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Monday, December 20, 2010

iPads and Tablets Join UC

Copyright 2010 (C) Unified-View, All Rights Reserved.

December 15, 2010

Will iPads and Tablets Replace Enterprise Laptops and Desktop Softphones for UC?

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

In the early days of UC, “softphones” (screen-based PC telephony), offered UC flexibility where traditional desktop “hardphones” were lacking. It is still a viable alternative for wired, location-based telephony.

However, mobile smartphones are making a huge dent in the consumer and business user markets for multimodal UC applications. That is, until the larger screen size of tablets came into the picture. Now, a user has a choice of two kinds of mobile devices, one convenient for the hand and one portable enough to carry along, but with a larger screen interface for better visual information access.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece on the subject of mobility and what the user experience would be like if the user was standing up or sitting down. Obviously, that experience will vary with the size of the device, the screen, and its impact on on the user interface. When worse comes to worse, and no screen can be looked at (e.g., driving a car), then speech interfaces come into play, and that is one good reason that mobility needs multimodal UC flexibility.

So, with UC convergence, business applications need to be endpoint device independent, not only in terms of screen-based interfaces vs. speech interfaces, but also based on the size of the screens for handheld devices , portable tablets and iPads, and wired desktop PCs. The choice will be based upon who the users are and what they need to do their jobs, whether premise-based or mobile. It is becoming intuitively obvious that most business users will want to use a single, personalized smartphone when mobile for both their business and personal contacts with “dual persona” access management and services (two addresses). In addition, they can also use a desktop device on a transient basis, using the current network address of their choice.

All this represents a significant shift in old telephony networks, but not to Internet communications, which have always been “virtual.” So, that’s what is shaking up the enterprise communications world while the migration shift slowly takes place. In the meantime, will multimodal PC “softphones” be replaced more easily by portable/mobile iPads and tablets when a bigger screen is needed for data output? How will the enterprise support such flexible mobile service with CEBP - based applications? Will the choice of mobile tablet become like the smartphones, that of the individual end users’ because of its support for personalized UC?

Variance in device screen sizes and form factors brings with it the problems of standards, impact on Operating Systems, as well as the user applications themselves. The success of Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) will be very dependent on resolving these issues, because outbound notifications and information delivery to individual end users will be based on greater (process-to-person) accessibility through user mobility.

Enterprise CIOs are already starting to look at their responsibilities for information access and delivery from both a mobility perspective, as well as from responsibilities to non- enterprise employees (business partners, customers). They all want multimodal information access, as well as multimodal, federated, contextual communication contact with appropriate people within and outside of their organization. Device independence is quickly becoming key to such flexibility and can’t be restricted to what the enterprise supplies but what it can support.

For a roundup of other major UC developments in 2010 check out the recent podcast of UC Strategies experts, particularly that on the coming role of UC tablets.

What Do You Think?

Contact me at (310) 395-2360 or at

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Getting Mobility In Step With UC

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

November 3, 2010

Free Mobile Backup Service For End Users Also Supports “User Choice” in Communications

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

While enterprises and service providers have been moving quickly to support their end users and customers with the latest and greatest UC technologies, supporting multimodal mobile devices (smart-phones) will be one of their biggest challenges. Why? Because they will be constantly evolving as devices and with their mobile OSs, must be mobile application-independent, and be highly personalized in a variety of ways.

Since mobile products and technologies are still evolving and everyone is still learning to deal with "multimodal mobility" vs. traditional desktop communications and traditional cell phones, there will be ongoing competition for different devices and associated services.

Wirefly Mobile Backup Will Help End Users Keep Up With Smartphone Evolution

Because one of the big problems with mobile devices is that they can be easily lost or stolen, end users will always need a way to easily replace what they already have. Coupled with the possibility that they may simply want to move to a new device or service, the first free, automatic, cloud-based mobile data backup service available to consumers from developer Spare Backup and Wirefly fills both bills.

Works Across Carriers, Manufacturers, and Operating Systems

Wirefly Mobile Backup supports all of the most popular smartphones in the United States, including Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile, and works across all major U.S. carriers, making it incredibly easy to transfer data to a new device when switching wireless providers. In addition, the Palm, Java, Windows Phone 7 and Symbian operating systems will be supported by the end of the quarter.

Wirefly Mobile Backup can also be used to protect the data from personal computers (PC). Up to five devices including one PC can be backed up on a single free account making it easy to protect, move and share photos, music and other important information between devices.

“People come to when they are thinking about changing phones or changing carriers,” said Scott Ableman, Chief Marketing Officer for Wirefly. “By offering this great service for free, Wirefly has eliminated one of the major concerns people face when making this decision.”

Cell phone users can sign up for their free Wirefly Mobile Backup account at or via the Android Market and iTunes App Store.

This new capability will further support "user choice" flexibility in their mobile end point devices for both business and personal use. Enterprise IT will still have to focus on controlling information access security and managing customized mobile software application clients.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

ININ Pushes CaaS For Customer Contacts

Copyright 2010 -The Unified-View. All rights reserved worldwide

October 24, 2010

Why Interactive Intelligence’s CaaS offering For Contact Centers Can Be A UC Winner

By Art Rosenberg

By now, you must have read some of the very positive analyst comments on Interactive Intelligence’s (ININ) Partner and Analyst conference in San Antonio, TX on October 11-13th. What was most impressive to attendees is how well-structured ININ’s contact center software applications were to cover both traditional call center and future multi-modal UC business communication needs.

What caught my attention, however, was the successful push that ININ was making in the hosted services market, they refer to as CaaS or Communications as a Service.

ININ Offers Contact Center Implementation Flexibility

The idea is now new, but ININ has taken the lead in making CaaS offerings more flexible in order to overcome the concerns of organizations that don’t know enough (yet) about whether they want to end up with a hosted contact center service or take some or all responsibility for support internally.

Given that customer interaction applications are moving into the new UC domain of “multimodal communications,” there is little internal experience available to make such a decision yet. So, the obvious approach is to “try before buy” with minimum cost and maximum flexibility.

What ININ has cleverly come up with is a VoIP integration option to start with a hosted service, but allows subsequent switching to other support alternatives based on actual experience with the specific UC applications involved.

Not surprisingly, ININ reports tremendous interest in their CaaS offering for contact center applications, particularly since they have gone out of their way to allow business organizations to retain local control over their telephony communications activities (CaaS with Local Control). This makes their offering practical for both the SMB market, as well as for larger enterprises that have larger telephone system investments to protect.

In terms of other contact center UC application functions, those are still evolving slowly but steadily, but will benefit from ININ’s “”all in one” platform philosophy for cost efficient application integrations. ININ’s approach is being enthusiastically supported by their business partners and VARs, who are focused on helping customers tailor different business applications to support both inbound and outbound multimodal customer interactions, typically managed and supported by “CRM” applications.

I am waiting to see them support the UC needs of consumers who will be using mobile smartphones for all forms of customer interactions and information services!

What Do You Think?

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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mobile UC Action From "Multimodal Notifications"

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

September 26, 2010

UC and Multimodal Notifications

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

UC-based, mobile, multimodal communications will be changing how people both initiate and receive contacts from other people, as well as dire3ctly from automated business process applications. While person-to-person contacts will become intelligently based upon the status and preferences of the participating parties (”presence”), the contact initiator will typically be in the driver’s seat at first. Then, based on dynamic real world considerations, the mode of communication used become based on what works for both the initiator and the individual recipient(s). Because UC also encompasses human contacts with automated applications, the mode of interaction must be dictated by the human user, regardless of how contact was initiated, with one major exception.

While great progress has been made in speach recognition as a means of data input and user interface control, it has not made completely full voice conversation practical as a user interface for self-service applications. As recognized in a new book, “Advances In Speech Recognition: Mobile Environment, Call Centers and Clinics,” speech is effcient for user input, but not practical for large ammounts of content output which can most efficiently be reviewed on a screen. That is why I see tradtional telephone self service applications (IVR) being replaced with what I call Interactive Multimodal Response (IMR) applications on all forms of multimodal endpoint devices (smart-phones, iPads, tablets, etc.)

