing business process changes brought on by UC and wireless mobility. We offer all of these applications on the same platform so larger enterprises don’t have to buy separate products from different vendors for a “complete” solution, then sink a bunch of money into costly integration projects.

We also recognize that, as important as the scalability of our technology is, we are also competing based on credibility. Interestingly, with all the big vendors now touting VoIP networking, SIP, software-based IP telephony, Unified Messaging, and Unified Communications, our credibility has actually grown significantly. We used to be seen as competing on our competitors’ turf – either the entrenched legacy telephony vendors or the data networking players. With SIP and UC taking center stage, however, the playing field has shifted to our turf – that of open, converged, and centralized software application solutions. We can now boast a longer track record for providing these solutions.

With large customer deployments under our belts, including customers such as Microsoft, Motorola, BMW and many others, we’ve successfully proven ourselves in this large enterprise market.

8. More companies seem to be considering a hosted service option for IP telephony and UC, rather than traditional CPE. What plans, if any, does Interactive Intelligence have for hosting UC and/or contact center services? Will you support service providers like the new AT&T or Verizon who want to offer UC application services developed by others?


We’ve also seen a growing interest in hosted services and are in the process of expanding our disaster recovery and hosted notification services to include direct support of a variety of applications. This model helps focus the responsibilities of enterprise management on the practical value of application usage, rather than on just supporting infrastructure technology. We see our distribution channels in the SMB market segment being very valuable for selling such hosted services as an alternative to purchasing our software products.

And, yes, we also see opportunity in offering our software as a hosted service through the public carriers, thus we plan on pursuing this model as well.

What Do You Think?

Let us know your opinion by sending us an email at, or by commenting to our new blog. (

The Math of Customer UC: blog. (

Read our exclusive articles below on UC for Customer Contact applications:

Online Customer Contacts: Online Self-service Needs Are Evolving

Converging Customer Self-services: What Technologies Need to Converge Between Online and Voice Self-Services?

Customer Voice Contacts: Smarter Call Center IP Telephony Routing

Stop Guessing! The Five Real Reasons For Migrating Your Call Center to IP

Friday, December 01, 2006

UC Pays Off in "Customer Productivity"

Copyright © 2006 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

November 22, 2006

Unified Communications (UC) Pays Off In “Customer Productivity”

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

My wife never touched a computer and never will, but, when she wants to shop around for products or services, check for information, or send an email, she now asks me to go on the Web to search for what she wants, make a purchase or a reservation, or send a message, rather than make a phone call to a call center or put up with the limitations of old IVR self-service applications. For the growing population of consumers who do go online to the Web by themselves, there is even more such self-service activity.

Rich, Web-based customer services are continually increasing and displacing the limitations of the voice-only telephone as a first step for customer access to information and self-service applications. That’s a fact of life as consumers exploit the conveniences of both desktop PC’s and mobile, multimodal handheld devices for doing business over the Internet. The moment of truth, however, comes whenever customers need the added intelligence and flexibility of human assistance. That is where the power of UC will enable greater customer access to people resources, not only within an enterprise, but outside the organization as well.

From an “ROI” perspective, any technology that helps generate revenue more quickly or improves customer satisfaction and retention for future revenues will always be at the top of every business organization’s priority list. I would term this benefit of UC technology for customer contact applications as being an improvement in “customer productivity!”

Self-service Applications Driving the Need for Greater Selectivity in Customer Assistance Staffing

It used to be that telephone call centers used lots of “bodies” just to answer the phone traffic because most of the calls just needed simple information that an agent could quickly give to the caller. However, those kinds of applications became the first targets for simple self-service telephone IVR applications. New speech recognition technologies for telephone callers and online Web-based applications are now adding more complex information access and transactional capabilities to the menu of customer self-service capabilities. This fast-moving trend towards increasing the power and scope of self-service applications will further reduce the need for just “bodies” to handle simple customer needs.

