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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.