Announcement:Cisco Communities NOT Affected by Heartbleed Vulnerability

Collaboration Solutions

12 Posts authored by: b.pleasant

 

During our intense one-day conference att the Cisco Customer Collaboration Analyst Day in Boxboro, MA, a dozen or so analysts got to hear about Cisco’s new contact center offerings and releases.

 

First John Hernandez, VP & GM, Customer Collaboration Business Unit, described how Cisco can reuse development from other parts of the business and scale development larger using a wider range of Cisco developers so that that products like Cisco Pulse can be used for assigning Expert Agents in the contact center, for example. Tools and people from other areas of the company can be leveraged so that capabilities developed and used in one part of the business can be used in other parts of the company.

 

Customer Collaboration – the term that Cisco now uses - is about Cisco’s whole portfolio and how it evolves together, including things like a collaboration agent desktop, video-enabled customer care, social media customer care, etc. For example, Cisco’s Quad is being used with the Customer Collaboration products so that Cisco’s “traditional” contact products like Unified Contact Center Enterprise, Unified Contact Center Express, and Unified Voice Portal can leverage Cisco’s social media tools. Quad will replace CTI desktops, and will simplify the contact center operations for things like screen pops.

 

While social media is an important part of Cisco’s Customer Collaboration roadmap, only 30% of the company’s resources are focused on web 2.0 and social media, while 70% are focused on its core contact center products. Tod Famous discussed the new Release 8.0 capabilities in the Customer Collaboration portfolio, including a new Cisco and Salesforce.com branded cloud service that will be delivered by TeleTech (in the U.S. only), coupling together Salesforce CRM and Cisco contact center in a hosted fashion with simplified administration. The new cloud service is aimed at 30-300 agents or knowledge workers.

 

Unified Contact Center Enterprise 8.0 and Hosted 8.0 added 15 minute interval reporting, new install and setup, UC Analysis Manager, SIP Dialer with gateway-based call progress analysis, and virtualization support. Cisco notes that it will have a 4:1 reduction in servers through virtualization. New features for Unified Contact Center Express 8.0 include high availability over WAN, simplified install and upgrades, UC Analysis Manager, new Cisco 8900 phones and cross cluster extension mobility. For the Unified Customer Voice Portal 8.0, Cisco added the UC Analysis Manager, enhanced SIP capabilities, Courtesy Callback, and virtualization support. Replacing WebView is the new Unified Intelligence Center (based on Cisco’s Latigent acquisition), providing real time and historical dashboards.

 

I was most intrigued by Cisco’s new social media customer care solution – an appliance that searches the web, and then captures, analyzes and prioritizes the work, and assigns and distributes the work. Taking work events and filtering them through business rules, the appliance will decide which work items should be distributed to which resources. As a virtual machine appliance running inside VMWare, the new appliance uses the existing universal queue interfaces on UCCE and can feed the media through UCCE.

 

I don’t expect to see companies start running out to implement these new social media capabilities, but I was glad to see Cisco positioning itself in this area, displaying thought leadership while preparing for the future. Cisco can leverage its social media capabilities in its customer collaboration offerings, and will have product offerings that will be ready when the market is ready.

 

At VoiceCon Orlando, I’ll be presenting my annual Unified Communications Market Overview, and hope you can attend. If you follow the UC market at all, you’ll want to hear the latest UC market update and forecast. In this presentation I’ll cover:

  • Definitions & the 2 types of UC
  • UC Trends
  • A Look at the players
  • UC market numbers and projections
  • How to Get Started

 

Some of the things I’ll be discussing are the two types of Unified Communications (UC-User Productivity and UC-Business Process), the various use cases (contact management and routing, access to mobile personnel, resource identification and resolution, team collaboration, and expert agent), UC benefits and return on investment, trends driving the need for UC, and a look at the UC players and a brief overview of the various offerings. I’ll spend some time explaining how I measure the UC market, and the difference between the “true” and “total” UC market, with forecasts through 2013. Lastly, I’ll share some tips about how to get started on the path to unified communications, and some things to consider when implementing UC.

