What is Collaboration Enabled Business Transformation and how different is it from CEBP or Communications Enabled Business Process?


Communications Enabled Business Process has been an industry term for sometime.

Today the market is rife with various acronyms CEBP, BPR etc that all mean niche integration of communication capabilities into different business areas. In this blog I would like to bring out my definition and perspectives around Collaborations Enabled Business Transformation (CEBT).


CEBT is the embedding of Communications and Collaboration capabilities into the business fabric of enterprises driving efficiency, optimization and transformation


The following diagram depicts what is in scope for a CEBT flow




Business events such as Process Excursion, Deviation or Threshold attainment require different enterprise participants to respond or make appropriate decision. CEBT involves the identification of these expert/experts, then utilizing user contextual information such as Presence, availability and preferences routing the business context to these experts. Where the event requires team response, collaborative mechanisms such as video, audio or web conferencing is used to facilitate team conversations. Further escalation and delegation rules are built into the flows. Information repositories and workspaces aid in information sharing to aid in the decision making process.

The above in scope flows are then integrated into either existing or transformed process flows.




How does CEBT differ from Communications Enabled Business Processes or CEBP?

CEBT differs from CEBP in the following ways:

  • CEBT      seamlessly integrates rich collaboration, social enterprise features and      communications into business processes and applications as opposed to CEBP      that includes only communication capabilities notably notifications.
  • CEBT      includes two types of process integrations
    • Process       transformation – This involves changing or transforming the underlying       business process through the use of communications, collaboration and       social features. This accelerates the business value/business case from       CEBT
    • Process       optimization – This involves just embedding communications and       collaboration into the business process without changing the underlying       process flow.
  • CEBT      is more than a product or offer. It is a full fledged methodology. This      concept is further detailed below


What is the CEBT methodology?

CEBT is not a single product, solution or integration but is a methodology that involves the following:

·        analyzing the strategic framework of an enterprise

·        identifying the gaps or points of improvement

·        Modeling the process flows that drive these concerns.

·        analyzing the process flows using the deep process analysis methodology

·        drawing up the collaborative process flow changes

·        computing the economic impact from the optimized or transformed process flow

·        And finally implementing these flows using communications and collaboration technology.

     Just as any other transformational activity within an enterprise, CEBT is also governed by financial and operational metrics. The deep process analysis of the baseline and transformational state together with financial analysis of the variances and impact on the enterprise help derive the business case justification for these projects



In blogs following this we will explore and discuss the various components of this methodology. However before we delve into the details and debate the component structure of this methodology I would like to get feedback from all of you on how relevant do you find CEBT for your enterprise/partner/customer? Look forward to some lively discussion on this topic

In a previous post I shared some highlights from different studies that showed the impact of communication inefficiencies in Healthcare. Today I wanted to share a specific use case that shows how Healthcare Providers can leverage Unified Communications in the Emergency Department (ED) to streamline access to on-call specialists.


A few months ago I had to visit the Emergency Room at my local hospital to get treatment for some very severe pain. An Emergency Room visit is rarely an enjoyable experience but what made this visit more unpleasant was the length of time I spent waiting. I waited for nearly 3½ hours before I was assigned a bed. There was a long wait between the time I was seen by the nurse and the ED physician. It took an even longer time for the ED physician to find the on-call specialist and come back to tell me that the on-call specialist had confirmed his suspicions. There was no emergency so I could be discharged but there was another 20 minute wait before the nurse could actually discharge me. While I waited I wondered what the key reasons were for the delays and what my experience would have been like if the nurses and physicians had better communications capabilities.


Let’s look at one of the areas of delay – finding the on-call specialist. This process can be quite tedious and slow in many hospitals. On-call schedules are often not available online and a nurse or an ED Tech might have to refer to a paper schedule to determine who the on-call specialist is for different specialties and their associated contact numbers. Having found the number from the paper schedule the ED Tech or nurse calls the number manually. If the doctor doesn’t answer he or she has to look for other contact numbers and calls them. This ties up the nurses and keeps them away from providing care to patients.


