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 another 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 (News - Alert) and Microsoft will be exploiting UC integrations with voice connections.
What Do You Think?
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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 Marisa Torrieri