One of the key roles that mobility and UC flexibility can play is in supporting automated business processes that can initiate contacts with individual end users for time sensitive notifications. However, I see such applications doing more that sending notication information to a user. Instead, the applications will be able to initiate an interactive multimodal exchange with the recipient, but with the choice of input and output media resting with the human recipient.

Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) are going to heavily exploit such “multimodal notifications” because they can proactively initiate a self-service interaction without waiting for the recipient to take the initiative. Until now, telephony-based IVR was seen as the best way to handle self-services from consumer who, until lately, were not expected to have access to a real-time communication device other than a phone. With UC and mobile, multimodal devices, the future and value of self-services will expand significantly from online desktops and telephone IVR.

Multimodal notifications will also become another "gateway" for efficient customer care, since they will also provide the necessary context for efficient,“click-to-contact” live assistance, rather than a “blind” phone call.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Microsoft Wants To LYNC You!

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

September 10, 2010

What’s In A Name? Microsoft’s Lync Wants The End Users In Business UC

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

I was fortunate to participate in a discussion with my UC Strategies team and Microsoft about the big announcement of the next version of Office Communication Server. What was of most significance, is that Microsoft has renamed their software product (again), but, this time to one that will appeal to the individual end users, rather than to just IT management.

While UC technology infrastructure may be understandable and important to IT, the functionality of UC concepts is not so well understood by the people who should benefit most directly from using UC-based applications, the individual end users. As a result, the term “UC” means little to those potential end users, and, the integrations for UC, even less useful.

In a move to help remedy the problem of relating UC technology concepts to practical individual end user perspectives, Microsoft announced a name change for it’s latest version of its desktop Office Communications Server (OCS), which is a software platform for several real-time communication functions, including:

· Presence management (availability status information)

· Instant (text) messaging

· Conferencing

· Voice telephony

The new name, Lync, suggests not only a common process for accessing those real-time communication functions, it also implies interoperability with other forms of communication that are not “real-time.” So, as a user-oriented “gateway” to legacy telephony services, the name, “Lync,” suggests more than simple integration with traditional telephony contacts, but other multi-modal options for UC.

Microsoft Wants To “Lync” you!

To reinforce that user perspective, Microsoft suggests that “lync” can be used as a verb to better encompass what the end user can do with that particular application software tool, i.e., establish a real-time connection, in a user’s choice of ways, with a person or group of persons, if available. This flexibility will be particularly useful as users start exploiting mobile, multi-modal devices (smart-phones, iPads) and desktop “softphones.”

At this time, the Lync functionality defined for UC seems to be focused primarily on person-to-person contacts, where federated presence will be a consideration in initiating a real-time contact. However, as I have frequently stated, UC is more than that person-to-person communications, and contacts between people and automated application processes and vice versa are also part of the business communication challenge that requires the flexibility of multi-modal UC.

So, we should expect to soon see how Lync will be inter-operating with automated applications that need to initiate multi-modal “notifications” to specific individual users (CEBP), as well as how those recipients can respond to such automated, contacts. This will be of particular importance in customer-care applications that will exploit automated, time-critical, pro-active contacts for cost-efficient performance.

For now, we see Lync as a logical step forward, from an end use’s perspective, towards convenient communication flexibility and the “user’s choice” in both initiating a person-to-person contact, as well as responding to any contact from another person.

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

Thursday, July 08, 2010

UC Analytics

Copyright Ó2010 -The Unified-View. All rights reserved worldwide

June 7, 2010

The Coming Importance of UC Analytics in Multi-modal Business Operations

Art Rosenberg, The Unified View

The technology convergence of all forms of business communications between people has been labeled as “unified communications” or “UC.” What it really means is that individual end-users in a business environment can now choose any form of communication to either initiate a contact with another person or group of persons, or to receive and respond to such a contact in any modality (real-time, asynchronous messaging) or medium (voice, text, visual) that is available to them.

This flexibility is defined as “multi-modal” communications, and includes “trans-modal” communications capabilities, where individual users can dynamically change from their current form of communication to another modality more suitable to their immediate situation.

More flexible communication is largely being driven by the increase in mobile communications, which requires individual users to communicate under real-time limitations of their changing personal environments. Can they talk? Can they listen? Can they look at a screen? Can they push buttons for input? Rather than wait until they can communicate in any particular way, UC enables communication tasks to be done selectively and immediately in one form or another, thus reducing the inherent latency in business communications due simply to a lack of a specific network access connection or device interface.

UC not only provides general flexibility in traditional person-to-person contacts, but, when coupled with the growing use of multi-modal mobile endpoint devices (smart-phones, iPads), also enables greater end-user access to (inbound) and from (outbound) automated self-service applications. This shift not only reduces labor costs involved with a business process through direct online access to information and proactive process-to-person “notifications” and information delivery, but also provides overall efficiencies through automated, contextual, person-to-person contacts with others involved in the business process.

With real-time federated presence information and “click-to-connect” capabilities, UC brings the communication efficiencies long found only in customer-facing contact centers to all segments of enterprise business activities, including back-office operations, branch office activities, field support, teleworkers, subject matter experts, outsourced staffing, and efficient contacts with business partner organizations involved in a common business process.

The big question now is what responsibilities does the enterprise have for evaluating and managing such expanded UC-based activities and what tools are available for doing that?

Managing Multi-modal Communications

Enterprise organizations have always had difficulty in fully understanding and separately managing different forms of location-based, business communications activity, ranging from messaging to real-time telephone calls and conferencing. UC technologies enabling greater flexibility in crossing the silo boundaries of communication applications for different types of users will only increase the complexity of communication access and activity management.

Managing various shared communication resources across different modalities of communications is something new that enterprise organizations will have to learn and understand. In particular, the sensitive area of customer contacts and interactions will be a key target for new management reporting tools (“UC Analytics”), just as it was for traditional call center telephone activities.

The detailed analytical data generated by UC activities will be applicable to a number of enterprise management responsibilities, including:

· Operational UC requirements planning - Technology infrastructure, traffic capacity, support staffing, applications design, device interfaces. This will be an ongoing challenge.

· Alternative UC implementation strategies and operational cost implications

· Traffic activity management and support – User activity, network capacities, user devices

· Operational business performance analysis - Reporting the “What” and “Who” of business processes – what people and automated applications involved in communication activities associated with key business processes actually do and how efficiently

· The “Why” of business communication activity – Capturing and analyzing key information and communication content within business processes (person-to-person contacts/process-to-person notifications/person-to-process self-services) in order to understand what is causing the communication activity

Person-to-person contacts
– Basic communication between individual end users, whether internal to the organization, customer-facing, or with business partners. This will provide insights into the communication efficiencies within business process workflows.

· Speech analytics - Harnessing the voice of the customer in voice calls and messages to gain valuable insight on everything from products and processes to competitors and market opportunities

· Data analytics - Mine data associated with voice calls such as contact metrics, productivity metrics, sources of contact/response delays, etc. to uncover scenarios positively or negatively impacting process performance

· Process and desktop analytics - How desktop activity and application usage as part of person-to-person communications is contributing to or impacting task performance and business process effectiveness

· Messaging analytics - Text, speech, asynchronous, real-time notifications/delivery, access to and from real-time connections (“trans-modal communications”), etc. This also covers all “unified messaging” functions available under the “UC” umbrella, where messages (text, voice) can be dynamically converted across media, depending on the needs of the recipient not just the sender of the message.

· “Trans-modal” communication activities

· Effective use of Presence Management information for real-time contacts

· Security and privacy issues

Process-to-person contacts
– Contacts between an automated business process application and specific individual users. Such users may be customer-facing staff (contact center personnel), business partners involved in a shared task, or specific customers involved in a business process.

