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Thursday, September 28, 2006

UC and Business Processes - Webinars

Copyright © 2006 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

September 28, 2006

How Are Enterprise UC and Business Process Applications Converging?

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

IP networking is enabling major paradigm shifts in how enterprise organizations will function in the future. While the technology will affect both the people and the business processes, the reverse is also true, i.e., the needs of the people and the business processes will dictate how the technology will be deployed and exploited. The basic “new” infrastructure technologies that are changing how enterprise business operations will function are Internet/Web network access to people and information, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) for network-based application software implementation, and wireless mobility for communicating with people and business processes. These technologies will enable business organizations of any size to operate more efficiently and cost effectively in the future. Although business process improvement objectives are not really new, just more attainable with new technology capabilities, every enterprise must face the challenge of adapting organizationally to such changes.

Every enterprise will have different operational needs, not only based upon the business it is in (vertical markets), but also how the organization is distributed geographically and the kind of customers it must serve. In an increasingly global economy, local market differences must be accommodated by both customer-facing staff as well as by automated self-service applications (online Web and telephone). In a distributed user environment, which includes any business process involving two or more people, IP technologies will enable centralization of application software processes, while also “virtualizing” the people components of such business processes.

Business Processes To Contact People

There are really two areas in evolving unified communications where business processes will benefit from the increased flexibility in making contact with people.

1. Facilitating direct people to people contact within the context of online information or automated business processes

- This involves the ability to embed contact information links in any form of information, documents, pictures, etc., along with appropriate permissions for initiating different forms of contact. This is the area that Microsoft is developing for its online business tools in conjunction with IP telephony technology. A contact may be a single specific individual identified in the information for “collaborative” interaction, or could be a member of a “group” of assigned, qualified people available at that moment in time to handle any questions. (Sound like a call center?)

2. Facilitating time-sensitive delivery of information to people regardless of location and modality of contact.

- As automated business processes monitor and detect the need for some sort of people action, such processes will also exploit the flexibility of mobile and multimodal contacts with specific or available individuals. Example, being notified that a flight has been delayed or cancelled, or that a critical operational metric has been reached.

Both forms of communication activity will benefit business process performance and problem resolution by facilitating flexible and timely contacts with key personnel. Such “ROI” will pay off in enterprise “macro-productivity” involving collaborative tasks. Identifying specific end users in an enterprise, whose job responsibilities are mission-critical, require being accessible and responsive, will be one of the top prerequisites for cost-effective UC migration planning.

Marty Parker’s well-attended panel session at VoiceCon Fall on migrating to UC was highlighted by the speakers from Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, and Nortel who underscored the need for enterprise management to prioritize the operational business application requirements selectively for those end users that will benefit from the flexibility and efficiencies of new UC functionality, particularly when they are mobile.

Voice/Unified Messaging, as a key component of UC, is one area that is in the midst of a challenging transition for virtualization and business process integration. Some companies are showing the ability to make messaging a valuable part of improved business processes; these companies have typically integrated voice messaging with e-mail to create unified messaging and have extended the functionality to desktop and mobile clients. Other companies have not made such transitions and find the voice messaging is usually declining in use, displaced by IM and e-mail. These issues will be a focus during the upcoming IAMP Conference described below.

10th Annual IAMP Conference to Highlight Free “Virtual” Sessions on Enterprise Migration to UC

The International Association of Messaging Professionals, an independent enterprise user group focused on the convergence of telephony and messaging, will again host several free webcast sessions at their annual conference taking place in Las Vegas, October 16-18. IT management responsible for telephony, and voice/text messaging technologies in their organizations are invited to participate free of charge. Check the IAMP web site for more information at:

There are three webcasts scheduled as follows (Pacific Time):

Monday, October 15, 2006 – 8:15 – 9:30 AM 
 Keynote- Bern Elliot, Gartner VP Research,
Unified Communications - What is it and why you should care?”

(Webcast information not available, but will be posted on the IAMP web site)

Tuesday, October 16, 2006 – 10:45 – 12:00 Noon

“Virtual Session #1” – Provider panel discussion (hosted by Nortel)

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

Invited panelists from Avaya, Nortel, AVST, Microsoft, Interactive Intelligence, Cisco

Register online at:

Questions to be discussed by UC technology providers include:

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

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

3. How important will existing enterprise text messaging server and client software technologies in choosing UM/UC solutions and what migration changes will such existing messaging technologies have to undergo?

