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Monday, December 24, 2012

How IT Thinks About Supporting Mobile UC

Copyright © 2012 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
December 23, 2012

Until Apple introduced the first multi-modal smartphone in 2007, there was relatively little UC benefit to end users sitting at their desktops or even using cell phones. Now that there is huge adoption of mobile smartphones and tablets, the UC market has exploded in many ways.
There are now many forecasts about changes in business communications technology and you might want to check the recent podcast by the experts at UC Strategies discussing expectations for 2013. It is clear that UC-enabled mobile communications (including “mCEBP”?) is at the top of everyone’s list for tablets and smartphones. However, there is a big difference in how such devices will be used, depending on who the end user is. In particular, it is necessary to differentiate consumer usage vs. employee work usage, especially when it comes to “BYOD” concerns for security.
We really have to look at mobility activities from several perspectives including:
·        Device form factors and User Interfaces (screen size, controls)
·        Mobile Operating Systems
·        Multi-modal Mobile Applications
·        Access Security and Privacy controls
·        Costs – Who pays for what?
·        End user “Help Desk” (technology) support
When it comes to choosing a mobile device, especially when it will be used for personalized contacts, there is little question that consumers will choose what they like and can afford for all their needs. That is what I have referred to as “Consumer BYOD,” and will have as great or a greater effect on any IT organization as will employee BYOD concerns, for two main reasons:
1.     All employees, by definition, are also consumers and therefore customers of other organizations.
2.     As customers, consumers are the source of revenue generation, as opposed to cost savings and productivity benefits of self-service applications and more efficient communications for organization employees.
So, since mobility has value for any end users inside and outside of any organization, the challenge is how to support and manage both mobile online business applications and mobile communication applications for anyone interacting with the organization.

Interesting New Survey of IT Perspective of BYOD Mobility

There have been all kinds of surveys done in an effort to identify where the market is going with new disruptive online and mobile technologies. It is clear that it is a cultural evolution that requires strategic planning for migrating from premise-based hardware and software to more “virtual” and hosted services in private and public “clouds.” Regardless of how various mobile applications are actually implemented, there will be an ongoing responsibility for internal organizational oversight of the management and support of applications that will be used by a variety of internal and external end users.    
A recent survey by a recently formed consortium of enterprise software companies focused on mobility, the Enterprise Device Alliance, confirms some mobile impacts and trends for internal IT organizations. These include the following:
·        86% of organizations allowed BYOD in 2012 (75% in 2011)
·        2013 percentage of smartphone users to increase for iPhones (92%), Android (77%), Windows (44%) – decrease for Blackberry (56%)
·        Tablets will be a principal employee mobile device (over 90%) that IT will support, replacing laptops
·        Email is the leading productivity app for all mobile devices supported
·        “Help Desk” support to mobile employees is given or planned to be given by 45% of enterprise organizations, in addition to other resources
·        Mobile security is leading concern of IT; 71% want to authenticate with Active Directory 
·        Mobile access because of mobile OS capabilities is limited by 60% of respondents
·        MDM usage in 2013 to reach 60%
·        Despite increase in mobile usage demands, IT staffing will not increase for most organizations

Remember Other Considerations For Mobility

There are other considerations that mobility will affect, including hosted, “cloud” applications and supporting mobile “Consumer BYOD.” While employees will exploit tablets in using work-related mobile applications, consumers will more likely rely on smartphones of their for all their communication contacts, including voice, video, chat, and notifications/responses, as well as online self-service interactions. This will certainly change the traditional Call/Contact Center game into what I have called the “Multi-modal Interaction Center” to support mobile customers.
While “Help Desk” support has traditionally been provided to organization employees for their desktop needs, it is being extended to mobile employees, as reflected in the survey results. However, there is even more demand for such technology support for consumers, reflected in the “Consumerization of IT,” where consumers with mobile computerized devices need technical help. It’s not just about mobile contacts with people, but mobile interactions with application software.
Such change will put more pressure on organizations to support all leading mobile and desktop devices and operating systems that the consumer public adopts, as well as providing UC-enabled self-service “mobile apps” through enterprise and service provider “app stores.” This will include increased use of proactive, outbound notifications and alerts from automated applications ("mCEBP") to a variety of consumer mobile smartphones and tablets.
2013 will be putting more “meat on the bones” of both enterprise and service provider mobile applications and support tools. However, as pointed out in the survey report summary, “Mobile devices have not yet saturated the enterprise, but they are pouring in.” 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Unified Mobile Self Services For Consumers Moving To Clouds

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

Rapid user adoption of mobile smartphones and tablets and their impact on Internet access is changing business communications and interactions. For a “big picture” overview how such change is affecting IT for both organizations and consumers, see the latest report by Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers.
The statistics reaffirm the growth of mobility and personalization that is driving change in how organizations interact with customers/consumers, as well as with their employees.  They also reflect the role of flexible unified communications for both internal users as well as for multi-modal interactions with consumers/customers.