All such users can be contacted automatically and directly by self-service applications or can initiate contacts, with a choice of modalities, to enterprise personnel through such online applications. Generally referred to as Communication Enabled Business Processes (CEBP), such applications efficiently exploit the flexibility of UC to connect people with both self-service automated applications and/or with specific other people involved in a common business process.

UC flexibility offers the following capabilities to end-users:

· Outbound text-based “notification messages” generated by a business process application can be delivered via a choice of communication applications (Email, SMS, social network postings, etc.). Depending on the recipient’s presence status or preference, unified messaging options can convert such text-based notifications to voice messages.

· Responses from the recipient can be flexibly generated to a self-service automated application and/or selectively to appropriate qualified and available personnel in a choice of media and modalities (“Click-to-Contact”).

Business Process Analytics
– UC Analytic tools can identify and evaluate all such communication activity for analysis of who, how, where, when, and why a business process has been affected by different people in the process.

· Trans-modal interfaces for time-sensitive notifications

· Proactive user contacts vs. on-demand access to applications and information

· Responsiveness of people to all forms of contact and automated notifications, which will be indicative of “accessibility” and/or “availability” and time priorities

· Such information can be used to locate and audit patterns of people-based communication delay and error in business process performance.

New model for UC activity data collection

The ability to capture and track all forms of contact activity and associated information content from personalized, user-owned, mobile, multi-modal devices (“smartphones,” iPods) is a new challenge for enterprise and IT management. This capability will require all business-related activity data from different communication applications to be collected, centralized, and consolidated for analysis and reporting.

“Business communications” will no longer be based on a specific communication device or the modality of contact, but will be focused on the identity of the contact initiator and the business relationship with the recipient. This now covers everyone who will be involved with a business process regardless if they interact with people or automated business applications. With this perspective, “UC Analytics” will be able to identify the “who,” “where,” when,” and “why” of business process performance issues.

Who should be responsible for UC Analytics?

Since UC Analytics will cover a broad range of communication activities, the responsibilities for using such analytics will vary across different operational management groups and by type of business organization. It has been reported that best results will come from using an objective business analysis group that understands the value of various performance metrics and can track those metrics to their sources.

Other aspects of UC Analytics, such as “Who” is initiating or responding to various forms of business process contacts, can be the responsibility of specific operational groups directly involved with the management of the processes in question. Contact center management of dedicated customer-facing agents and individual subject matter experts, as well as self-service applications, would be key targets for UC Analytics, as would customer relationship management (CRM) and back-office/branch oversight.

IT involvement will be useful primarily when it comes to ensuring that pertinent activity data is collected wherever it is generated and then consolidated for analyses. They will also be involved in determining the need for integration between data systems, the cost of implementation and support, and the choice of new technologies and their providers. However, line of business management must take responsibility for how the data will be used in properly evaluating operational business performance.

What’s available today? Verint takes the lead in UC Analytics

The nature of UC Analytics, which includes the performance of people involved in a business process, comes closest to traditional call center operational management tools. In fact, UC technologies can generate the greatest ROI when applied to customer services, facilitating both operational cost reduction and the generation of faster revenues from customers. This makes customer contact interactions a practical candidate for realizing maximum ROI from UC applications. However, the integration of all forms of customer communications for analytics is still evolving, e.g., social networking.

One of the leading providers of traditional call center workforce optimization technologies, Verint Systems has already started the migration of its comprehensive call center analytical tools to work in a “Customer UC” environment. This will include all forms of live assistance and automated self-service applications, not just traditional telephony and voice interactions.

Verint’s analytics-driven Impact 360 Workforce Optimization suite captures a variety of information on workflow and workforce performance, including interactions with individual customers and online business process applications. By capturing customer interaction content, especially in person-to-person voice calls where important information is usually lost in the workflow process, Verint’s speech, data, customer feedback, and desktop and process analytics applications can reveal the “Why” of enterprise communications and how well, or not so well, a specific operational activity is taking place.

As pointed out by Blair Pleasant in her article, Verint has adapted its technology expertise in call center analytics for workforce performance management to provide a practical basis for UC interactions with all types of end users involved in a business process, not just call center agents and customers. This will include all enterprise staff regardless of location (back-office operations, branch office locations), as well as external staff from supply chain, field support and business partners, outsourced agent staffing, etc.

Highlighting the adaptation of these technologies that have been driving customer service people and process efficiency and effectiveness in call center environments for years, are the recent successes some organizations have had in leveraging the analytic tools to drive even wider enterprise results and process optimization. This coincides with the realization that the customer service value chain extends well beyond the call center and addressing UC interactions more broadly and holistically across the business is vital to achieving customer centricity.

For example, a Fortune 500 insurance company faced an array of challenges within its back-office life account services group, ranging from lengthy and inconsistent turnaround time to excessive overtime and considerable rework. Implementing an array of back-office solutions from Verint’s Impact 360 suite, including forecasting and scheduling, workforce management, strategic planning, performance management, and desktop and process analytics, the insurer reduced turnaround time from nine days to just six, with bill processing nearing a four-day turnaround.

Similarly, despite a significant increase in staffing, the wholesale lockbox department of a financial services firm had not experienced a commensurate increase in productivity. Partnering with Verint to determine the source of the disparity, the firm was able to identify process improvement opportunities, develop a high-level capacity plan, and create schedules that best utilized available staff skill sets. As a result, throughput increased by 11 percent, operating margins increased by 38 percent, and headcount decreased by six percent, saving the firm over $600,000 a year.

These are examples of the potential value and reach of UC Analytics. By providing insight into day-by-day or even hour-by hour incoming activity, actual throughput, and employee productivity in virtually every area of the business, key organizational stakeholders can make rapid, fact-based decisions to increase efficiency, manage time more effectively, identify flawed or inefficient processes, train staff, match staff scheduling to actual demand, and achieve service level agreements with lower costs, backlog, and overtime.


UC Analytics is still in its formative stages especially when it comes to including all key UC customer interaction data. As pointed out in Blair’s article, there are some new UC-oriented analytics that are expected beyond Verint’s current offering, including all forms of device-independent UC contact, mobile interactions, as well as all inbound and outbound self-service applications (online, IVR, IVVR), and social networking activity.

With the increase in new communication activities, there will be new sources of data for UC Analytics in the enterprise. Verint’s “open” software solution to UC Analytics can offer practical benefits to an enterprise in many areas of business operations. Its current offering provides a logical and solid first-step towards a flexible, future-proof toolset for enterprise UC activity management reporting.

What Do You Think?

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

Monday, June 07, 2010

Latest Contact Center Trends and UC

June 7, 2010

Latest Contact Center Trends Point to “Mobile UC” Flexibility For Consumers

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

As telephony evolves from legacy TDM silos to mobile, IP-based connectivity and multimodal UC interfaces, the contact center world is trying to stay on top of the changes these are bringing to traditional customer interactions. As I have frequently pointed out, “Customer UC” will be a big source of enterprise ROI because it not only helps reduce costs, but also increases customer satisfaction and revenue generation.

However, that increase will be maximized most cost-effectively when consumers exploit the flexibility and efficiencies of mobile, multimodal communication devices like the new generation of “smartphones.” Market figures already show that such smartphones are rapidly being adopted by individual end users of all types as primary endpoints for more personalized and flexible contacts.

Leading analyst firms are now starting to project key contact center market changes that new communication technologies will bring by surveying customer organization perspectives about their technology migration plans from legacy TDM telephony that has dominated contact center activities in the past. The results of a recent market study by Frost & Sullivan was promoted by Interactive Intelligence at their Global User Forum last month to show the new directions that contact centers will be taking. The study “highlights” confirm that customer contact centers will be exploiting the benefits of UC to achieve individual “customer satisfaction,” as well as new, more flexible and cost-effective technology implementations through hosted network services.

Highlights of Frost & Sullivan North American Customer Survey

· Customer satisfaction back as a top priority
A full 50 percent of respondents were profiled as “customer-oriented,” with 35 percent profiled as seeking the “latest and greatest” applications, and the remaining 15 percent profiled as “cost-focused.”