While self-service applications will reduce the overall need for live assistance staffing, it is also creating a requirement for such staffing to be more selectively “expert” and “empowered” to make more complex decisions for the customer. There won’t be a “one agent fits all customer needs!” Multiple skills may become the norm for a customer contact while “first contact resolution” will still be an operational metric for customer satisfaction. In a global economy, language skills become an important qualifier for live assistance. So, while less staff may be needed quantitatively, the capabilities of that staff will be more varied and demanding, and will require more collaborative flexibility in servicing the new ways that customers will be contacting the enterprise. Enterprise “contact centers” won’t remain location-based “centers” where “multimodal” agents sit together and the telephone won’t be the only way a customer initiates a business contact to the enterprise.

Outbound contacts to customers, whether notifications and time sensitive “alerts” or deferred responses to customer requests, will also change as customers become more accessible via email, instant messaging, and wireless mobility. Not only will such outbound contacts become more automated, but also, when live contact is needed, personalized presence-based IM and mobile telephony will increase customer accessibility by enterprise staff.

We view self-services and live assistance as yet another “modality” of customer contact that will be supported by the power and flexibility of UC technologies. UC technologies will not only facilitate access to people through presence management technologies, but can also enable and increase more flexible contact with people by being “transmodal” across asynchronous messaging, instant messaging, and voice conversations. Embedding access to UC capabilities within business process applications will make access to live assistance from self-service applications more efficient and seamless for customer needs.

Migrating to the Future of “Virtual” Customer Assistance

It will take more than “two to tango” in moving towards the new multimodal world of IP-based UC and customer interactions. Both the customers and the enterprise staff will be changing their ways of accessing information and efficiently contacting the right people. The new software-based technologies will continually evolve and improve and the old communication technologies (telephony) will still have to be supported for a long time. So, it is going to be an evolutionary migration for the enterprise, and one that will offer new implementation alternatives besides the traditional CPE products, i.e., hosted and managed services.

As I highlighted in a “migration guide” for call centers that I co-authored for CMP Media’s CommWeb last year, step one in planning for migration to the next generation of “virtual” multimodal customer contact technology, is to “get organized” internally, put the right person in charge of customer contact migration planning, and start doing the homework on new operational and business requirements. The customer contact technologies have significantly improved since that report was published, but that first step has therefore become even more critical. It is not so much about what technology to buy and from whom, but rather, first things first, what will have to change operationally in how customer contacts will be handled for the future. Furthermore, UC-based customer contact technologies are not only about reducing implementation costs (it won’t be cheap to replace old technology), but the real payoffs in reducing customer support staffing costs, while at the same time increasing “customer productivity.”

New Objective Resource For UC Migration Planning – UC Strategies Web site

Since technology and service providers are still defining and developing the various components of ”UC,” it is difficult for enterprise organizations to keep up with the reality of today vs. tomorrow’s needs. I have joined with a group of knowledgeable and objective industry experts, who have helped pioneer many of the new concepts of “unified communications” technology.

To learn what is happening with new UC products and services, the impact on business processes including customer contact applications, and how your organization can more efficiently migrate to the UC future, visit our web site at:

My articles on customer contact technology are also now being published at CMP Media’s Call Center Magazine web site:

What Do You Think?

Let us know your opinion by sending us an email at, or by commenting to our blog. (

Some other exclusive customer contact insights may be found here:

Smarter Call Center IP Telephony Routing

Stop Guessing! The Five Real Reasons For Migrating Your Call Center to IP

Monday, November 06, 2006

Enterprise UC Migration: Not Just Between Cisco and Microsoft

Copyright © 2006 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

November 5, 2006

Enterprise UC: Its Not Just About Microsoft and Cisco

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

The battle for enterprise UC migration is becoming sharper and more confusing as different technology providers lay claims as to what technology piece is most important for UC implementations. Because UC affects communication applications, business process applications that will enable contact with people linked to information, endpoint device user interfaces and operating systems, and last, but not least, wired and wireless networks for transport and access security, providers of these technologies are all jockeying for position in the enterprise UC market.