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

5. 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?

6. What are the most significant changes to enterprise IT responsibilities needed for consolidating administration and end user support for UM/UC?

7. What new communication productivity metrics and tools are needed for enterprise operational management to evaluate user activity?

8. What kind of objective, external assistance do enterprise organizations need to realistically plan their migration to a UC operational environment?

Wednesday, October 17, 2006 – 10:15 – 12:00 Noon

“Virtual Session #2” – “Messaging Migration Customer Experience Panel”

Moderated by Marty Parker, Communication Perspectives

Invited panelists are enterprise IAMP members who have already started or are planning to start migrating their messaging systems and will report on the operational impact experienced, as well as the migration challenges they have encountered.

The audio bridge number is 1-641-696-6699 with a participant code of 101806 (the mmddyy date).

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

Monday, September 11, 2006

UC Business Migration Drivers vs. IT Concerns

Copyright © 2006 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

September 10, 2006

UC Business Migration Drivers vs. IT Implementation Concerns

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Because “unified communications” (UC) technology is still slowly evolving, its definitions are also slowly becoming sharpened. What is becoming most obvious about UC is that it is taking voice telephony into the domain of open, multimodal communications and information delivery between people and automated business processes. What are still contributing to the confusion in the marketplace are the two enterprise perspectives for justifying technology change. One is the IT perspective, which is mainly concerned with implementation costs and ease of maintenance and support (including security and reliability), the other is the operational, end user perspective that looks for value and ease of use in adopting the functionality that UC capabilities will offer. Enterprise management at the top must obviously be interested in both perspectives, but which must come first in UC migration planning?

The “Why’s” vs. the “How To’s”

End users could care less about what IT worries about, as long as they get what they need or want from the technology to do their jobs more easily and efficiently. On the other hand, IT management is charged with delivering the technology that end users need and want. Because there is so much “business process” that can now be automated and improved by computer software, IT management is being admonished to “align” themselves with “business units” in order to understand what those end users need and want. My question is, exactly how are they really doing that?

In reading all the hype about “productivity” that technology providers cite to enterprise IT technology buyers, I get the feeling that the provider industry is pushing the “cart before the horse,” as far what end user application needs are. In the case of IP telephony and UC, one would expect that future enterprise user needs would be identified and perhaps even quantified before implementation decisions can be made. As highlighted by my colleague, Marty Parker, in his blog “Are We Flying Blind?,” there is really more homework to be done by individual enterprise organizations, not only to plan their technology migration priorities more accurately (“How to’s”), but also to validate the “Why’s” for moving to UC.

Looking Forward, Not Backward!

In a recent article in BCR magazine on the subject of UC migrations, I cited some recent research on business communications, published this year in the Communications of the ACM, the journal of the oldest, independent computer association in the U.S., the Association for Computing Machinery. The research was conducted by two university professors, one from the University of Texas, and one from the University of Arkansas. The research was prompted by the impact of the 9/11 attacks on business travel and face-to-face business meetings.

The study examined the value of all forms business contact in making business interactions in distributed relationships “richer” and more effective. These included face-to-face meetings, videoconferencing, telephone conferencing, email, snail mail, and fax. As highlighted in the ACM article, face-to-face meetings were rated as the richest form of business contact, followed by videoconferencing. However, what was most surprising was that asynchronous email was rated almost identically as high as phone calls for maintaining business contacts. One factor that could have influenced the richness value of email was the ability to include contextual information as attachments or links, something that traditional phone calls can’t do. The article concluded that these findings might signal that frequent messaging interactions, including instant messaging and voice/unified messaging, will blur the perceived need for traditional telephone calls to people.

What’s More Important “Costs” or “Needs”?

As enterprise personnel increasingly become more mobile and/or remote teleworkers, efficient and effective distributed business contacts will become more important. This in turn will change the metrics of business process workflows and their dependency on contacting people in a timely manner. So, the ROI benefits of UC will include:

1. The costs of communication equipment and services,

2. The costs of IT technology administration and support,

3. The individual end user time-savings in more easily making successful communication contacts (“micro-productivity”),

4. The operational benefits of maintaining coordinated business activities and speeding up priority task completions between end-users in a distributed environment (“macro-productivity”).

Looking at this list, which factors should really be investigated and identified first in planning a UC migration?