· Growth of hosted services; increasing adoption by large contact centers
– The fastest growing segment for hosted contact center adoption were respondents representing contact centers with more than 500 seats (from 35 percent in 2009, to 47 percent in 2010); among all size segments, a total of 30 percent indicated they would use hosted services in 2010, up from 24 percent in 2009.

· Rapid growth of social media customer interactions– Of respondents surveyed, 30 percent indicated they support social media customer activity and interactions on external social media sites (facebook, twitter, etc.), and 29 percent indicated they monitor and extract intelligence from this activity; of social media benefits, the top three cited were to “provide better customer service,” (75 percent), “drive sales,” (58 percent), and “drive customer loyalty” (54 percent).

· Growth of Web collaboration, text and video –
Of supported inbound interaction channels, growth from 2009 to 2010 was highest for text/SMS (25 percent increase), video (15 percent increase), and Web-based interactions (8 percent increase).

· Consistent customer experience across channels continues to be a high priority across industries –
The largest majority of respondents – 67 percent – rated ensuring consistent service across channels as a “very high priority” or “high priority.”

· Significant increase in proactive customer contact activity across industries – Of three types of outbound customer programs, the majority -- 65 percent -- indicated they would increase their “proactive, value-add customer contact” programs over the next two years; 43 percent said they would increase their “sales and marketing” programs, and 42 percent said they would increase their “collections” programs.

Why Multimodal Mobility Is Key To Efficient UC Customer Contacts

As I have frequently pointed out, UC flexibility is designed to support end user needs as either contact initiators or as contact recipients/respondents (Inbound/Outbound contacts). To maximize customer contact accessibility, an individual end user must be able to either initiate or respond to a business notification anywhere, anytime and in any modality.

Mobile access, coupled with UC interface options, offers just such flexibility and control for efficient communication contact with individual customers. Without mobility and UC, customers are stuck with the old limitations of location-based communications and no alternatives for selectively communicating under different environmental circumstances.

With traditional cell phones, mobility was provided, but only for a voice-based connection. Mobile users in particular are often limited in using voice, not only because of their “availability” to talk, but also because of privacy and ambient noise issues. Furthermore, when customers are contacted by an automated business process application, voice conversations are not as appropriate or efficient as a visual interchange (text, graphics).

While speech is efficient for simple user inputs, it is less so for information output. This is particularly important for the expected increase in proactive customer contact activity confirmed by the Frost and Sullivan study. Accordingly, UC flexibility is particularly strategic to mobile, self-service business applications, that can also be initiated by automated business process applications, better known as CEBP (Communications Enabled Business Processes).

What Do You Think?

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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making UC Universally Interoperable

Copyright © 2010 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

May 18, 2010

UCIF to Do More Than Come Up With UC Infrastructure Standards

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Citing the need to fully leverage customers’ investments in communications systems and unite their global organizations, five global technology companies today joined to form the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF), an alliance dedicated to enabling standards-based, inter-vendor unified communications (UC) interoperability. HP, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, Logitech / LifeSize, and Polycom, seek to unify the vibrant but fragmented UC ecosystem through this shared mission.

Unified Communications (UC) is complex because it represents a variety of different ways to make timely contact and communicate with people. Although, UC functionality is very software based, the multiplicity of UC-related technologies can’t all be provided by a single software developer. From an interoperability perspective, the number of technology standards needed to cover all the flexibility that UC interactions require are too many and too complex to define or implement easily.

Payoff of Interoperability

Obviously, both the technology definitions and concept perspectives of UC are important, but what is most critical is enabling all kinds of end users to benefit from having communication flexibility and efficiencies in their choice of contact and user interfaces. That flexibility of choice is now becoming increasingly critical because it is becoming the multimodal gateway to personal and efficient personal accessibility, due to the rapid adoption of mobile “smartphones.”

This choice will soon be universally available to all kinds of users, whether a “user” is initiating a new contact or responding as a recipient of a contact initiated by someone else, including a “proactive,” automated business application process (CEBP). It also should make little difference as to who the end user is – enterprise staff, business partner, or consumer/customer.

In fact, we see one of the biggest payoffs of UC will be the ability for individual users to exploit the use of mobile smartphones to be more accessible and interact directly on a personalized basis with any automated business process application. For all of this flexibility to be realized, on an end-to-end basis from any endpoint device with UC multimodal flexibility, there has to be universal interoperability across all UC infrastructure components that may be involved. The problem is that there are not enough infrastructure standards (yet) to cover the interoperability complexities of UC usage.

Benefits For UC Growth

Up till now, it has not only been difficult to describe what “UC” really means, but also, when it came time to plan an implementation of UC, there were no standards that could be used for selecting UC technology components and services. The various communication applications like IM, social networking, UM, and CEBP applications, were not really organized to be easily implemented and integrated wherever desired on an application design or end user basis. As a result, the promises of UC providing benefits to individual users (UC-U) or to business application processes (UC-B) were “blowing in the wind!”

With an “open,” cooperative group of leading industry providers and objective industry experts taking charge of organizing all the elements of UC, things like:

· Terminology and definitions
· Identifying interoperability needs and priorities for both real-time and asynchronous testing and certification
· Establishing easy to use interoperability testing and certification procedures
· Structuring the UC framework so that there will be a clear and objective differentiation of functional roles for UC-based applications
· Coordinating UC standards with standards of other communication applications
· Establishing appropriate metrics for evaluating various levels of benefits from implementing UC capabilities in different ways
· Support a common UC ecosystem that will subsume and not conflict with other standards-based technologies
· Etc.
can now become better structured for practical implementation planning for the technology providers, the market, the individual end users, the service providers, and the enterprise IT support staff.

We can expect the UCIF to help break the gridlock that currently exists between the communication technologies of the future and existing technologies that still work. This will benefit all individual end users and the applications they use, as well as business organizations of any size that must support specific application needs for those end users.

Opening The Doors to Mobile UC Services

It is well recognized that UC flexibility has its greatest payoffs to end users who are mobile and will be using a variety of multimodal “smart-phones.” In addition to helping to define all the necessary standards that the full spectrum of UC functionality will require, the UCIF can also provide an operational framework that will facilitate ongoing interoperability testing and certification of any UC software technology product or service.

This UCIF facility will be very useful to help drive and support new hosted and “cloud-based” UC applications, as well as to help expand “open” interoperability between Mobile UC services. The latter is particularly strategic, since the wireless carriers still seem to be trying to lock in dominance over their customer endpoint devices and associated mobile applications. Wireless mobility at the individual end user level must be a basic modality option for the UC framework.

Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF) Formation Announced

In response to the critical need to make all UC applications more “open,” across the UC network infrastructure framework, and to satisfy a consistent UC “experience” for all individual end users, the formation of a new, “open alliance” of technology leaders involved with developing various UC technologies and services, was announced today. Named the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF), the group is open to membership by any organization that is developing UC technologies and is interested in supporting interoperability with other UC technologies.

Jim Burton, of, noted that:
“Even though vendors work hard to follow standards, standards are open to interpretation and it creates interoperability problems. The UCIF will help solve those problems by providing a venue for testing and working with other companies to ensure that products are interoperable before they’re delivered to a customer.”

“By working together, the UCIF will help make the UC market grow sooner than it would otherwise, with each vendor now able to get their share of a larger pie.”

The founding members have been joined by a growing roster of member companies including Acme Packet, Aspect, AudioCodes, Broadcom, BroadSoft, Brocade, ClearOne, Jabra, Plantronics, RADVISION, Siemens Enterprise Communications, and Teliris. It is still early in the game, so many of the important UC players have not yet publicized their intentions, but it is clear that for the UC market to move forward, ALL the serious players will have to participate and cooperate in this common goal.