 

I hope you’ll join me on Monday, March 22 from 3:15-4:00.

 

As I sit in my home office in California reading about the snowstorms that have battered half the U.S., I can’t but think to myself that unified communications and collaboration tools should really be part of any company’s communication strategy. Imagine if people didn’t have to worry about not making it to the office during or after a snowstorm because they have the tools and technologies to let them be just as productive while working from home? 

Watching my twitter feed for unified communications (#ucoms) during these storms, I noticed that several people commented on their ability to keep working and be productive thanks to UC, even when they weren’t able to get to the office.  Of course it’s always nice to get a snow day and take a break now and then, but there are times when you may have an important conference call, or a deadline for a project that has to be completed, or you want your important clients to still be able to reach you when necessary. UC lets you access and respond to your messages, share and work on documents with remote colleagues, and have the same communication tools as in your office from anywhere in the world. Mobile UC applications, teleworking, web collaboration, video conferencing, and of course IM all make it easier for us to get our jobs done from any location, while still communicating and collaborating with colleagues, partners, and customers.

 

Many people focus on the time savings of these UC tools – whether they can save workers 20 minutes a day, or even an hour a day. But that’s not what’s really important – the focus should be on how UC and collaboration tools help us be more efficient, effective and productive at our jobs – regardless of where we are. The ability to stay in touch with colleagues and customers, and to get your work done from home during a snowstorm (assuming there’s no power outage) has a much greater impact on your organization’s bottom line than the ability to save 10 minutes a day.

 

When planning a disaster recovery strategy, unified communications capabilities should be part of this strategy. It won’t solve all your problems, but it will help your workers stay in touch and be productive – unless they’re outside having a snowball fight with their kids.

 

I recently revisited a white paper I wrote in 2003 about collaboration technologies and services, which my colleague Jim Burton and I called i-Cast - Integrated Collaboration Applications, Services and Technologies. i-Cast included both hosted or managed services, as well as premise-based solutions, which could be mixed and matched when creating a total solution, bringing together various collaboration applications, services, and technologies to help people work together via real or non-real time communication, and share and exchange information. I-Cast integrated telephony or voice communications with collaboration technologies/services such as audio/video/web conferencing, instant messaging, presence awareness, document management, file sharing, application sharing, etc., based on standards such as SIP, resulting in new applications such as “e-meetings,” shared workspaces, embedded collaboration, and more.

 

Let’s take a look back at how far we’ve come in just a few years since I wrote that paper.

 

Some of the collaboration challenges companies faced back then still exist today, but with the advent of Unified Communications and new collaboration tools, we’ve overcome many of the issues and challenges. The premise behind the need for i-Cast was that there were many point solutions, such as audio conferencing, IM, email, calendaring, etc., but there were inherent limitations in each of the single components. IM may be ideal for spontaneous interactions and ascertaining the participants’ presence, but didn’t readily integrate with other enterprise applications, or allow for more complex interactions. Web and video conferencing generally did not integrate with other tools such as email and calendaring systems. And there was little or no integration between conferencing tools and business process applications.

 

Document (or content) management systems let workers share files and documents, so that the current version in the shared workspace is the most up-to-date version, including all of the changes that people have made throughout the document’s history. But what happens when someone working on a document needs to discuss the document with a team member in real-time? Without UC, users have to leave the workspace and application(s), try to determine if the other team member is available, and start a different application with a different interface, such as web chat or email. With UC, team members initiate a collaborative session within the context of their work, or from the application they are currently using, and do not have to leave their application and familiar interface in order to have a collaborative session.

 

We’re now moving to the next step that we anticipated in 2003, which we called “e-meetings.” E-meetings added a dynamic persistent workspace, as well as way to view and manage shared contacts, tasks, calendars, discussion forums, and a document repository with presence, while providing a web access client to allow remote users such as customers and partners to participate in the collaboration session.