Because “UC” technology is still evolving and the focus is on the different communication software applications that must now interoperate in an open IP network environment with both legacy and personalized, multimodal devices, it is hard to keep up with who is doing what with whom in the “new” IP communications industry. As a result, industry analysts and consultants are having a field day evaluating new technology products and services, “educating” the confused enterprise market, and giving advice on how to migrate intelligently to new technology that is not finished.

Why Does Yankee Group Think The Main Battle for UC Migration Is Just Between Microsoft and Cisco?

Microsoft’s official jump into UC this year, coupled with their strategic alliance with No. 2 enterprise telephony provider Nortel (after Avaya), triggered speculative comments from all the industry pundits (including myself). Most highlighted Microsoft’s need for more real-time capability and software reliability in IP telephony that Nortel could bring to the partnership. In fact, a leading question at the time of the announcement was the potential for Microsoft partnering for UC with all leading telephony providers (not just Nortel) to exploit Microsoft’s market strength in enterprise email and IM offerings for UC.

We were confused, however, with Yankee Group’s evaluation of the Microsoft UC announcement (“The Impact of Microsoft’s Unified Communication Launch” August, 2006) for two main reasons:

1. Yankee based much of their conclusions about the UC market directions on a questionable 2005 enterprise market survey of “preferred” brands of IP telephony technology, rather than on leading provider market shares of installed telephone systems that are all candidates for “migration” to UC. Cisco’s actual installed base of telephony systems is much lower than represented in that “preference” survey and doesn’t accurately reflect all aspects of an enterprise migration to a UC environment. That migration will heavily exploit IP telephony offerings from current telephony providers in conjunction with new, unified messaging, presence management, and multimodal devices. The market strength of Microsoft in enterprise text messaging, both email and Instant messaging, especially when partnering with leading IP telephony providers, was not accurately reflected in the Yankee evaluation of Microsoft’s coming UC role.

2. Although Microsoft has been successfully developing its call control interface since its introduction of Live Communication Server (LCS 2005) in 2004, Yankee doesn’t trust the reliability of planned Microsoft UC software in 2007. On the other hand, Yankee considers Cisco’s new Unified Personal Communicator (CUPC) introduced early this year, as a “more mature product.” The fact is that true UC product capabilities involve more than old telephony functions, are still evolving with federated presence and multimodal mobile devices, and should not be evaluated yet as “finished” products.

Where Will Enterprise UC Migration Start?

Yankee concluded that UC products are “mature enough and feature-rich enough that companies can use it to enable new processes,” but focused on a “pressing need” for IP telephony from their primary (telephony) vendors as a starting point. However, the report pushes enterprise organizations for faster migration to IP telephony in order to avoid the nebulous risk of “falling behind their competitors.”

As Gartner analyst Bern Elliot pointed out in his keynote presentation at the annual conference of the International Association of Messaging Professionals (IAMP) in Las Vegas last month, “Start UC migration planning with your existing communication application providers in voice telephony and text messaging (the “king” and “queen” of UC). “

After highlighting the competition for enterprise UC dominance to a choice between Microsoft’s and Cisco UC (ignoring IBM and their Lotus Notes/Domino/Sametime, as well as other leading IP telephony providers), Yankee then proceeded to evaluate Microsoft’s desktop and business process application approach to UC, compared to that of network-oriented Cisco.

· Although Yankee considers the two approaches to be complimentary, it gives too much credibility to Cisco’s embedding application intelligence within the network hardware (their SONA, service-oriented network architecture), as opposed to anywhere “on the network edge.” Gartner has questioned Cisco’s SONA concept as being fundamentally flawed because it is not application-independent enough to provide all the enterprise “intelligence” that UC will require.

· “Federated” presence technology is key to maximizing the benefits of UC across networks, enterprises, and enterprise customers. However, it is still evolving and, although Microsoft’s Office Communicator (MOC) federates with the major public IM services, the Yankee report highlighted the current lack of 2-way federation with some of the enterprise presence management technologies, including Cisco’s Unified Personal Communicator (CUPC). It is clear, however, that federating presence management is in everyone’s best interest, but Microsoft is focused on the availability status of the user rather than the status of a particular device. If a user is busy talking on a phone, they will be unavailable to talk on any other phone, and old voice-centric technologies for “call waiting” can be better handled with new, less disruptive visual messaging, such as IM, on the next generation of multimodal endpoint devices.

