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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Start UC Planning With " Business Performance ROI" (BPR)

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√£Copyright 2009, The Unified-View – All rights reserved worldwide

August 26, 2009

UC “Performance ROI” – Find The ”Why” and “Who” First!

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

A recent article on NetworkWorld complains that “ROI doesn’t always pan out with unified communications” because it is hard to calculate the cost savings of UC. The article also quotes a Forrester survey of IT managers where about half say they don’t see the business value to deploy UC this year. One IT manager, who actually implemented UC applications in his organization, still complained that it is difficult to quantify the cost-saving value of the “UC stuff.”

Cost Savings – “Is That All There Is?”

In these hectic economic times, the challenge for cost savings has heightened for IT management and CFOs, but there are other business performance objectives as well, i.e., generate revenues faster, minimize losses that can result from missed deadlines or slow responses to emergencies.

A new white paper sponsored by Avaya, a leading provider of traditional telephony technology, reflects an increasing shift of enterprise UC marketing focus from traditional IT management’s concern with infrastructure technology support and cost reductions. The new starting point for UC planning begins with two areas of operational business productivity that IT doesn’t have direct responsibility for:

1. Business process performance and it’s dependencies on flexible contact with people

2. Individual end user task performance and work environment dependencies upon flexible communications accessibility and responsiveness

Both of these UC productivity metrics, labeled by my colleagues at www.UCStrategies.com, as UC-Business Process (UC-B) and UC-User Productivity (UC-U), are key to determining the priorities and choice of UC implementation needs, before IT can jump in with cost saving considerations. To maximize UC-B results, UC-U capabilities must be included.

The inherent variability between different business processes and individual end user job responsibilities means that there can’t be “one UC size fits all.” This variance will especially increase as traditional “person-to-person” voice conversational activities shift from fixed desktops to mobile devices, real-time text messaging, and “process-to-person” notifications and proactive application contacts.

Avaya’s White Paper on The UC “Secret Ingredient”

By contrast to the technology market’s traditional approach to “ROI,” the white paper sponsored by Avaya targets the business management audience, not just IT. Avaya, a dominant telephone system hardware company that has already moved into IP Telephony software, is apparently moving further up the food chain to aggressively compete with third-party consultancies to provide the necessary operational analysis for all elements of UC (not just telephony). This reflects both the complexities of multi-modal UC and implementation alternatives, as well as the current lack of in-house enterprise expertise that is contributing to the delay in enterprise UC adoption described in the Forrester market study.

The “Secret Ingredient” for maximizing UC business value described in the white paper relies on exploiting “professional services” to first determine the value priorities for the “why”” and the “who” of business operational changes that UC applications will enable. Such consulting services are needed to help objectively identify and analyze high-value communication problems or “hot spots” in current business operations that UC solutions can minimize or eliminate.

“Hot Spot” is simply another label for significant “human latency” in a business process caused by communication delays that can impact process performance and results, e.g., missed deadlines, increased overhead, loss of a customer, loss of life, etc. It applies to any important delay or inefficiency that stems from involving communication with people, either as “contact initiators” or as “contact recipients/respondents.” It also means that it includes time-sensitive contacts that are initiated by an automated business process application (“process-to-person” message notifications), not just “person-to-person” contacts.

Most significantly, however, the Avaya white paper acknowledges the increasing importance of all real-time and near-real-time contacts, not just voice conversations, as essential to mobile accessibility and business process performance efficiency and effectiveness.

Nothing Really New!

Of course, Avaya’s new positioning is nothing really new. My colleagues and I at UC Strategies and UniComm Consulting, have long advocated the view that unified communications is not just about moving TDM telephony to IP Telephony and VoIP for cost-savings, nor even to mobile phones for greater voice accessibility. More fundamentally, UC involves the flexible and effective use of all forms of communication with people - anywhere, anyway, any time.

The challenge for bringing UC efficiencies for people into high-value business processes lies in two areas of communication contact:

1. Accessibility

2. Availability


While mobile communications and flexible choice of medium will increase an end user’s ability to initiate a business contact, initiation “accessibility,” it will not necessarily increase a contact recipient’s “availability” or change in business process priorities. For this reason, the traditional telephony notion of immediate, interruptive real-time contacts has to be updated to allow for near-real-time options and more practical “as soon as possible” (ASAP) real-time connections

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: artr@ix.netcom.com or (310) 395-2360.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bringing UC To The Contact Center

Copyright (C) Unified-View, All Rights Reserved.

August 18, 2009

Hard Questions For “Customer UC” Panel Discussion

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

As UC technology slowly but surely pervades the legacy domains of TDM telephony, the most important targets, from a business operational standpoint, are any enterprise communication contacts that are customer facing. That would include dedicated call center “agents, as well as subject-matter “experts,” decision-makers, and mobile “action-takers (field support).”


(See UC Forum on contact center “Experts”) http://www.ucstrategies.com/forum.aspx?id=4543&g=topics&f=14916

The resulting UC “ROI” is not just from cost-reductions because of more efficient IP infrastructures, or even greater internal staff productivity, but because it can speed up revenue generation or prevent business losses through more responsive and efficient business processes, increase customer satisfaction and retention, and enable better productivity for any end users involved in a business process that requires timely contact with people.

While the role of UC technologies in contact centers is still evolving, it is very obvious that UC flexibility is not going to be restricted to internal enterprise staff, nor just to traditional call center “agents.” Customers and external business partners, along with internal business “experts,” will be affected. Accordingly, there are many kinds of changes that will take place in enterprise communications that will involve UC applications and customer-related activities, which I have labeled as “Customer UC.”

UC Questions For Enterprise Contact Centers

I will be moderating a leadoff panel discussion at the upcoming Internet Telephony Conference in L.A., September 1, 2009, on ”UC and the Contact Center.”

(See Session information at::)
http://www.tmcnet.com/voip/conference/west-2009/attendees/w09-conferences.aspx?t=cc#cc-01

Here are some of the basic “Customer UC” issues that will be addressed:

1. Who should be in charge of Customer UC migration planning? What are the different responsibility roles for IT, Operations, LOB management?

2. What traditional call center processes, including IVR self-service applications, will be changed first by UC? Which won’t?

3. What are key considerations for presence in a Customer UC environment?

4. How will UC benefit contact center “agents” differently than “experts?”

5. How will customer-facing business process applications be affected by UC and “CEBP?”

6. How should new Customer UC capabilities be “trialed” and implemented?

7. What will desktop requirements be for dealing directly with mobile, ”multimodal” customers?

8. What Customer UC features and functions benefits are most important directly to customers? How will they be measured?



Please feel free to send me suggestions for other questions that are bothering you about how UC will change customer interactions within an enterprise. I will be publishing the results of this panel discussion, including audience comments, in a future column.

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: artr@ix.netcom.com or (310) 395-2360.