 

Some of the collaborative social software tools introduced by Cisco, IBM Lotus, Socialtext, and a host of smaller companies are now helping us move in this direction. Unified communications and social software tools are helping to make our vision of i-Cast a reality – whether it’s called collaboration, UC, UCC, or whatever the next hot term will be.

 

 

 

 

 

Day One of the Cisco Collaboration Summit, and we got to hear from John Chambers and Tony Bates. Chambers, as always, did an amazing job of positioning Cisco as a leader and innovator.

 

While Chambers discussed many topics, I was glad that he addressed specifics about collaboration (since it’s a Collaboration Summit, after all). I totally agreed with him when he said that the technology for collaboration is the easy party, but changing a company’s culture is hard, and it’s especially hard to change the way people work. He noted that collaboration needs to be driven from the top down to match a company’s business goals. It also leads to new business models, such as how to respond to a hurricane, or how you move operations to the data center.

 

Demo Master Jim Grubb also did his usual great job of demonstrating several new Cisco products, including the Cisco Enterprise Collaboration Platform (ECP), which lets users create and share social content and expertise. ECP brings together people, information, and communities in an integrated collaboration experience. Customers will have to wait for this, however, since ECP is just going into beta trial today with some key accounts.

 

I expect to get more detailed information about ECP in the next 2 days, but here’s the basic idea. Similar to IBM’s Lotus Connections and products from smaller Enterprise 2.0 companies like Socialtext, ECP is a social software portal application that lets users form team spaces and communities of interest where they can search for individuals with specific expertise, share information, and collaborate and communicate. As Grubb demonstrated, communities can be dynamically created based on a project, for example, and people and resources can be brought into the community quickly and easily. Based on tags and other criteria, users can search for individuals based on skills or expertise and bring them into the community. Using Cisco’s UC tools, users can integrate real-time voice and video capabilities, and send IM’s, initiate real-time voice and/or video calls using click-to-call capabilities. They can also invite other people to join the discussion. Community members can share blogs, wikis, videos, documents, and other information within the shared community workspace.

 

During my cocktail party discussions with some Cisco folks, I was glad to hear that Cisco acknowledges that other vendors have similar social software tools, and they’re not the first ones in this area. However, we agreed there is a gestalt that occurs when ECP can be integrated with Cisco’s UC tools, allowing for a richer collaborative experience, with real-time voice, video, and chat capabilities.

 

I’m looking forward to getting more specifics about ECP and the other new Cisco products – and hopefully I’ll get better as using my Flip video camera and will be able to share video from the conference.

There were some interesting trends that became apparent at VoiceCon San Francisco last week - the two most intriguing trends being about collaboration and social networking. Much of the usual discussion about unified communications became a discussion about UCC – unified communications and collaboration. As UC evolves, it’s becoming more about collaboration, with the real value being about finding the right people, resources, and information we need, when we need it. This will be done both manually and automatically. A business process may kick off a collaboration session, identifying who needs to be included based on their role in the process and the organization, and initiating the collaborative session with the right tools based on the users’ status, device of choice, and function.

 

The second trend is about social networking or social software. There was plenty of discussion about the role of social software in the enterprise, and the benefits of integrating these capabilities with UC. As I spend my second week in a row in San Francisco, I expect to hear a lot more about both these topics at the Cisco Collaboration Summit. I’m especially looking forward to hearing more about what Cisco calls "Customer Collaboration". As one of Cisco’s industry analyst bloggers on the Cisco Collaboration Community, I recently wrote an article about Social Media, Collaboration and Customer Service, noting how the role of social media/software is changing customer service. Cisco’s Tod Famous commented on the blog that, “Social Media is having a big impact on customer care. We're looking forward to helping our customers bring their customer care operational excellence to this new domain of proactive customer care.” And John Hernandez commented, “The market is evolving from contact centers to customer collaboration,” adding, “we’re actively innovating in this area and look forward to sharing more about our plans at our collaboration launch.”

 

So I’m very excited to hear about what Cisco will be doing to help evolve the market by integrating and unifying communications, collaboration, and social software.