· While Yankee suggests moving forward with IP telephony as a first step towards UC, simply replacing PBXs and wired desktop phones will not do much for enterprise UC needs. Until operational business management identifies the productivity values of new UC functionality, including IM, presence management, multimodal devices, and wireless mobility, and business applications that need to contact people, there is no point in rushing into UC without an initial migration plan for different end user needs that will, in turn, dictate application and IP implementation requirements.

The real competition is going to be between a mix-and-match of the leaders in desktop business applications, enterprise telephony providers, mobile device developers, wired/wireless IP network infrastructure providers, and, last, but not least hosted service providers. The days of closed, proprietary software suites and hardware platforms, as well as location-based communication services are over and network-based “virtual” business applications and people are slowly taking over.

Everyone Will be Partnering and Competing For Enterprise UC!

Because the value of UC is based not just upon the importance of VoIP and IP telephony, but also on the increasing importance of real-time and mobile messaging, all current communication application services have to be considered in UC migration planning. Furthermore, by definition, UC “migration” does not mean immediate replacement of all existing business communications for everyone in the organization, but must be selectively implemented where the operational need is required, i.e., at the individual user/group level. Finally, “open” IP communications are an enabler of practical hosted application services, which, when coupled with wide-area, wireless broadband services, may provide an easier, more flexible, initial migration step for moving selectively towards enterprise UC than traditional CPE options.

After the Yankee report went out of its way to compare Microsoft UC with Cisco UC on a competitive basis, it concluded that they would be complementing (and overlapping) each other’s technology strengths. Microsoft will work with Cisco’s enterprise IP networking infrastructure, Call Manager, Unified Personal Communicator (presence management), Unity voice mail, on desktop softphones, as well the same communication application software from other providers, including Alliance partner, Nortel. Likewise, Cisco will interwork with Microsoft’s Email Exchange 2007 server, Office Communications Server 2007, and Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. For wireless UC mobility, both providers will have to support the leading smartphone OS software and a variety of mobile application clients that will work across both public and premise-based wireless networks.

The bottom line is that with interoperability between legacy technologies and new IP-based UC applications, enterprise organizations will soon be able to selectively start their UC migrations with whatever functionality is most useful to key end user need, wherever and however it is most needed, from different providers of choice.

What Do You Think?

Let us know your opinion by sending us an email at, or by commenting to our new blog. (

NEW! Listen Now to this Industry Panel Discussion on Migrating The Enterprise to UC!

The annual conference of the independent enterprise group, the International Association of Messaging Professionals (IAMP), which took place last month in Las Vegas, was highlighted by a panel of leading industry providers discussing how the enterprise should approach migration to UC. For messaging technology management (both voice and text), who couldn’t attend or listen in, this lively debate is now available for replay, courtesy of Nortel and IAMP.

(Go to the UC Strategies web site ,, for telephone access information to the session recording.)

“Everything you wanted to know about migrating to UM/UC but didn’t know who to ask!” – Moderated by Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View


Avaya, AVST, Cisco, Interactive Intelligence, Microsoft, Nortel, Microsoft,

Issues discussed include:

1. When and how should UC migration planning start in the enterprise? Who should be involved?

2. What are the biggest myths about migrating to UC that enterprise organizations should avoid?

3. What are the 3 biggest drivers for enterprise organizations to migrate to UM/UC?

4. What are the 3 biggest barriers for enterprise organizations to migrate to UM/UC?

5. How do you migrate different end user needs?

6. How important will existing text messaging technologies be in choosing UM/UC solutions and what migration changes will such existing technologies have to undergo?

7. How will UM and UC integrate with automated business process applications?

8. How will federated presence technology fit into UM/UC technologies for the enterprise and what impact will that have on users and on enterprise infrastructures?

