Total Pageviews

Sunday, September 27, 2009

UC and Contact Center Panel Issue #4 - Where Does CEBP Fit In?

Copyright © 2009 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

September 26, 2009

“Customer UC” – Panelists Discuss Impact of CEBP on Business Applications

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

More Panelist Comments on “Customer UC”

In previous posts on what was happening with UC in the Contact Center space at TMC’s Internet Telephony show in L.A., I summarized comments by my panelists on the first three issues we discussed that face business organizations looking to exploit UC for customer contact activities.

I have labeled all customer-facing UC communication activities as “Customer UC,” which was then discussed by a panel of innovative contact center technology developers at a kickoff session, ”UC and the Contact Center,” at TMC’s last Internet Telephony conference in L.A. (9/1-3). My panelists were representatives from leading innovative contact center technology developers Altitude Software, CosmoCom, and Fonality, Here are their comments on another key issue discussed:

Issue #4. How will business process applications be affected by “CEBP” in a Customer UC environment?

With UC, different forms of business communication contact may be activated, depending upon who (or what) is initiating the contact with a person, which may be person-to-person or process-to-person. The type of contact will also depend upon the current real-time accessibility and availability of the contact recipient. As more elements of a business process become automated, e.g., monitoring sensitive status conditions, the role of real-time process-to-person “notifications” will increase, including what is commonly referred to as “Communications Enabled Business Communications” (CEBP).

CEBP commonly stands for “Communications Enabled Business Process,” which means that an automated) business process application can initiate a communications contact to a specific person, instead of it being done manually by another person. Needless to say, this kind of capability is particularly useful for contacting mobile recipients and for what some people call “outbound IVR” to exploit self-service transactions initiated by a business process application. Another term for such a capability is a “Communications enabled application” or CEA, which can apply to non-business applications as well, e.g., entertainment, social contacts, games, etc.

Like everything new that is falling under the umbrella of UC, the definitions for “CEBP” can be confusing. Microsoft’s OCS enables it’s online users to “click-to-call” contextually from information within any online software application. And, of course, there is competition for the term itself from the likes of “all-in-one” enterprise communications provider, Interactive Intelligence, with its communications-based workflow platform it describes as providing “CBPA” (Communications-Based Process Automation). The difference claimed there is that CBPA consolidates work flow activity on a communications-based platform, making contacts with people at any point in the process flow readily accessible, while CEBP doesn’t go beyond enabling individual applications within a work flow process to contact people.

The business application contact target could be any end user, including people within a business organization or external users such as business partners and consumer/customers. The contact initiator can also be any type of end user who may be using a CEBP application, or it could be initiated pro-actively and directly by a CEBP application itself to send personalized information or a notification to a specific person.

Process-to-person forms of contact initiation will require the business application involved to interoperate with various communication applications (telephony, messaging, presence management, routing information, etc.) just as a person would, providing specific contact information (name, “addressing”, etc.). However, an automated application that can make contact with a customer’s phone (mobile or desktop), will obviously not be expected to carry on a voice conversation that people do.

Panelist Comments

· The technology for enabling business process applications to exploit UC capabilities at the recipient end, particularly customers using mobile “smart-phones, is complex and still evolving.

· Today, CEBP is still very much the exception and not the rule, when you consider the fact that 75% of businesses in the US are under 20 employees.

· CEBP needs to complement existing business process applications enabling different forms of contact and interaction between the contact initiator (application process, person) and the recipient (person).

· In a contact center environment, CEBP must support the basic objectives to align a customer need with available types of company support resources -i.e., self-service, live assistance or a combination of both. This can be done on the traditional contact center “on-demand” response basis, or pro-actively by automated business process applications that monitor and respond to dynamic status information.

· UC flexibility improves contact accessibility and thus flexibility when person-to-person contacts are required. Increased accessibility through both mobility and UC flexibility will make CEBP applications more useful and productive.

· Unified Messaging will be a key UC application that enables a business process application to efficiently deliver a time-sensitive notification to an accessible (mobile) customer for information delivery. Coupled with “click-to-interact” with an online or IVR self-service application, or “click-to-talk/chat” for live assistance, the customer can immediately execute time-sensitive transactions that require attention.

· If CEBP is deployed correctly, it will be perceived positively by customers and will also reduce traditional on-demand contact needs.

Example: Proactive flight status notifications that advise a passenger of gate changes and departure time changes can proactively provide timely updates to a mobile customer. Customer will rely on such timely and up-to-date notifications to avoid, minimize and correct their travel problems.

· The impact of such timely access to personalized information will be greater customer satisfaction and loyalty and reduced labor costs for handling unnecessary on-demand contacts.

· CEBP is, by its nature, a highly customized business application development and almost always requires an integration and/or professional services design and development effort. However, off-the-shelf CEBP applications that apply to horizontal industries can be useful in minimizing the costs and effort in developing customized versions.

· The growing adoption of mobile “smart-phones” by consumers and business users will be a major driver for implementing CEBP for both customers and customer-facing staff.

· Such use of mobile devices will also enable CEBP to tie in comfortably with personalized, self-service options on a proactive, rather than just on an “on demand” basis. This will minimize the need for staffing customer assistance and associated costs, in order to maximize customer satisfaction.

What Do You Think?
You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.