My view has always been to first look at new technology as if it were all free and didn’t require any effort to implement. The value of using such new capability would need to be identified before anyone would bother to use it. Right? So, now that there are costs involved and implementation options, why don’t enterprise organizations do their operational homework first, before looking at costs and configuration requirements?

Doing the Enterprise Operational Homework for UC Migrations

It should be clear that the evolution from traditional telephony to IP telephony in the context of UC must consider all forms of messaging activity that can now generate call traffic, and vice versa. With wireless mobility and “instant conferencing,” traditional two party phone calls can quickly escalate to multi-party connections. Even from the perspective of configuration planning, there will be a convergence of communication traffic that will not be the same as before.

More importantly, the flexibility of contacting people more efficiently will pay off at both the “micro” and “macro-productivity” level. That is where the operational and business ROIs need to be identified and estimated as a first step in migration planning. Don’t look for “hard” numbers there, because until user experience is realized, it will only be a guess. Even looking quantitatively at the experience of other organizations in the form of so-called “best practices” can be misleading, because every organization is going to be somewhat different in how they do things and the value of communication efficiency will vary.

Good Old Needs Analysis and Pilot Testing!

A traditional first step for communication technology procurement planning has been an objective “needs analysis” based on the job requirements for all the end users in the organization. It’s pretty easy to do when it is familiar old technology that is involved and users can tell you exactly what they need. With the new options of UC and the flexibility of personalized, multimodal and transmodal communication usage, the needs analyses have to be more “predictive” of future usage. (It is also a good opportunity for preparing end users for change!)

Another practical and complementary approach to surveying end user needs is doing “pilot” studies, where a small group of users trial UC functional capabilities, and their usage activity data are compared “before” and “after,” along with constructive feedback on the “experience.” Such trials should not simply use legacy communication devices (i.e., desktop telephones, desktop PCs), but also be based upon mobile and multimodal devices that UC can fully exploit. IP-based communications lend themselves. “Pilot” testing is also a good way for enterprise IT to become familiar with the new world of IP communications and UC capabilities and enable a more intelligent decisions for selecting managed, hosted, or traditional CPE implementations of UC.

Doing this type of operational homework first will be far more important for UC migration planning, than worrying about which technology to buy first and from whom. However, it will be a challenge for the busy enterprise, with limited internal expertise, to do all this by themselves. For this reason, the flexibility of IP communications that facilitates managed and hosted solutions will also enable objective, third-party consulting expertise to help manage doing the UC migration homework right.

What Do You Think?

When should the enterprise start its UC needs analyses? How objective should third-party consulting for such analyses be? Who in the enterprise should be responsible for the operational needs analysis? Should “Customer UC” be treated separately? How can IT help? Will end users know what UC technology they need to do their jobs better? Is it worth it to “pilot” UC capabilities including trialing various endpoint devices? What role will usage parameters, e.g., “multimodal minutes” (Jeff Pulver’s IP “purple minutes”) play in quantifying the benefits of UC?

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

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Welcome Aboard, Zippy!

Copyright © 2006 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

August 31, 2006

Big Move for “Zippy” Grigonis

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

VON Magazine started out three years ago under the auspices of Jeff Pulver, focused on VoIP and IP communications. From the very first issue, the excellent content was supported by the contributions of a bevy of objective, seasoned contributing experts from around the world, but, most significantly by the Editor-in-Chief, Richard “Zippy” Grigonis. Zippy, a seasoned technical writer from Harry Newton days of Computer Telephony magazine, not only wrote several comprehensive articles for each issue, he even wrote pieces that didn’t have his byline on it. Bottom line, his personal writing contributions were the mainstay of VON magazine’s success.

All that has changed with the announcement that Zippy has departed from VON magazine and taken over the helm of TMC’s Internet Telephony magazine. Knowing Zippy, I expect that publication to get more pumped up with the realities of where IP telephony is going as a key component of “unified communications” (UC). Maybe TMC will even change the magazine’s name to reflect the fact that multimodal messaging is now considered as important as telephony in business communications and the two are converging to provide seamless user interoperability and interfaces between real-time and asynchronous forms of personal contact.

In any event, congratulations to both Zippy and TMC on this propitious announcement that heralds better awareness and understanding for both the communications industry players and the enterprise markets to keep pace with the evolutionary, but dramatic, changes taking place in business communications.

Welcome aboard, Zippy!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"Consumer UC" - Enterprise Gaining A Son-in-Law

Copyright © 2006 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

September 5, 2006

Consumer UC – “Gaining a Son-in-law, Not Losing a Daughter!”

