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Monday, March 26, 2012

UC Enabled Apps Need "TCU"

Copyright © 2012 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

March 26, 2012

Will Cloud Services and Analytics Shift UC “TCO” To “TCU” and “TCS?”

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View/ UC Strategies Expert

Voice and video communications are joining automated business applications in becoming software rather than hardware dependent. This will facilitate the interoperability and integration of these two groups of computer applications, particularly in a virtual, “cloud” based network environment that will support both desktop and mobile apps.

The transition to hosted services and BYOD mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) will shift the emphasis of technology implementation planning factors from TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), most applicable to acquisition and maintenance of premise-based hardware and software applications, to hosted and managed application service offerings.

While ROI (Return On Investment) is still an overall practical measure of benefits from any technology investment cost, those costs really should be correlated with different types of benefits that have have to expensed. Going to separate levels of benefits and related costs will make it easier to determine how applications can be used most cost effectively and how usage needs should be supported cost efficiently.

New analytics are becoming key tools for tracking application activity that will enable better understanding about who uses what applications, when, and with what results. Analytics can also provide immediate feedback on how well the application is designed from a user interface perspective, as well as indications of workforce performance in using applications by internal staff for their different job responsibilities (“roles”). While the contact center is an ideal target for analytics, it can be applied to everyone in an informational workforce environment.

Total Cost of Usage (TCU)

Probably the most logical metric that should be applied to any application or combination of applications is what I would call “Total Cost of Usage.” The amount of actual usage for any communication of business application is a measure of value for a particular application. Usage analytics will also provide feedback about who (type of user) may be getting the most value from that application; that information provides further insight into the value that application generates for a particular business process.

Putting those factors together will be particularly useful as online, self-service applications become more mobile and highly focused on particular information needs of individual end users. The number of such “public” applications is already humungous, but they are just starting to make their way into enterprise controlled “app stores.” This is where TCU will become important as such “mobile apps” will require constant updating to meet enterprise BYOD needs, as well as operational business demands.

Another perspective on application TCU will be its UC enablement in terms of immediate access to live assistance, e.g., “click-to-call/chat.” This factor will be a major source of additive labor costs, as well as a measure of end user satisfaction (internal staff, external customers). Mobile apps will become a major activity gateway to the UC Contact Center of the future, as increased access to information will precede the need to access assistance. So, the cost of application usage should include costs of optional related assistance.

Total Cost of Application and User Support

Although there may appear to be overlap with the above described usage costs, I am suggesting that support costs here will fall into the more traditional roles of IT for application software maintenance, associated hardware and infrastructure maintenance, new integrations, end user training, and “Help Desk” functions. Again, by applying analytics to application support activities, the value of individual application usage can be matched to support costs.

With the advent of managed, hosted cloud-based services, applications will be increasingly provided to end users through a variety of endpoint devices, many of which will be covered by mobile BYOD policies as far as costs and support are concerned. Further, hosted business services will be provided selectively on a subscription basis, which will facilitate usage management at the application level. However, the value and effectiveness of application use will still have to be carefully evaluated individually by business management.

The new world of UC enabled applications is going to be very flexible, but complex, and will require organizational management especially at the CIO level, to change their perspectives on planning, implementing, and evaluating the use the new technologies.

This post sponsored by the CIO Collaboration Network and Avaya