For more details on UCIF membership participation, you can get more information and objective insights by UC Strategies experts at

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Here Come the UC Solution Integrators

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

April 20, 2010

Helping “UC Solution Integrators” Succeed In The Marketplace Beyond IP Telephony

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View


Unified Communications (UC) is a term that is displacing “business communica-tions” because it is a concept and technology approach that integrates user inter-faces to support all forms of real-time and asynchronous contact and interaction with people involved in a business process. It is slowly replacing stand-alone business telephony technologies, integrating voice and text-based information. UC is particularly important in mobile environments, where the end user inter-faces, both for initiating or receiving a contact, must work flexibly and efficiently within the context of a business process, for each individual user’s needs at the moment.

As a result, the trend towards implementation of UC capabilities is opening new opportunities for traditional technology sales and support channels to assist business organizations in planning and implementing their individual migration from legacy telephone communications to integrated UC capabilities.

The key to success in this convergence will be strategic business partnerships with leading infrastructure technology providers and developers, established communications software and service providers, as well as application designers and implementation specialists that can work together to support all aspects of an integrated UC operational environment. UCStrategies calls such UC Business Partners “Solution Integrators.”

One major communication software provider, IBM, describes its UC strategy as being based on four pillars: an open end extensible platform capable of integrating with most leading collaboration and telephony products, technical expertise, industry knowledge and experience and, last but not least, a healthy ecosystem of business partners. IBM relies on business partners or Solution Integrators to build UC solutions on top of its UC platform and to provide the integrated functionality customers require. And, because IBM Sametime software integrates out of the box with many Microsoft productivity applications, solutions integrators of a wide variety of backgrounds can find new opportunities. IBM provides those partners with access to the technical expertise and integration tools they need to succeed, providing the added UC integration expertise that is lacking in most internal IT organizations, while giving business partners a key role in one of IBM's newest segments of its software business.

In order to recognize the enterprise business sweet spots for UC, it is important for every UC Business Partner or Solution Integrator to fully understand all operational perspectives and priorities for the different benefits that UC will bring to a business organization. This includes individual end user needs for communications and interactions with people both inside and outside the organization. Any UC solutions implemented for today’s modes of communication must also be ”future proofed’” for tomorrow’s communications.

Telephony Integrations – one of the key starting points for UC

Today’s enterprise UC migrations typically start with enabling more efficient and effective ways to initiate real-time phone contacts with other people, both inside or outside of any size organization. This may be done “contextually” from “click-to-call” information, coupled with availability information (presence), in a personal contact directory, provided through messaging contacts (email, IM, voice mail, SMS, etc.), or for selective access to live assistance within automated, self-service business process applications (Web, IVR applications).

Cost efficient, SIP-based IP Telephony that can integrate easily with other UC communication applications, is slowly but surely replacing legacy TDM PBX telephone systems. A big obstacle in migrating any organization to a UC environment is the challenge of ripping and replacing the many existing and expensive telephone systems that still function effectively for person-to-person voice conversations. Integrating existing telephony investments with business process applications and other UC communication applications software (email, voice mail, conferencing, IM, telephony presence, SMS, social networking, and mobile, etc.) has become a short-term target for UC payoffs.

IBM has made a concerted effort to bring its Business Partners on board to help integrate their customers into a UC services environment. There is a range of services business partners can provide. The greatest customer value – and the greatest revenue opportunity for business partners resides in - first, improving business processes with horizontal unified communications services and, ultimately, UC-enabling specific business processes in vertical industry application scenarios.

What’s The Opportunity For UC Business Partners?

The evolving UC capabilities and technologies provide new opportunities and challenges to enterprises. Because most enterprise IT organizations typically have neither the evolving knowledge and experience for integrating converging legacy telephony with other UC technologies, they need lots of hands-on help to even start moving forward with migrations to real UC solutions. In addition to the challenge of integrating and interoperating with legacy telephony systems, most UC solutions will include:

• All forms of messaging and multimodal endpoints (“unified messaging”)

• All forms of voice and video conferencing

• Integrations with business process applications (CEBP)

Business organizations, large or small, will need hands-on support for planning, configuring, installing, integrating, and UC-enabling all the hardware and software pieces in the UC solution picture. This can’t happen overnight because UC technology elements are still evolving and slowing the migration from legacy telephony silos. There are a variety of ongoing issues that enterprises need help with from Solution Integrators due to the nature of UC solutions:

• Existing communication technology investments still work and need to be included when appropriate in the day-to-day operations.

• UC is not a not a single product, but rather a set of interoperable communication capabilities that may be distributed differently among a variety of commu-nication facilities.

• Implementation priorities will vary from organization to organization, especially in terms of business process functionalities and priorities, then may change as business activities change.

• End users, from both inside and outside of an organization, will need some training in the effective use of basics of UC communication functions, as well as in specific business process applications that are customized for specific UC situations and end user situations.

• New mobile endpoint devices and interface designs will play a large role for enterprise application implementations.

• Communication technologies will need many, selective technology integrations with business applications.

• Such integrations will require strong partnerships and implementation planning/coordination.
These are all areas that UC solution providers must take responsibility for dealing with in helping customers implement UC applications. The question then becomes how will UC Solution Integrators gain that expertise?

What IBM Has To Offer UC Business Partners

The voice or telephony industry is changing drastically. In looking for a strategic partner, UC Solution Integrators or Business Partners have to start thinking about the end results that their customers are really looking for long term, which may require skills that the Solution Integrator doesn’t currently have now. Solution Integrators in the UC arena, particularly those who specialize in voice communications, need to partner with leading providers of integration technology that provide robust and flexible integration platforms to help customers extract more value from what they already have and to give Solution Integrators the technological springboard to help those customers evolve new UC applications when they're ready.

Because of its heavy experience with standards-based, open software, along with its strong role in developing messaging and application software, IBM is well positioned to assist its business partners move into the various areas of UC, especially in the business process perspective of UC activities.

IBM provides the necessary platforms and tools to enable Business Partners to easily develop and integrate customized, but flexible, business process UC applications. In addition to its UC platform offerings, notably Sametime and Sametime Unified Telephony, IBM provides a range of tools for its Business Partners, includ-ing:

• Comprehensive Integration Software Tools – Toolsets for designing and im-plementing customized, applications with voice and visual interfaces for both desktop and mobile endpoint devices.

• UC Experience and Training – Experience is what UC Business Partners re-quire in order to help their customers move forward with practical UC imple-mentations, and IBM is clearly experienced in using its own technologies inter-nally. IBM also provides opportunities for partnering with other IP telephony Business Partners and specialists in order to provide comprehensive UC com-ponent solutions. In addition, IBM offers integration training, market training, and end user UC interface training.

Practical Steps to become a UC Solutions Integrator/Business Partner:

UC is not a single product or application and evolves from the support and partici-pation of different application specialist skills. UC will become an ongoing source of business from existing customers as UC software technology continually changes to match specific evolving customer needs. The following are steps that are recommended for potential UC Solutions Integrators:

1. Identify your current “expertise” within the technologies of UC, e.g., business process analysis, applications (telephony, IVR, contact center, etc.), IP telephony integration, business process integration, mobility;

2. Identify customer UC needs and associated skill requirements;

3. Learn additional UC skills required by your customers, or

4. Partner with others who already qualify in those other skills; and

5. Develop your additional skills as needed, leveraging the UC resources avail-able at, or from specific vendors. For example, IBM’s Partnerworld is an excellent place for IBM partners to help grow their businesses.

As the UC industry changes, so too do the skills for Solution Integrators and Business Partners. Working with vendor companies that provide these partners with the tools they need to succeed is crucial. As a sponsor of UCStrategies’ UC Summit, IBM is investing in helping its partners prosper.

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

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Copyright © 2010 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

April 14, 2010

UC Is More Than “Person-to-Person” Contacts – Think “Proactive Self-service Applications!”

By Art Rosenberg

The telephone brought the power of real-time voice connections to people in distributed business operations, but with today’s UC capabilities, voice is just one of the options for both real-time and non-real-time contacts for both business and social contacts.