Fortunately hospitals can significantly streamline this process and reduce time to connect to an on-call specialist by as much as 50%, by leveraging a Cisco Unified Communications solution that is integrated with a partner’s (Magpie Healthcare) On-call application. A nurse or an ED Tech can just use their wireless phone and select one of the specialties for which they need an on-call specialist and hang up, which frees them up to be with their patients. The system looks up the specialist who is on-call, calls the different numbers and connects the call back to the requesting person once the specialist answers. The system also automatically looks for a backup if the specialist doesn’t answer. At a hospital with less than 100 beds this solution drove an annual productivity benefit of over $350,000.


Beyond this example there are other use cases in the ED where integrating collaboration capabilities with applications to streamline workflows can help improve the experience for patients. I will periodically share other examples that I am seeing and the benefits that they are driving. What examples have you seen in the ED where enhancing collaboration is improving the experience for patients?

Remember 2000?  An article appeared that year in Internet Week that opened, "A new breed of ASP has come to market, offering integrated call center services to small and midsize businesses.  Ineto, EchoPass and Nuasis are all offering pay-as-you-go use of contact management software through the Internet, eliminating the cost of ownership for businesses that want to manage all channels of customer support through a single interface.  And the ASPs are using IP networks to prioritize and route calls to customer service agents, lowering operational costs by taking 800 calls off standard voice networks." [i]


How might that paragraph be re-written in today's parlance? 

  •       First ASP, or Application Service Provider, would become hosted.  Or software as a service.  Or most likely, especially this month, cloud-based.

  •       Call center services becomes contact center services as voice-only is so 2000.

  •       Small and midsize changes to companies large, even very large.  In this down market there seems to be little appetite for spending the time and money to build a channel to go after small and mid-sized contact center opportunities.

  •       Ineto becomes Oracle after first becoming Siebel.

  •       Nuasis becomes Convergys after first becoming Intervoice.

  •       EchoPass remains, but no longer describes itself as an ASP (also so 2000).  Today they favor on demand or hosted.

  •      Finally IP networks are gone too, morphing into SIP over the past couple of years.


By the way, given the fact that I've been an analyst in the contact center space for twenty years, I could have taken this story back to 1989 and the initial references to central office-based ACD (CO-based ACD).  I decided that the number of people in the current Cisco collaboration community that would understand those translations would be limited, but you get my point.


While some of this is tongue-in-cheek, there is a serious historical fact here.  Repeatedly over the last twenty or so years, there have been those that have tried to convince IT and customer service management to move their sales and support applications into the network.  All the arguments being used today are the same ones used in the past - it seems only the technology gets updated with each cycle. 

[i] Judy DeMocker, 2000.  "Outsourcing Call Centers ASPs."  Internet Week.  No longer available online, retrieved from personal archives.

As an avid Twitter and Facebook user, the growing social software or social networking market and its intersection with unified communications has intrigued me. Whether it’s a public service like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, or a secure enterprise service like Cisco Eos or IBM Lotus Connections, the use of social software is skyrocketing, and is changing the way we communicate and collaborate. Lots of enterprises have been embracing some of these services, and companies like Comcast, Zappos, and Dell all use Twitter, for example, to provide updates to customers and to monitor and to see what people are “tweeting” about them.

For security reasons, some companies discourage their employees from using public social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and are turning to enterprise-class services that provide the security needed while meeting business goals (e.g.; networking with peers within the organization, finding an expert within the company, collaborating on projects, etc.). There are currently a limited number of these enterprise services available today, but this should be the hot growth area, and based on some of the demos I’ve seen at conferences, we should be seeing some innovative services within the next year or so.