9. What are the most significant changes to enterprise IT responsibilities needed for consolidating administration and end user support for UM/UC? How will this affect email, IM, voicemail, and IP telephony management and end users?

10. What new communication productivity metrics and tools are needed for enterprise operational management to evaluate UC usage?

11. What will happen to the traditional TUI under UC?

Read our articles on UC for Customer Contact applications

The Math of Customer UC:

Customer Voice Contacts: Smarter Call Center IP Telephony Routing

Stop Guessing! The Five Real Reasons For Migrating Your Call Center to IP

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Citrix and UC Application Integrations

Copyright © 2006 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

October 28, 2006

Executive Interview: Citrix Jumps Into UC With It’s Large Installed Base of “Virtualized” Application Users

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Now that “unified communications” (UC) is upstaging “VoIP” as the “nom de jour” for business communications, a lot of new players are coming into the picture. Some are focused on handheld wireless mobility and multimodal user interfaces, and some on communication enabled business applications. As I pointed out in a recent column, the latter involves two different aspects of user interactions with business applications. One capability enables automated business process applications to proactively make a real-time contact with and deliver time sensitive information to an end user or customer, e.g., automated notifications and alerts. The other capability simplifies person-to-person contact with people within the context of online information (“click-to contact”).

The latter is something that Microsoft has been particularly promoting in its big push towards UC, since it has control over a lot of the desktop business tools and applications that can exploit UC capabilities. However another strong player has joined the fray, because it too has a large footprint in the enterprise desktop business applications market. That company is Citrix, who’s Presentation Server is used to “”virtualize” business applications to the desktops of 97% of the Fortune 1000.

Such application “virtualization” helps centralize and simplify the maintenance of application software across large groups of distributed enterprise users, but also helps maintain the security of applications by eliminating the need to have the applications and data physically resident on individual PCs.

Now Citrix is looking to exploit it’s strategic role in desktop business applications software to facilitate the integration of applications and communications, and we talked to Citrix’s Murli Thirumale, former CEO of Net6 and now Group VP and General Manager of the Citrix Advanced Solutions Group.

AR: What is Citrix’s approach to “Unified Communications?”

MT: Unified Communications means many things to many people. Since Citrix is an applications company, what it really means to us is communications-enabling business applications so enterprise end users get enhanced productivity immediately. “Click-to-call” is a classic example of embedding telephony inside an application. Citrix’s web-distributed, auto-updating agent on the desktop, or on Citrix Presentation Server, turns every phone number in any application into a clickable field. When I click on a number, the agent contacts the communications infrastructure and has that corporate communications infrastructure place a call from the extension associated with the user to the telephone number that was clicked.

But that’s just the start. We will eventually enable our customers to click to collaborate, click to chat, or click to launch a voice or video conference, simply and easily, all within the context of an online desktop business application. Once you embed communications in your applications, it simplifies and speeds up the process of initiating communications.

AR: What are the biggest drivers for this vision?

MT: Applications are a way to capture a business process in software. Many business processes require communications with others as part of the process. A great example of this is the inside sales process which requires a lot of calling. Most of the time we see people awkwardly switching from running their application to making a call. By embedding click-to-contact inside the application users can initiate communications right from the application, an interface that they already know.

With the integration of applications there is a large leap in productivity when people involved in a business process can jump seamlessly into communicating with other people without leaving the application. The Blackberry integration of Click-to-call embedded in email is a great example of this. Once you use it, you’ll never go back!

AR: How does your company’s technology fit into enterprise UC migrations and why is it different or better than your competitors?

MT: Citrix adapts the technology to the user instead of having users adapt themselves to the technology. ”Click-to” is a great example of this. Embedding “click-to-call” seamlessly into the application creates a compelling user experience and ensures it will always be used —and this, in turn, ensures that businesses will actually profit from their investment.