 

“Hey Comcast, is it just me, or is cable service down in my area?” Those words set me on the path of becoming a true believer in the power of social media for customer service issues. When my cable TV stopped working for certain channels, my first reaction was to call Comcast to find out what was going on. I soon decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle of going through the various IVR menus until I finally reached a customer service representative to answer my question. I quickly remembered that Comcast has a presence on Twitter and monitors it to see when Comcast is mentioned. I posted my tweet, and quickly got a response from ComcastBonnie (“The Official Comcast Person”) who asked for my zip code so she could look into the problem. She quickly tweeted back that there were no outages in my area, and asked for more information on my issue. After a couple tweets back and forth, we were able to figure out the problem and how to solve it. This all happened in less time than it would have taken had I called Comcast and waited for an agent to help me. I recently learned that besides ComcastBonnie, Comcast has 9 other people monitoring Twitter and are part of the company’s Digital Care Department.

 

Since then I’ve been gathering other stories about how social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. have been helping companies provide better customer service. Companies like Ford, Alaska Air, DirecTV, Southwest Air, Dell, and many others have been at the forefront of using social media tools, including but not limited to Twitter, to help the companies better interact with customers and to help solve customer issues.

 

Using social media tools helps companies be not just reactive, but proactive. If someone tweets, “Is anyone having problem with CNN reception on DirecTV?” for example, DirecTV can reach out to the individual and find out what the problem is, before that person even has a chance to complain. This is what customer service is all about.

 

And it’s not just Twitter – companies are also using Facebook for customer service issues. Microsoft, for example, has a Facebook page called Microsoft Customer Service and Support. It provides information such as important links, and a way to connect with people at Microsoft to get needed information. Panasonic Australia launched support services for several products through Twitter and Facebook so that customers can contact Panasonic support reps and receive replies with further information and fixes or links to product how-to videos on YouTube. Salesforce.com provides customers with a Facebook application and a Twitter plug-in, enabling them to both ask questions and provide answers on the social networking sites. The company is also hosting a “crowdsourced” database of questions and best practice tips, enabling customers to access information on the database and email their users with links to the articles.

 

Expect to see more and more companies using social media not just for customer service provided by the company itself, but in a collaborative environment where peers and other customers can help provide solutions to problems. Caution: this takes customer service out of the control of the company, which can be dangerous. While social media sites can be great for providing another source of customer contact, they have to be closely monitored to ensure that the information being provided – from both internal and external sources – are credible and accurate. This will require new tools and new ways of ensuring that customers are getting accurate and useful information.

 

 

While social media and networking sites are a great way to enhance your brand and customer service efforts, it’s important to maintain control over the quality of the support. Or else your customers will have more issues to tweet about.

 

I recently revised and updated my unified communications market forecasts and projections, and the news was not happy. Several areas of the UC market saw decreased revenues and shipments in 2009, with lower-than-expected growth for 2010. Sales of products such as IP PBXs generally decreased in 2009 as IT budgets were slashed to the bare minimum.

 

The economy has taken its toll on many technology markets – and unified communications is certainly no exception. The economic downturn has caused companies of all sizes to delay planned technology purchases, with aspects of UC near the top of the postponement list. Many companies are finding it challenging to prove the ROI for UC and have not seen the need for implementing UC solutions while they’re struggling to stay alive.

 

The good news is that there is one technology segment that’s growing - collaboration. While other aspects of unified communications are experiencing slower than expected growth, the conferencing and collaboration segment is expected to show a 25% compounded annual growth rate over the next five years. It’s clear that collaboration technologies provide value to companies, even in these challenging economic times.

 

Companies are recognizing that they can save money on travel while keeping their employees productive by implementing collaboration technologies. Conferencing/collaboration is one of the few areas where it’s easy to demonstrate a hard ROI. Whether it’s a sophisticated, high-end telepresence system or a more cost-effective desktop video solution, companies can show significant ROI while enabling their workers to continue doing the work they need to do – without stepping foot on a plane.

