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.