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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Unified Communications Pays Off For Deadlines

August 6, 2008

Looking For Real Business Payoffs From Unified Communications?

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Reducing operational costs, end user personal productivity, and even customer satisfaction have been thrown at the unified communications wall as justifications for implementing business UC technologies by enterprise organizations.

If you have been keeping up with all the blogs about the ROI of Business UC and how to plan a practical migration to unified communications, you will have noticed that everyone is emphasizing the importance of communicating with people relative to specific business process performance. That has become the centerpiece for prioritizing UC implementations. This view logically highlights the communication delays (“human contact latency”) caused by people in business process workflows as “hotspots” that can be significantly improved with the flexibility and intelligence that UC applications bring to the business operations table.

UC benefits should result in faster and better business process performance, which in turn would reduce costs, generate faster revenues, and minimize any losses or penalties that delays and missed “deadlines” could cause. It is the “missed deadline” penalty that I see as a key driver that may get overlooked in implementing UC by a business organization. This is the business productivity ROI (“UC-B”) that will get the attention of enterprise management.

Normal Business Communications vs. “Deadlines”

Wherever there are delays in operational performance because of difficulties in making contact with a person, UC communication flexibility and “intelligence” will help “streamline” any standard business process. The ROI from reducing such “human contact latency” will vary depending upon the value of the business process itself, as well as the amount of improvement that can be realized from UC. However, if there is no big penalty caused by a communication delay, e.g., a day or two, the benefits to a business process will be marginal.

Typical workflow planning allows for reasonable human interactions and task performance, both as individuals and as part of a group. Should there a significant payoff in faster revenues or lower operational costs (including lower headcount, overtime, etc.), than there is a good case for implementing UC to “streamline” a business process.

Where Do “Deadlines” Fit In?

Usually, a “deadline” problem arises because something happens unexpectedly or goes wrong in normal business process. So, although it is something that must be expected, it is usually not part of routine procedure, but an exception that may other people.

While it is nice to streamline normal processes, it is usually more critical to streamline any procedure that can be impacted by a “deadline” problem. The consequences of failing to meet a deadline situation can range from loss of life to loss of business and higher costs. So, we see communication priorities escalating and UC capabilities being exploited as soon as a deadline issue surfaces within a business process.

Deadlines can be monitored by either people or automated processes, and both should be able to trigger the appropriate response process, including notifying all the appropriate people involved as soon as possible. That is where the flexibility of multimodal communications and mobile devices come into a play to minimize the “human contact latency” of telephony and messaging.

So, when looking at business process efficiency, business organization should be looking at both “normal” work” flow operations, as well as the “exception” cases where bigger losses will result because of human contact latency. Automated monitoring and reporting of such exception situations will be a step forward in minimizing the delays of human involvement to prevent or remedy operational problems. However, that is really only the beginning of a solution that requires people to be communication-accessible and responsive as efficiently and as flexibly as possible, and not just through voice connections either!

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.

Confused About Implementing “UC?”

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