 

Most conferencing capabilities have been provided to enterprises via services offerings, rather than on-premise products. This is beginning to change, as vendors have introduced more cost-effective conferencing products that companies of all sizes can implement.

Not only do collaboration and conferencing technologies save money by reducing travel expenses, they also let workers be more productive. Instead of spending time getting to and from the airport, sitting on a plane, driving to a hotel, workers can actually be – working!

 

A couple months ago I was speaking with a vice president of a very large UC systems integration company and asked what, if anything, customers were buying in this economy. Without hesitation he immediately said “conferencing,” noting that their videoconferencing practice was going gangbusters. While he acknowledged that times were tough and they were not implementing as many UC solutions for customers as they had anticipated, he noted that they’re actually installing more videoconferencing systems than expected.

 

Of course, for collaboration technologies to succeed, they have to be used in ways that make good business sense. In the past, many of the companies that implemented video technology, for example, were unhappy with the results. Some thought that it would be important to simply be able to see someone’s face while interacting with them. “Talking heads” as they’re known isn’t the best use of video technology. Instead, companies are getting tremendous value from using video and collaboration for training, technical support, document sharing, and other use cases. The key is not to use technology for technology sake, but to reach a specific business outcome.

 

So while the UC in general has taken a hit from the economy, collaboration technologies are the one exception, as they help companies save time and money, while adding value to the organization.

On the road to UC, many companies start with the User Productivity elements, focusing on how UC impacts individual users and teams or workgroups. There are significant benefits to be gained from the personal or user productivity aspect of UC - but is it enough?


While working on a UC End User Productivity study I conducted with my colleague Nancy Jamison, we interviewed various types of UC users. Rather than talking primarily with the IT managers who are responsible for implementing and running the UC systems, we spoke with the people who use UC on a daily basis to find out how UC is helping them be more productive and effective in their jobs. We found that almost all of the UC users who we spoke with are really happy campers – they LOVE their UC systems. In fact, when asked, “What would you do or how would you react if your UC system was taken away from you?” we got similar responses from all the respondents, ranging from “I’d scream” to “it would be painful” to “I can’t imagine working without it.”

 

Several respondents liken UC to email –while it’s hard to identify the time savings, it’s a tool that helps you better communicate with people and better do your job. Whether UC saves you 30 minutes a day or 3 hours isn’t the point – it helps workers be more productive and effective. When asked, “Do you feel UC helps you be more effective at your job?” the answer is usually “absolutely.”

 

However, it’s still challenging to quantify the benefits of UC on worker productivity. One respondent noted “It helps productivity in a subtle way from a numbers standpoint, but in the end it’s obvious that you’re getting things done more quickly.” Another noted, “I’m much more effective in being able to deal with business issues in a real time manner.”


So does it matter whether or not you can prove a hard ROI for UC in order to justify purchasing and implementing a UC solution? Yes and no. Often times when I give presentations on UC I ask the audience members the question “Do you need to demonstrate the ROI of UC before getting approval for a UC solution.” Sometimes the audience overwhelmingly says yes, but at other times they overwhelmingly say no. When I speak to IT managers who have implemented UC solutions, I have found that more and more, companies are willing to take the plunge into UC without necessarily having the hard ROI data to back it up. While this is certainly not the case for everyone, I believe we’ve reached a point where enough people and companies understand the value of UC and how it helps improve worker productivity and effectiveness, and thus the bottom line, to be able to move forward with what is actually a pretty economical deployment.


I’d love to hear from you about how you would respond – is a demonstrable ROI necessary in order for your company to deploy unified communications? Let me know.

One of my favorite topics is the inevitable coming together of unified communications, collaboration, and the contact center. I’ve been writing about expanding the contact center to the enterprise and using “expert agents” since the late 1990s. In fact, I gave a presentation at a Call Center conference in 1998 entitled, “The Call Center Without Walls.” Back in the 1990s we were talking about using computer telephony integration (CTI) to extend the contact center to the enterprise, and in the early-mid 2000’s IP telephony and IP PBXs came into the picture and made this scenario even more likely. The idea of expert agents or informal contact centers is a great idea, but was limited due to the technology, and more importantly, management and personnel issues – particularly, how do you get knowledge workers who have important jobs and responsibilities to take time from their day to assist contact center agents and customers?