So where does unified communications fit in with social software? We’re already seeing some integration with the enterprise services.
Services like Twitter are great for certain things like finding out which of the people you “follow” are at the same conference as you, or to get up-to-the-minute notification and information on what’s going on. But these services are limited in various ways, particularly in the enterprise environment, and integration with some UC tools would be very useful. For example, I may see something important in a colleague’s “tweet” and want to contact them in real time via a phone call and be able to conference in other people to discuss the issue. While Twitter doesn’t provide this capability, there are add-on applications from third parties, such as Phweet that are used to create ad hoc conference calls between groups of Twitter users. It’s only a matter of time until this type of capability can be used with other social software services as well. Also, I would also expect Tweets and updates from Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. to show up in users’ unified messaging inboxes, enabling them to send a reply via various communication modes.

Integration with business processes is also making headway. LenderFlex in Atlanta, Georgia is using Twitter to deliver risk based mortgage pricing to mortgage loan professionals and real estate agents, who can get information when and where they need it by simply twittering a few codes.
There are several ways in which social software and unified communications can be used together, including tying in presence capabilities, click to call, click to conference, mobility, and other capabilities to make it easier to connect with people in your organization who have the expertise and knowledge you need to tap into at the time seems to be the basic and first step.

Also, notifications and alerts on community topics is another valuable way in which communication enabled business process (CEBP) functions are packaged into simple applications such as Twitter. Many applications rely on immediate notification of events to the appropriate people, and Twitter or enterprise-based social networking services could be a fast and easy way to do this.

Expect to see more use cases of social networking and UC in the near future. And feel free to follow me on twitter at blairplez.

I had How can UC help Manufacturing Executives sleep better at night? about how unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) is helping address many of the key concerns of manufacturing CXOs across the manufacturing value chain. In this series of monthly posts I will go deeper into some of those ideas by focusing on one specific part of the manufacturing value chain each time. Let’s start with how UC&C are impacting how enterprises do research and development given that is where value chain really starts – with the germination and development of a new product or service idea. In the R&D process, UC&C can provide three key benefits:


Reduce product development time and costs through use of voice, web and video collaboration – Collaboration tools in general help more effective team-work between increasingly geographically distributed design teams. As Blair Pleasant mentioned in a recent post - they reduce process/human latency and accelerate time to market. By driving a diminished need for travel, they also reduce travel costs and give back hundreds of in-transit hours back to R&D personnel. Immersive video technologies like TelePresence can be particularly effective in this regard. I’ve been talking to a CXO who oversees R&D in a high tech company’s new businesses. His R&D teams are located in 4-5 centers globally and regularly travel to a common location to conduct days-long in-person brainstorming sessions that also require intensive use of white-boards. He believes that Immersive Collaboration Rooms that combine the power of TelePresence-like high def video with interactive virtual white-boards could reduce their travel costs by at least 25% and drive 10-15% faster time to market simply by eliminating the latencies associated with aligning multiple schedules with international travel needs. Greater productivity, higher retention rates are other add-on benefits that he sees accruing from the solution. These rooms are already in use at a different engineering services customer as well to great effect.


But even just  using 'plain, old' integrated audio/web/desk-top video conferencing can drive significant impact in the engineering and design spheres. Ed Flavin, the CIO of Modec, a company specializing in the engineering, procurement, construction and installation of floating production systems spoke at VoiceCon this Spring about how their company is using UC&C in their engineering group. According to Ed, now that Modec engineers can share engineering drawings using Cisco MeetingPlace, they can finalize plans during a day-long meeting instead of emailing files over three to eight weeks, saving tens of thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars in labor costs during a typical two-year project.


Drive faster resolution of daily/routine design tasks like engineering change orders (ECOs) – Leveraging presence and MeetingPlace/WebEx, UC can help reduce latency in daily design tasks like ECOs and help prevent costly project overruns. Per benchmarks for manufacturing companies maintained by the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), enterprises spend nearly 5% of R&D budgets on ECOs. A 10-15% acceleration in ECO resolution can translate into cost savings worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions. Cisco has a joint solution with PTC that integrates UC into PTC’s market leading PLM suite Windchill in a way that allows engineers and project managers to click-to-collaborate within WindChill but also receive automated notifications of ECOs on mobile devices and take action to resolve them with voice commands or by punching buttons on the device even when they are in transit.