Conversational voice phone calls, however, also maintained the need for live assistance to be involved with exchanging information and manually completing business real-time transactions. Although self-service applications could be implemented using a Touch-tone telephone keypad and speech output, the voice user interface, as well as any information, had to be kept very simple. In the growing Internet world of self-service online information access, speech can only be used for simple outputs. More complex or voluminous data still need the efficiencies of stored text and visual graphics.

In order to fully exploit the power of automation self-services to a business process, the business process itself must be able to initiate real-time contacts with people, rather than simply wait for a person (customer, partner) to make the first move. The flexibility of mobile devices, coupled with UC’s “click-to-call” and unified messaging capabilities, will enable time-sensitive automated applications to proactively initiate timely business contacts (notifications) and associated self-service applications, with people, without the necessity and expense of live assistance required by voice interfaces alone.

CEBP and “Click-to-Contact” Assistance

UC’s presence-based “click-to-call” options can provide access to voice or visual conversational live assistance “on demand” in any automated application, regardless of how the application was initiated. This makes such applications more useful to a greater variety of application processes and the various end users of those applications. More importantly, UC facilities, integrated with Communications Enabled Business Process applications (CEBP), can significantly expand opportunities to automate business processes involving customers and customer-facing staff. This will reduce operational costs, improve operational performance, and speed up revenue generation.

The real benefit and the potential for true competitive advantages resides in striking the right balance between the pieces of a business process that can—and should—be automated whenever possible, and those where human judgment and intervention, on demand, can guarantee the best outcome.

This will be particularly valuable for automating more accessible and flexible self-service business processes with mobile and personalized, handheld smartphone devices. Integrating them with CEBP and UC options, rather than keeping them limited by the inefficiencies of inbound voice calls and traditional Telephone User Interfaces (TUI) of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) applications for information output, will expand the role of self-services and minimize the need and costs for live voice assistance.

This is the “hot spot” where data technology providers like IBM and Microsoft will be exploiting UC integrations with voice connections.

What Do You Think?

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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Congratulations, VoiceCon!

Copyright 2010 (C) Unified-View, All Rights Reserved.

Finally – VoiceCon Changes It’s Name!

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Ever since the “UC” concept started to gain traction in business communications, I had been bugging Fred Knight to let go of the emphasis on voice telephony reflected in the name of their very successful “VoiceCon” conference. I also was suggesting that enterprise text messaging technology providers like Microsoft and IBM bring their customers to this show to start delivering a common technology message of convergence, flexibility, and UC interoperability to the market place.

Well, today, on the 20th anniversary of VoiceCon, they announced a name change at the show to “Enterprise Connect.” To learn more, go to

This simple name change will help open business communication doors wider to include more than a flexible choice of person-to-person voice/video or messaging connections, but to also include “application process-to-person” and “person-to-application process” contacts that exploit the efficiencies of automated (self-service) business processes across all forms of communication interfaces.

Maybe we will see the next name change take us from the real-time traffic-centric label of VoiceCon’s popular blog site, “No Jitter,” to something more pertinent to the UC vision of flexible, interoperable, multimodal user interfaces.

Congratulations on the name change!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

IP Telephony Dependent on UC, Mobility, and CEBP Apps

Copyright 2010 (C) Unified-View, All Rights Reserved.

UC, Mobility, and CEBP Integrations Driving IP Telephony Implementations
Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

The industry press has been filled with recent reports about Nortel customers being faced with the challenge of having their legacy Nortel phone systems converted to future Avaya systems. Avaya appears to have done a good job of taking on the responsibilities of an incumbent telephony provider by quickly laying out a PBX migration plan for them to do so cost effectively.

However, what Nortel customers are really facing reflects what all enterprise organizations are dealing with today. That is, the new role of “intelligent,” software-based IP Telephony as a foundational component of mobile, multimodal unified communications (UC) that integrate with enterprise applications to “optimize business process performance” and effectiveness.

The question that Nortel and other customers really must answer is this: Can your incumbent telephone system provider help deliver new, UC-based IP Telephony “applications” that will be used by your next generation staff, customers and business partners? Furthermore, is your communications infrastructure flexible enough to adapt and integrate with your industry’s standard business applications now and in the future?

Partnering IP Telephony with Mobile Web Services and Online Applications

To meet these ever-evolving demands by the next-generation end user, Web services and online applications have since jumped in to improve visual interactive application access at the PC desktop. However, until the advent of handheld broadband smartphones, such efficient solutions have not been conveniently available for use when users are mobile and away from a desktop PC. Needless to say, consumers were thus left out in the cold until now for improved and more efficient automated customer care based upon visual self-service application interfaces!

UC is not just a matter of making the costs of telephony cheaper, but also of making voice communications selectively more effective and complementary to other forms of visual and text-based communications and information access. This is where new UC capabilities like presence management, coupled with “click-to-call” capabilities, will make voice and video conversations and conferencing efficient supplements to the many forms of real-time text messaging (IM, SMS) and information exchange that are now available to consumers.

The new responsibilities for business communications and operational interactions must include the different business process application needs of end users from both inside and outside of the organization (business partners and customers). So, the real challenge for both large and small businesses is how to exploit all the pieces of UC, including IP Telephony applications, cost efficiently.

Mobility Will Become a Big Influencer For CEBP Integration

Mobile accessibility is not only a big factor for enabling UC flexibility for traditional person-to-person contacts via voice or text, but it will also facilitate application process-to-person and person-to-application process contacts that can exploit real-time, multi-media exchanges between people and information from automated self-service applications. In addition to being able to make immediate contact with mobile users, and, depending upon the person’s situation and information content, the choice of visual or voice application interface can also be dynamically determined by the individual users.

Automated business process applications that can effectively initiate any kind of direct communication contact with a person can efficiently replace the expense and delays that result from requiring humans to perform such contact tasks via phone calls. Such capability has been labeled as a “Communication Enabled Business Process” or CEBP and is of particular value where time-sensitive situations have to be dealt with immediately. It is useful to quickly and automatically notify people of an urgent problem or as a reminder to take action to avoid problems, and get immediate confirmation feedback as well, e.g., reminders for taking medications, an appointment, flight change notifications, etc.

Mobile, multimodal smartphones will now enable customer care contacts to be more automated, while still allowing flexible, on-demand customer access (“click-to-call”) to live assistance (voice, chat), whenever necessary. Again, ”contextual” access to available live assistance can be efficiently provided on-demand, based on the dynamic needs of the customer and qualified resource availability.

“Different Strokes for Different Folks?” Software-based Architecture for Mobile UC Flexibility!

End users, whether enterprise employees or consumers will no longer be satisfied with the limitations of the legacy telephone user interface, and will start exploiting the benefits of UC flexibility and integrated visual and voice user interfaces. Now that consumers have had a taste of multimodal mobility with innovative smartphones, they are starting to expect freedom of choice in how they initiate and receive contacts from both people and business process applications.

The key to extending communication flexibility and interoperability will rest with making communication applications functionally software-based, hardware independent, and with standards-based open interoperability. That requirement is particularly applicable for the increased use of new mobile smartphones that are already being used to communicate with all kinds of mobile applications under varying user circumstances.

Whether a user is initiating a contact or is the recipient accepting a contact, the choice of how a UC contact is made will depend upon each individual’s circumstantial situation.

· Sometimes contact is requested with a specific individual vs. anyone who is qualified, accessible, and available

· Sometimes the contact required is an immediate voice conversation

· Sometimes a user can’t talk (noisy, privacy)

· Sometimes they can’t hear (noisy)

· Sometimes they need to send information to be viewed in the context of a voice conversation

· Sometime a user can’t read or type (driving)

· Sometimes the response to an asynchronous message requires a voice conversation, real-time IM exchange, or a change in the message medium.

One Example of Telephony Providers Responding To UC Change

Leading telephony system providers recognize that the flexibility of communication interfaces is becoming critical, and they are converging their new IP Telephony offerings with other text-based communications. One example of this is NEC.