Here we are in 2009 and we’re still talking about extending the contact center to the enterprise and making customer service the responsibility of the enterprise, not just the contact center. Why do I think it will finally happen now?

 

Many people think of unified communications as being the evolution of CTI, and in some ways I agree. While CTI was a first step in unifying computers and telephony, UC goes further by integrating computers, telephony, communications, collaboration, mobility, applications, business processes, and more. And - it provides presence capabilities. Contact centers have been using presence status for years – agent state is simply another term for presence. Contact center agents also have ways of chatting or interacting with their supervisors. But presence and chat capabilities weren’t available to knowledge workers outside of the contact center as they are now.

 

Between the predominance of IP telephony and IP networks, unified communications tools, especially presence, IM, and collaboration, the technology barriers no longer exist. The personnel and management issues haven’t gone away, and companies will have to find ways to incent knowledge workers to cooperate with contact center agents and take time out of their busy days to provide information to agents and/or customers. Companies will also have to use some of the contact center technologies throughout the enterprise in order to track, manage, and record customer interactions that involve knowledge workers, and vendors will have to make it easy for enterprises to do this.

 

There are still some obstacles to overcome, but vendors are providing enterprises with new tools and capabilities to meet the challenges. And there are now case studies and examples of companies that are tying in the contact center and unified communications, with more on the way. As companies find ways to be more competitive in these challenging economic times, customer service and customer retention will play an even more important role, Tying in unified communications and the contact center is one way to set your company apart while making your customers happy and loyal – now.

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.

Last month I wrote about the two types of unified communications under the UC umbrella - UC-User (UC-U) and UC-Business Process (UC-B).
In addition to the personal productivity I discussed last month, another aspect of User Productivity is Workgroup or Team Productivity. UC-enabled workgroups can interact and collaborate more effectively, leading to faster development time, quicker time to market, and better and faster decisions – all impacting the bottom line. Collaborative UC tools, such as web conferencing with whiteboarding capabilities, and the ability to initiate ad hoc or spontaneous audio, web, or video conferences with the appropriate people simply by dragging and dropping an individual’s name into a “conference room,” or by clicking on someone’s name and selecting “video chat” from the drop down menu, make it much easier for groups to work together. Teamwork can be facilitated through effective and efficient communications such as the ability to share files during an audio, web, or videoconference. Workgroups are better able to work together as a distributed virtual team, efficiently communicating and sharing information.


UC-Business Process is where things get confusing. Some people refer to this as communication enabled business processes (CEBP), and different vendors have different terms and acronyms for it. Based on the UCStrategies.com definition of UC, “Communications integrated to optimize business processes,” UC includes both the personal productivity elements of UC, as well as the business process integration element, by which I mean integrating or embedding communication capabilities such as presence and call control (i.e.; click-to-call or click-to-conference) with applications such as CRM, ERP, or vertical applications such as claims processing or loan processing.

 

When tied into the business processes and applications companies use in their day-to-day business operations, the benefits of unified communications are even more significant. UC-B helps to reduce "human latency" in business processes by integrating communication functions directly into the systems and applications that people use to do their jobs. UC-B can also proactively deliver information to the right people at the right time. Decisions can be made faster, products can be brought to market sooner, customer inquiries and problems can be resolved faster – all of which impact the bottom line in terms of improved competitive business position, reduced costs of doing business, increased or faster revenue generation, and increased profitability.


While user and personal productivity benefits are important, the real ROI comes from tying UC to the company’s business processes and enterprise goals. Early adopters of UC are transforming their businesses, and as a result, are saving thousands or even millions of dollars. Enterprises need to look at how UC provides benefits to the enterprise as a whole – especially in terms of reduced costs, increased sales, and improved customer service.

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