Contrast this to other approaches to the same basic functionality, where the user is required to install and learn a new PC client or softphone interface to “click-to-call,” and in many cases go out of the application to make the call. Because we have such a large installed base of end users who use all kinds of business applications, we make it easy to connect them all with UC capabilities consistently across all their applications. Microsoft is targeting their applications for the same kind of integration with IP telephony. We interoperate with their infrastructure products, such as Live Communication Server and eventually Office Communications Server, as well as with the thousands of non-Microsoft business applications that are already in use.

AR: What have been the biggest market barriers and issues for your vision of telephony-enabling business applications? Communication silos, proprietary TDM telephony and integrations, voice only telephones (TUIs)?

MT: This is an area of huge buzz, but a lot of failed attempts. Telephony vendors have attempted to put new clients on desktops like softphones. Application companies have tried but failed to integrate with the various back end PBXs. Citrix’s approach of actually embedding the communications enablement inside the application is unique and creates a compelling user experience. We see the Citrix “middleware” approach as overcoming the problems that neither the application vendors nor communications vendors alone could solve unilaterally.

AR: How are you exploiting presence technologies in initiating application-based contacts?

MT: We see integrating presence with “Click-to-Contact” as essential. Seeing the availability and willingness to accept the call of the person you are calling is not just good etiquette but eliminates wasted time calling unavailable people. We have started to consolidate different sources of presence and integrate them into “Click-to-Contact.”

AR: What is your value proposition (ROI) for enterprise organizations?

MT: There are two sources of operational ROI to the enterprise:

First, enabling things that were not possible before. An example of this is with a legal client billing application that we recently rolled out. Most law firms require that their attorneys dial a client a matter code before getting an outside line. This enables the law firm to track the time and the expense of the call. The issue is that there is no simple way of confirming the correct codes when the attorney is dialing and it is impossibly tedious to enter the number so it frequently is not done. This causes lost revenue. .

We developed a “Click-to-Call” solution where it accesses information from the law firm’s legal application, provides a simple directory for the attorney to look up the client by name, and then automatically dials the number of the client and automatically enters the correct client and matter code. This saves time for the attorney, but more importantly ensures that the correct client and matter code always gets to the billing backend, eliminating manual errors, and increasing faster revenue generation (What you have described as “macro-productivity.).

The second is the individual time-saving every time a user initiates a communications contact from the application (what you have labeled “micro-productivity”). When you multiply these time savings per communications initiation by the number of times per day, by number of days per year, and by the number of employees in the organization that use this job-related , the return on investment can be both rapid and significant.

AR: What market segments are you targeting and how are you marketing to them?

MT: Our initial goal will be focusing on migrating our 180,000 Citrix customers. They have been very interested in doing more with their investment in Citrix Presentation Server. Now we have the capability of communications-enabling not only any application on Citrix Presentation Server, but also even any application that is deployed on a standalone basis.

AR: UM/UC capability has been of particular importance to mobile users who have to dynamically exploit both visual and voice interfaces depending on their immediate circumstances. What will Citrix be doing to support handheld mobile devices vs. the desktop?

MT: Our initial direction in the handheld mobile device area will most likely be supporting that handheld as the initiator of the call in a “Click-to-Call” situation. As an example, a user would be able to select which phone is their primary phone at that time. When a number in an application is clicked, the user’s selected phone (whether it is a mobile phone or desk phone) will be connected to the phone number that was “clicked.”

Mobility in how it relates to enterprise telephony is still its very early stages, not only from the perspective of many different device form factors and mobile network operators, but also because of different mobile operating systems that these devices will be using. From a mobile client perspective we are in a bit of a wait and see mode to understand what added value we will deliver to our mobile customers.

What Do You Think?

Let us know your opinion by sending us an email at, or by commenting to our new blog. (

Read our articles on UC for Customer Contact applications

The Math of Customer UC: blog. (

Customer Voice Contacts: Smarter Call Center IP Telephony Routing

Stop Guessing! The Five Real Reasons For Migrating Your Call Center to IP

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Consumer UC and Multimodal Customer Assistance

Copyright © 2006 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

September 30, 2006

Planning for the Future –

Consumer UC and Multimodal Customer Assistance

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Now that the telecommunications industry has moved beyond “VoIP” network infrastructure and IP telephony to “unified communications” (multimodal business process applications), enterprise organizations have to prepare for “Consumer UC” and the multimodal customer that will be supported by carrier services. With the flexibility of UC, live customer assistance will be able to dynamically accommodate the needs of a customer, regardless of the initial mode of contact initiation.