According to Jay Krauser, General Manager of Sales Support and Engineering, NEC Corporation of America:
“The users we are developing products for today may use texting more than voice and email combined. They’ve used any number of social networking and online collaborative tools for many years. They’re tech-savvy and mobile, and whatever business user interfaces we put in their hands need to fit a highly evolved work style.”

As an example, Krauser referenced a hospital setting where the software-based communications infrastructure integrates with patient data using the HL7 standard to give workers in any role - operator, administrator, nurse or doctor - access to the clinical, financial or other administrative data quickly and on-the-go. Automating notifications to mobile devices to advise clinical staff of a change in patient status ultimately speeds patients through diagnosis and treatment to where they’d rather be, which is home.

NEC put its IP Telephony technology where its mouth is when the company announced last month that its software-based Unified Communications platform, Sphericall, is fully integrated with IBM’s Lotus Foundations platform. When installed, it is literally a part of IBM’s software package and shares resources with IBM’s text messaging applications.

This is a step forward in integrating all the key communication applications of UC together as a single, interoperable product set. NEC’s other major partner, Microsoft, is also a candidate for such close-knit interoperability through its Exchange server for email and unified messaging and its OCS Office Communications Server for Instant Messaging, presence management, and unified conferencing.
Who Will You Trust To Provide New UC-based IP Telephony Applications?

It should be pretty obvious that UC functionality that includes more than traditional person-to-person voice contacts will require new, heavy-duty capabilities from the other technology providers involved. Those new technology offerings are still evolving, so reputation and direction must be part of your evaluation. Because the various UC technologies involved are generally developed by different suppliers, there will be different combinations of UC software applications available as alternative solutions.

1. UC will depend heavily on text-based interfaces for both messaging and application information, so the two big players in the business email and IM industry, Microsoft and IBM, will have to be part of the team that can offer customers a complete UC solution. Their offerings will be most important for UC integrations for presence management, unified messaging, CEBP, etc.

2. Well-established, experienced, IP Telephony providers who can offer both a new software-based platform along with integration capabilities to work with a variety of existing PBX and IPBX systems, will be a safe bet for implementing a new IP Telephony solution.

3. Traditional contact center capabilities will have to be accommodated with what I have labeled as “Customer UC” functions, which provides increased contact and interaction flexibility for customers who will exploit multimodal smartphones.

4. While legacy IVR solutions were very limited in their role of self-service applications, providers, who have already exploited them innovatively in the context of Vertical Market applications, will most likely be able to use their experience more effectively within the expanded context of a multimodal mobile smartphone environment.

5. Future-proofing an IP Telephony investment will require that it be based upon open industry standards, support for mobile device independence, and integration with third-party business process applications. These will support communication innovation that the next generation of users of IP Telephony and UC will require.

6. With the move of IP Telephony into a software-based environment, it has opened the door to providers who can also offer the use of that software as a hosted service (SaaS) or, in the case of communication services (CaaS). That option is rapidly gaining traction in the UC marketplace and can provide an alternative mode of implementation with lower capex costs and greater opex flexibility.

Will Your Incumbent Telephony Provider Be Able to Deliver Your UC-based IP Telephony Applications?

In planning your move to the future of mobile, UC-based IP Telephony applications, it may be questionable whether a traditional telephony provider is really ready to tackle the fast-moving new demands of multimodal and transmodal Mobile UC self-service applications required by your customers. One new source of technology for telephony applications is based on using speech to simplify end user information input, but using speech recognition to convert it to text, which is more efficient for application processing, storage, retrieval and user interface management. For this reason, it will be appropriate to consider other reputable technology providers who are moving more quickly to deliver innovative UC solutions that will support voice with speech recognition as application inputs, but also exploit visual output for practical online user interface efficiencies.

What Do You Think?

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Getting UC Payoff Faster With Hosted IP Telephony

Copyright © 2010 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

March 5, 2010

Getting UC Payoff Fast With Hosted IP Telephony For Both Internal Users and Customers
Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

A recent enterprise market study confirmed that customer-related business processes have the most important priorities for UC capabilities. This means that any communications involving either customer-facing staff or customers directly (self-services) will benefit the enterprise the most from UC flexibility. It makes little difference how or where the communication services are provided to the different end users, but ultimately, cost will be an influence.

By now, everyone understands that traditional business telephone voice applications are slowly but surely becoming an integrated part of multi-modal “unified communications” (UC) for both enterprise users and customer interactions. This means shifting legacy TDM network connections to SIP-based VoIP networks, software-based call management (IP Telephony), and exploiting multimodal endpoint devices on the desktop (e.g., PC “softphones”) and mobile “smart-phones.”

Initiating and receiving phone calls through UC will not only exploit more efficient and contextual visual user interfaces, e.g., presence-based “click-to-call”, but will also enable business process automated applications to initiate real-time notifications to people and support self-service transactions in the recipient’s interface of choice. This flexibility will be particularly important as consumers and business users increasingly adopt personalized, mobile “smart-phones” for faster, flexible modes of contact accessibility. All of this software-based flexibility, however, means greater technology complexity, which is increasingly difficult and expensive to support with traditional in-house IT resources, especially when software products will be constantly changing and evolving.

The biggest challenge for enterprise organizations migrating to such a UC environment, will be to change their existing telephony systems and voice applications to integrate seamlessly and device-independently with other UC components such as email, unified messaging (UM), Instant Messaging, presence management, communications enabled business processes (CEBP), social networking, and mobile network services.

How To Get Going Fast With Minimal Cost? - Hosted Services!

As everyone will tell you, migrating the enterprise to UC is a “journey.” That means you have to selectively prioritize which business processes and which end users (staff, customers) should be implemented first with UC capabilities. Since we are talking about changing existing business processes through new communication facilities, it will be important to “pilot” such redesigned applications first, before going operationally across the enterprise.

Fortunately, because IP Telephony is now software-based and accessible over the Internet, it has joined other business process applications in becoming easily available as a hosted or managed service that can be used to replace or supplement legacy premise-based TDM telephone systems and call center technologies. IP Telephony service is labeled as “Communications as a Service” (CaaS) and is becoming a key starting point for hosted UC services.

The proven benefits of any hosted telephony service usually include:
· No capital expense, controllable operational expenses based on actual usage/need, operational management controls over usage

· Selective use of UC applications features, including IP Telephony, for either internal users, partners, or customers

· Centralizes management and support for multiple site locations. Does not require adding in-house IT expertise to maintain new applications. This will be especially useful where there are different communication technologies being used at different site locations.

· Enables new contact center applications to be developed and activated within only a few weeks or months, depending on the level of integration and customization required, compared to traditional, location-based implementations.

· Integrates with and supplements existing enterprise communication technologies (e.g., PBXs, Microsoft OCS, Email, IM, mobile and wireless services, etc.)

· Integration with on-site business process applications

· Exploits efficient SIP networking architecture overlay

· Provides centralized backup survivability for individual locations

· Supports all necessary user interfaces required by different end users

· Applications can be easily and dynamically implemented and changed as needed

· Flexible payment plans for on-demand usage

· Option to move hosted technology on-premise for either managed support service or for full internal support

Because of the obvious benefits of hosted and managed software applications, all large technology and service providers are starting to offer such services instead of traditional software and system sales. The question now becomes one of who should be your hosted service provider?

Who Can Best Support Your Hosted Applications?

Because the IP network has now become critical for multi-modal access to all centralized, “cloud-based” applications, it is easy to fall into the trap of expecting network providers to also support your business process applications as if they were simple phone connections. Network service providers who offer hosted or managed applications are really “resellers,” who themselves can’t directly provide the necessary application support that the original application developers can offer.

