The recent UC Summit that was organized by UC Strategies was highlighted by defining productivity benefits at two different levels. One was for the individual end user who gained personal time-savings and convenience from UC technologies (UC-U), the other was the performance efficiency of a business process in terms of both quality and speed of process completion (UC-B). Some of this was described in the eBook, Unified Communication Cutting Through the Hype, that I and my UC Strategies colleagues published earlier this year.
While both perspectives are valid and important, there is a gap between the two. Because most business processes involve more than one person, it becomes critical to business process performance that all the individuals who are involved in the process (work flow) do so as efficiently as possible. That means that they must be able to communicate as quickly and flexibly as possible, either as as contact initiators or contact recipients/respondents, so that there is no unnecessary delay in the process as a whole. If a key decision maker or action taker should be delayed in communicating, the whole process will consequently suffer a delay. So the impact of personal productivity (UC-U) can also impact (UC-B).
I recognized this years ago when first looking at the need for UC. I suggested that UC-B performance must take into account the performance of individual users who can cause such delays to the performance of the “group” as a whole, especially in time-critical situations. Having alternative resources to fill the human availability gap is a typical business strategy that has long been used in call centers, for example, to handle real-time phone calls. However, whenever there is a requirement for specific individual, then such an individual has to maximize their communication accessibility through UC flexibility for the benefit of the group and the business process.
“Group productivity” or “UC-G” can be described as the flexible accessibility to receive and respond to timely information and people contacts as quickly as possible. UC capabilities, coupled with mobile accessibility, will maximize UC-G for the user as well as the business process. For this reason, it will be important to identify specific users who are key to a high priority business process and insure that they are fully equipped to exploit the benefits of UC technologies. So, for example, doctors and nurses who must be notified that a patient is in a life-threatening state, cannot afford to be without mobile devices that allow them to be accessed by people and information wherever they are. Business situations have similar kinds of demands when there deadlines or costly problem situations that need to be fixed as quickly as possible to minimize losses.
UC flexibility has to extend beyond the business premises and include people outside the organization who are involved or affected by the situation. This means that premise-based UC alone will not be adequate when customers and business partners need to be involved in a time-sensitive business process. UC-G will therefore have to involve capabilities like “federated presence” in order to deal with such outside contacts as effectively as possible. Similarly, metrics to track communication efficiency with people inside or outside the organization will be useful in identifying UC needs that the organization doesn’t have direct control over, but which will still impact the organization’s business process performance.
What do you think? We welcome your comments.