The bottom line payoff for unified communications-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, the 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 Interactive Voice-Visual Response applications!
Art Rosenberg, a veteran of the computer and communications industry, contributes his column, The Unified-View to TMCnet. To read more of Art’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Amy Tierney