When it comes to application developers who might now be directly offering hosted application services, even there you have to look at the level of integration they provide for interoperability between the different applications and the different end users involved. In particular, UC for internal business users doesn’t really do much for customer needs, or what I have labeled as “Customer UC.” The latter will provide special UC facilities for customer-facing personnel, including agents (in-house, home), subject matter “experts,” mobile sales and field support staff, and customer contact operational management. This will also include all flavors of inbound and outbound contacts for customer self-service applications, automated notifications, and multi-modal access to live assistance (real-time and "as-soon-as-possible").

The developers of a hosted application are the best source for the hosted service because of the following considerations:

· The Developer already owns the solution and can more rapidly provide/add applications when needed

· The Developer owns the code and can fix bugs more rapidly

· The Developer can provide superior support since they know the products inside and out.

· A telecom service provider relies upon its relationship to the original Developer (Avaya, Nortel, etc.) for updates, bug fixes, troubleshooting, etc.

· A telecom service provider can usually only provide a subset of a product’s feature set, since it typically only wants to support the most common set of features that applies to the broadest possible audience

The challenge for enterprise organizations is to find a specialized IP Telephony and Contact Center technology developer that can also provide maximum flexibility in its hosted services offerings.

Interactive Intelligence Has “All-in-One” Integration Head-start on Hosted UC

Back in 1997, Interactive Intelligence introduced the first open, “all-in-one” communications software platform that integrated all telephony applications. They supplement or replace traditional PBXs with their value-add telephony applications for both business users and for customer interactions. More recently, they moved up the food chain to provide software tools for creating business process work flow applications that integrate tightly with their communication applications.

Interactive Intelligence now offers their open “all-in-one” software applications as a hosted service, which will enable enterprise organizations that are looking for a hosted solution to benefit from the tight integration between communication applications that has already been implemented. By virtue of its open architecture, and their basic SIP-based Interaction Center Platform, Interactive Intelligence is well prepared to quickly support any and all business communication application needs of their hosted service customers.

What Do You Think?

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is Everything Mobile Going To Be A "Phone?"

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

Windows Phone 7

I am somewhat surprised that the name given by Microsoft to its new mobile operating system platform is a "phone.'” After all, the term "phone" comes from the Greek word for "voice." The word “telephone” means "far voice." Just because the mobile device/system will handle voice applications, in addition to visual data, doesn't make it just a "phone!"

But maybe because Apple took the lead in calling their multimedia device the "iPhone," everything that can also handle voice applications will have "phone" in its name.

Of course, voice is just a piece of the “unified communications" picture, which enables application speech interfaces as well as real-time contextual voice contacts with people. But various forms of real-time text messaging are already replacing traditional phone calls, especially by online self-service applications that need timely contact with a specific person.

So, it’s really not just about voice coming into play here, but other mobile user interfaces as well!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mobile UC and Customer Interactions

Copyright © 2010 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
January 23, 2010

Customer UC + Smartphones + CEBP = UC-B and UC-U Enterprise Payoffs

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

The bottom line payoff for UC-based business communications has been widely promoted as optimizing business process performance through communications efficiency and flexibility or “UC-B.” While there are also direct benefits to individual end users (UC-U) in terms of their productivity, the reality is that the more you can automate a business process and the less you need to depend on people to be part of the business process, the more efficient that process can be. (In the real world, however, we really can’t automate everything all the time!)

With the rapid adoption of personalized mobile, multimodal, smartphones by both consumers and business users, the opportunity to exploit UC for both inbound and outbound (proactive notifications) real-time interactions between customers, enterprise action-takers, and automated business applications will be increasing significantly. What that means is that both automated self-service applications and access to live assistance can be initiated by either a business process or by a customer, and the real-time medium of communication can selectively be combinations of “click-to-call” voice conversations, “Push-to-talk” (voice message exchange), online application interactions, or text messaging (IM, SMS). (Social networking might now also be part of the interaction game.)

The “Apps Store” concept of wireless service providers can be extended to enterprise portals to facilitate individual consumer access to various mobile customer applications, while at the enterprise end, an automated business process can monitor the status of application metrics and proactively initiate a personalized customer contact with a choice of user interfaces based on accessibility (device, Presence status) or user preference.

I see CEBP getting the most mileage out of mobile online applications and proactive “process-to-person” multimodal notifications, (authorized, of course), both coupled with “click-for assistance” (choice of IM or voice connection). Such contacts will be more “intelligent” and efficient because they will be multimodal and contextually initiated, based on the information source used by the customer for contact initiation or the business application that exploits CEBP. It won’t be just their identity as a caller or the location they call from.

If we are looking at UC-B business process benefits as the major justification for implementing UC, we obviously must highlight customer contacts and interactions as a key target for UC flexibility because that is where revenue and profit come from (in addition to cost savings). Accordingly, as consumer adoption of personalized mobile smartphones increases, the old enterprise voice-based customer call center game has to change to multimodal live and self-service interactions as well.

Hello proactive “IVVR” applications! (Interactive Voice-Visual Response)

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Business Users Want Their Own Smartphones For Both Company and Personal Use

Copyright © 2010 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
January 10, 2010

Business Users Will Want Their Own Mobile “Smart-phones” For Consumer UC

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

With all the announcements about mobile “smartphones” at last week’s 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, I was glad to see the recent smartphone survey by Forrester Research aimed at mobile business end users (“information workers” or “iWorkers”), who are also “consumers.” They will be the key users of converged UC applications because of the multimodal flexibility demands of mobile users, who can’t always talk, hear, look or type to communicate. The survey results confirm our view that not only must enterprise UC support these popular mobile devices, but those mobile devices will be chosen by and paid for, if necessary, by the individual end users.

It also means that a single, multimodal smartphone device will have to support “dual persona” usage, i.e., treating the same individual differently as a consumer than as a business user or enterprise employee. The former enables personal contacts and services including entertainment, while the latter will apply appropriate priorities for business contacts and applications controllable by an enterprise.

With business applications and information access moving into Internet “cloud” servers, mobile endpoint devices can exploit browsers that can handle on-line applications regardless of differences in smartphone form factors. This will make it practical to use a single, multimodal mobile device for multiple contexts and application interfaces supported by UC.

Highlights of Forrester End User Survey on Business User Mobility

The Forrester survey covered responses from 2001 information workers who worked in an organization with 100 or more employees.

· 11% of U.S. workers currently use a “smartphone” at work
(14% of iWorkers in the U.S., Canada, and UK)
· 64% would like to use smartphones for work
· 33% of respondents use their own mobile phones for work
For comparison, (33% of U.S. workers have a laptop)
· Teleworkers, on average work two hours more per week than office workers
· 81% of iWorkers use smartphones from home
· 62% while traveling
· 64% at their office desks
· 29% spend more than 3 hours a day on their mobile device

The increasing demand for smartphone usage for both personal consumer usage, as well as business needs, is leading enterprise organizations to move away from “corporate-liable” cost responsibility for all mobile usage to a “shared user-liable” approach to costs which allows individual users to choose their own smartphones and services.

The “Fly in the Smartphone Ointment”

While the practical demand for increased device-independent mobility for business applications is rapidly increasing, there are, unfortunately, still software standardization barriers for smartphones. These will interfere with realizing the objective of “universal” mobile accessibility to both people contacts and mobile business apps through smartphones. These problems are highlighted in an article reporting from the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where new smartphones were one of the big highlights of the show.

With all the new smartphones being announced, the problem for universal interoperability of mobile applications apparently is the fact that they use different mobile operating systems that are incompatible. Even mobile OS software from the same developer comes in a variety of versions. This has caused mobile application developers to create different versions of their applications – a very expensive and restrictive way to productize software.

A potential solution to the problem is expected from a new, hardware-independent, software-based platform standard called HTML5, which is expected to start putting in an appearance this year. This is expected to support graphical applications through smartphone Web browsers.

Consumer use of Smartphones will prove a boon to customer interactions with enterprise organizations and services, because they will enable personalized, timely, proactive customer service notifications by automated business process applications (CEBP). This will be particularly useful in health care and financial services, where notification flexibility and timeliness can be critical, along with easy contextual access to live assistance (“click-to-call”) when necessary.

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