Such flexibility will also mean that the concept of a “blended” agent, who must be able to handle all forms of interaction with the customer, from voice to text messaging to “escorted” browsing, will become key to both staffing efficiencies and customer satisfaction. Let’s not confuse the new communication alternatives for customers who need help as being “collaboration;” its still good old customer assistance, even if internal staff may “collaborate” amongst themselves in assisting a customer!

Device-independent Live Assistance

Customer assistance contacts don’t go directly to a particular individual in the enterprise, they go through an automated business process first that can identify their needs and find available resources. That’s what legacy call centers did with telephone callers and what the new generation of “virtual,” IP-based contact center technology will continue to emulate for multimodal customer contacts. However, with the expanded capabilities of web-based, online self-service applications, coupled with text messaging communications (email, instant messaging), customer contacts will access live assistance in new ways. The limitations of the telephone interface for application self-services will shift the role for live assistance accordingly.

“Consumer UC” will enable customers to initiate access to the enterprise automated business processes (self-services) from a variety of communication devices via any of the following communication modes:

· Voice calls from wired desktop, kiosk telephones (TDM, IP “hardphones”)

· Voice calls from desktop IP screenphones

· Voice calls from “softphones” on desktop PCs and laptops

· Voice calls from handheld mobile phones (Cellular, Wi-Fi)

· Voice calls from mobile “smart\phones”

· Email messages from PCs and handheld devices, wired and wireless

· Instant messaging contacts from PCs and handheld devices

· Video contacts from desktop and handheld devices

I have specifically identified the various devices that a consumer might use in the future to initiate a traditional voice call, because, depending on the type of device capabilities, the call handling options for providing live assistance can vary. Multimodal devices will not only give customers more initial choices in contact initiation with the enterprise for 24x7 information access and self-service applications, but will also provide flexibility for accessing live assistance.

It has long been recognized that traditional “skills-based routing” routing (SBR) can be more efficiently qualified by information acquired from automated self-service applications (IVR), rather than simple caller identification and CRM customer history. As I have stated in past articles, all self-service applications are really also intelligent gateways to live assistance. However, because text messaging is already displacing many voice calls and driving the rapid consumer adoption of mobile, personalized, multimodal communication devices, screen output will be exploited by self-service applications to provide more information faster than speech output from self-service IVR applications.

The Mobile Caller and Live Assistance

As consumers continue to adopt personalized, multimodal mobile devices for both voice calls and all forms of messaging (voice, email, IM, SMS), enterprise customer contact activities will shift to support such flexibility. Calls requiring live assistance that are initiated from personalized mobile devices will need to be treated differently than traditional wired phones or desktop PCs in the following ways:

· Waiting in queue for assistance may be difficult for a roaming caller, both from a cost perspective as well as a connection coverage perspective. Higher priority might have to be accorded such a caller.

· On the other hand, an immediate callback based upon the estimated queue position wait time, may be an option offered to the caller, since the callback number is going to be personalized contact device, not a shared number as with a residence phone. Because it is wireless, it will be “always on,” making the customer accessible wherever they may be, not dependent on their location at the time of placing the call.

· The initial live response to the incoming call may not necessarily be a voice conversation. A quick text “chat” option may be more immediately available than a voice connection to a mobile user equipped with a smart phone.

· On the other hand, callers with handheld devices can’t be expected to benefit from escorted web browsing, “pushed” documentation or visual information, or extended text chats as online users sitting down at PCs or laptops with large screens and keyboards.

The Online Caller and Live Assistance

I have previously discussed the live assistance needs of the online customer as being as important, if not more so, than the traditional telephone caller. In particular, I pointed out, for example, that online shoppers who have a question, are only “a click away” from a competitor’s web site. As I headlined in my last article, the online customer who needs live assistance will the new “son-in-law” that your telephone caller “daughter” brings home.