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

With all the talk of telephony infrastructure migrating to IP networks that is going on these days, it’s hard to figure what effect it will have on business process applications. That will be especially important when it comes to customer interactions that are key to revenue generation and customer retention.

For those who just looked at “VoIP” as a cost saving way to handle traditional phone calls, nothing will really change until it is time to replace legacy systems. However, VoIP and IP telephony applications are finally being perceived as becoming part of “unified communications (UC),” which, in turn is being defined as a means of improving business processes through more flexible and efficient communications with people, and not just traditional phone calls. There are lots of “UC” definitions now being tossed around by technology developers in order to make their product and service offerings fit under that hot, new label. However, as I pointed out in a recent article on UC, because enterprise communications is all about business relationships with people, there are going to be several “flavors” of UC functionality.

“It Takes Two to Tango!” – Enterprise Staff and Customer Interactions

The traditional voice telephone has long been the mainstay of real-time communication contact between people. For business enterprises, it has also become the key technology for a variety of mission-critical interactions for customer-facing staff in traditional call center operations. However, when online customers started to use other disparate forms of contact initiation, i.e., email, web forms, and Instant Messaging, enterprise organizations scrambled to reorganize their technologies and staffing resources to handle such contacts in a responsive manner.

The first convergence challenge for the enterprise has been to enable its valuable staff resources to efficiently handle these different “channels” of customer contact. Not only does contact center staff have to be able to interact in the customer’s channel of choice, but, from a CRM perspective, the context of any “intelligent” interaction has to reflect all previous interactions, regardless of channel or modality.

Now that IP convergence is bringing telephony, IM, and asynchronous messaging UC functions into one networked “channel,” multimodal and transmodal customer contact flexibility is going to become more practical. This will benefit customer support staffing and infrastructure cost efficiencies, as well as satisfy the business process needs of customers through automated “self-service” applications whenever possible.

It’s Not Too Early To Plan For Coming “Consumer” UC

All aspects of traditional customer contact activities will have to converge to support both telephony and online interactions. That is driving enterprise UC migration planning teams to analyze their current call center activities and plan their future needs for consolidating multimodal customer contacts. Because most customers are still using traditional TDM telephony, along with increasing access to enterprise web sites, there is a tendency for enterprise planners to simply treat all customer contacts as still originating from separate “silos,” i.e., using either a telephone or an online PC to initiate different contacts with the enterprise. Accordingly, “UC” technology products and services for customer contacts (“Customer” UC) are initially focused on contact convergence from the enterprise side, rather than from future perspective of the potential of UC for customers as well.

UC is in the process of evolving as a new set of services that will benefit consumers and all their communication contacts – family, friends, contacts with businesses, government, etc. (“Consumer” UC) Inasmuch as individual personalization is a highlight of UC communications, it will be a natural for consumers. Service providers and “carriers” are busily planning their migrations to IP and SIP protocols for both fixed and mobile networking (FMC). So, it is only a matter of time before the power of UC will become available to customers to actively exploit as consumers, not just as passive, limited beneficiaries of enterprise UC technologies.

Just as enterprise “Customer” UC will have to immediately support traditional telephone and PC –based customer-initiated contacts, it will also have to soon recognize and support customers who start using the power of “Consumer” UC services and new multimodal devices. This is an area that enterprise IP contact center planning must consider for “future-proofing” any near-term implementation decisions.

The Enterprise Customer Contact “Son-in-Law” – “Consumer” UC

The enterprise has long dealt with their customer contact “daughter, the telephone. Like the daughter in the family who is getting married, the enterprise is not losing their “daughter,” the telephone caller, but will be dealing with their new “son-in-law,” the multimodal customer, who will be exploiting new “Consumer” UC services to interact with the enterprise. The next generation of customers, who are growing up with PCs, the Internet, and multimodal, mobile communications, with be the driving force for tomorrow’s enterprise customer interactions, not just yesterday’s residential telephone callers. So, in planning for the migrating to IP customer contacts, it must not be only about traditional telephone call processing, but the needs of mobile and multimodal communication consumers.

New Resources For Understanding the “Flavors” of UC

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 pioneered the new concepts of “unified communications” technology. To learn what is happening with UC products and services, the impact on business processes, and how your organization can effectively migrate to the future, visit the 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 customer contact insights:

Smarter Call Center IP Telephony Routing

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