Improving Customer Services With Mobile, Multi-modal Self-Service Applications

Although contact center technologies from the leading industry providers are slowly shifting to public, private, and hybrid “cloud” offerings, there are also innovative players who are moving faster to exploit mobility and cloud-based applications in practical ways that I have long been waiting for. In particular, they are supporting consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets to increase the role of online applications for customer self-services over legacy IVR applications, while UC-enabled “click-for-assistance” provides access to live support on demand. Two technology providers that caught my attention recently are Voxeo, with their approach to “Unified Self-Service” and the second incarnation of Radish Systems, with their ChoiceView Visual IVR service for smartphone users.
Of particular interest, is not only how legacy IVR applications are becoming multi-media, but also how such self-service applications are supporting both inbound and outbound “mobile apps” and hosted by leading communications service providers. As consumers shift to mobile, multi-modal interactions with all types of organizations, legacy contact centers will increasingly become cloud-based and UC-enabled for self-services.
Mobile Users Need More Notification Control As Contact Recipients   
Business communications is a two-way-street, but not just between individual people any more. People contact organizations and organizations contact people using various modes of contact (AKA “channels”), contextually exploiting online business applications and CEBP. We see increasing recognition of the need for legacy business contact centers to support such flexible, multi-modal interactions because of what I call mobile “Consumer BYOD.”  However, the same concerns for flexibility and control applying to all individual mobile users, who now must handle a variety of business and personal inbound and outbound contacts, except, guess what? They don’t have personal “agents” to handle all important (time-sensitive) inbound contacts (calls, ALL forms of messages) when they are too busy doing something else.
So, the more ways that people can be directly contacted by other people or by business process applications (CEBP), especially in real-time (voice, SMS, IM, video calls), the greater the need to automatically screen and manage incoming contacts. Otherwise, people will be spending most of their valuable time going through emails, all kinds of notifications and alerts, SMS messages, phone/video call attempts, social networking postings, etc. For this reason, it is time to focus on the individual end user’s need for what I would describe as “unified notification” management that can deal contextually with the dynamics of mobile contacts by recipients and their individual time priorities.
To prove my point here is an interesting commentary from a blogger on the subject of managing his incoming mobile messaging and notifications.The “cloud” is already being exploited to provide hosted inbound contact center services to organizations, so can it also be used to provide personal contact management services to individual consumers?
So Who Will Provide “Unified Mobile Notification” Services To Consumers?
The answer lies with the service provider(s) that the mobile user will use in a BYOD environment.  Since BYOD implies the procurement of mobile devices from a service provider that also provides network connectivity, the wireless carriers are obvious candidates for such responsibilities. Perhaps this is one reason that Voxeo has spun off a new company that will provide self-service applications capabilities to service providers.
However, with a “dual persona” approach to sharing a mobile device between work responsibilities and all other personal interactions, it would appear logical to have incoming contacts controlled by the individual user for both personas, i.e., screening the contact initiator, the type of contact, the form of notification, and the options to respond to respond at this particular time.
Some of these features have long existed under the umbrella of personal call management services (telephone answering) and voice mail systems available to business end users, e.g., AVST, but with multi-modal mobility, must be expanded.
When it comes to such notifications and alerts, there is an issue of personal time availability, as well as the mode in which the alert will be executed because of situational circumstances. Take your pick:
  •  Vibration
  •  Audible sounds
  •  Visual displays
  • Other?
  •  Do not disturb at all
Clearly, the individual end user will have to dynamically select what will be suitable in any given mobile situation, especially when driving a car and restricted to an eyes-free, hands-free user interface. The challenge to make such dynamic control simple, intuitive, and as automatic as possible. Let’s not pass the buck to the contact initiators to check presence information before making contact – that doesn’t solve the recipient’s problem.