However, the online shopper is not like a traditional telephone caller and doesn’t always need a voice connection for live assistance. Depending on the urgency of their needs, email responsiveness, text chat, and callbacks can all be exploited. With UC technologies, online customers can quickly shift to real-time live assistance, creating a dynamic source of demand traffic contact center support staff. With the more complex mix of skill and responsiveness requirements, the CRM priorities of the traditional call center get to be more complex. Not only will “apples and oranges” have to be evaluated in terms of queue priorities and skills-based routing assignments, but the subtleties of switching modalities will also have to be considered as part of the planning for next generation customer support strategies and associated technologies.

The “Blended” Agent Meets the Multimodal Customer

Jumping to the other side of the customer assistance communication space, we have to look at UC from the perspective of customer-facing staff. With consumer UC, customers will initiate contacts for assistance in a variety of ways. The challenge will be for customer-facing staff to respond to any mode of request that is required at the moment.

In the early days of telephone call centers, call center staffs were divided into two types, those who could handle incoming calls (customer service) and those who were proficient at outbound calls (solicitations, collections). Because outbound calls, unlike inbound call traffic, could be controlled, the concept of “blending” agent activities to let outbound call agents also take higher priority incoming calls whenever necessary. This “blending” approach was taken for handling other lower priority activities ranging from internal desktop tasks to customer email processing and provided an efficient source of “overflow” call handling.

Now that UC technology will enable agents to dynamically handle all forms of customer contact and interaction, efficient staffing will be maximized when every agent can deal with all modalities of customer interaction. There may be other forms of business process expertise that not all customer-facing personnel will possess, but that has always been a traditional call center organizational challenge that won’t disappear.

The challenges for contact center managers in a UC world will include:

· Training agents for handling multimodal contacts

· Determining if there is a loss of efficiency when switching between different modalities of customer contact, and applying routing logic to offset such problems

· Reevaluating queuing priorities and callback strategies for both online and mobile customers

· Revaluating outbound dialing applications in light of “Consumer UC,” federated presence, and staffing skill requirements

· Monitoring the impact of multimodal traffic on force scheduling and customer satisfaction

· Exploiting multimodal interfaces for self-service applications

· Exploiting presence and IM for collaborative customer support between enterprise personnel

· Consolidating and evaluating agent performance statistics across multimodal contact activities

· Developing consistent self-service business applications across multiple modalities of customer contact

· Evaluating migration alternatives for the “unified” contact center capabilities between traditional CPE, managed on-site technology, or hosted, off-site services.

· Reevaluating your legacy call/contact center tools and technologies to see where they will fit into your UC migration plans

The Bottom Line

Customer contact activities for any size enterprise will be affected by SIP-based “Consumer” UC devices and services that will be replacing legacy telephones. Moving to VoIP and IP telephony in the enterprise is only a lateral step in being able to support the new opportunities for efficiently handling customer contacts that are not going to be all telephone-initiated voice calls. Therefore planning for a graceful migration to the future must consider the changes that “Consumer” UC will bring to traditional call center procedures and strategies.

New Objective Resource For UC Migration Planning – UC Strategies Web site

Since technology and service providers are still defining and developing the various components of ”UC,” it is difficult for enterprise organizations to keep up with the reality of today vs. tomorrow’s needs. I have joined with a group of knowledgeable and objective industry experts, who have helped pioneer many of the new concepts of “unified communications” technology.

To learn what is happening with new UC products and services, the impact on business processes including customer contact applications, and how your organization can more efficiently migrate to the UC future, visit our web site at:

My articles on customer contact technology are also now being published at CMP Media’s Call Center Magazine web site:

What Do You Think?

Let us know your opinion by sending us an email at, or by commenting to our new blog. (

Some other exclusive customer contact insights may be found here:

Smarter Call Center IP Telephony Routing

Stop Guessing! The Five Real Reasons For Migrating Your Call Center to IP