Provide more collaborative design environments – In a typical office due to increasingly mobile work-force, the space utilization is less than 50%. Empty offices lack buzz and cubicles are not designed for increasingly collaborative job-profiles. This provides an opportunity to reduce real estate costs while improving the collaborative quotient of an office space. Enterprises like Quanta in Taiwan are moving towards the concept of non-dedicated workspaces that encourage dynamic and more collaborative seating arrangements on a daily basis. So, on a particular day if an R&D engineer needs to work with two colleagues they can choose a cluster of workspaces that are close to each other instead of occupying a conference room for the day. Then the next day the employee may need to work with a different set of colleagues and they can again choose a different set of workspaces that maximizes collaboration for them.


In addition to enabling a more flexible, creative and collaborative work environment this particular capability can also drive hard dollar cost savings by reducing real estate requirements by as much as 40% by eliminating swing space and reducing dedicated conference room needs.


                                                                                          *     *     *     *     *

There are many more interesting and innovative examples of how enterprises are leveraging UC&C capabilities in R&D and I shall periodically write about individual cases. In the meantime, please feel free to add any examples that you’ve seen in the comment section or talk about an R&D issue that you’re grappling with.


Note: Some enterprise descriptions have been modified to ensure anonymity

As I noted in a posting on the Opus Research Web site, it was nice to see RIM showcasing how Blackberry users can both command and take advantage of the call processing features of Cisco's Unified Communications Manager. All of the "cool" moved to top-of-mind when Google relaunched Grand Central as Google Voice are now available to mobile employees with their Blackberries, including the ability to have their office number make their mobile phone ring or the ability to originate calls from their Blackberries and have it behave like their office phone.


The announcement was part of a flurry of innovations that originated at RIM's eighth annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium. While much attention went to RIM's "core" products, like the ability to push content to Blackberries through the RIM Enterprise Server. The Cisco UC partnership was the major announcement surrounding the Blackberry Mobile Voice Server (MVS). So, while it's tempting for product innovators to put emphasis on high-speed data and video, it appears that good ol' voice will continue have a major role in justifying investments in UC and increasing individual productivity and "reachability".

A few years ago, I called my health insurance provider about a claim they had not paid. At the end of the call, I came away feeling that I had not gotten any closer to resolving the problem. The representative was unable to provide any information that I had not already seen on their web site. I was asked to call back in a few weeks… or, better yet, login to their web site to check claim status.


As a customer, I was not pleased. I even considered switching to another health insurance provider. As a contact center professional, I wondered if technology was making things worse for customer relationships. Presumably, the company was reducing costs by using the internet to deliver claim status and interactive voice response technology to answer customer calls. But my opinion as a customer was influenced much more by the human contact. I expected the representative to be able to help me in ways that machines could not. And by that measure, the company was not successful.


A few days ago, I had a different experience when I called my health insurance provider. The voice response system used automated speech recognition now. Detecting my frustration (or was it poor mobile phone transmission?) when I had to answer a question a second time, the system quickly transferred me to a human representative, apologizing for being unable to understand. It didn’t take the representative too long to realize she would not be able to help. But, she was able to bring in a claims resolution expert who was. We got the problem resolved - Right away! I had been frustrated when I called, but was delighted before I hung up. I said so in the satisfaction survey at the end of the call (again, using speech recognition).


As a contact center professional, I wondered what technology they were using. Cisco’s Unified Customer Voice Portal? Unified Presence and Unified Expert Advisor, perhaps? Technology, properly deployed and used, was clearly contributing to a greatly-improved customer experience. But wait, wasn’t there more to this than technology? Clearly, the company had decided to do more to improve the customer experience. It wasn’t just about cutting costs. They were using new technology, but they were also training and empowering representatives to get problems resolved quicker.


Now, more than ever, cutting costs is important to business. But let’s not forget the customer experience. Every customer contact is an opportunity to build loyalty. Sooner or later, the economy will turn around. And customers will remember how you treated them.



Kandy Rathinasamy is a product manager with Cisco’s Customer Contact Business Unit.

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