If you haven’t noticed it yet, discussions about UC implementation have slowly, but surely, been switching from just employee BYOD issues to Customer/Consumer BYOD needs. In that context, we are starting to see more interest in how mobile customer services will be provided that are UC-enabled for both proactive notifications from automated business process applications and for flexible, “click-for-assistance” from online self-service apps. Those two capabilities are having a dramatic impact on traditional call center operations and the use of voice-only telephone interactions and old IVR applications. In addition, the role of video and social messaging are increasingly becoming important modes of customer interaction under the UC umbrella.
When it comes to “business” communications and interactions, we now have to look at an individual user’s needs differently, i.e., in the context of different business processes that are all becoming more automated. That means that every end user, whether inside or outside of an organization, who is involved in a particular key business process, may have different UC needs for participating and communicating with the other participants. So, the starting point for UC implementation planning really has to move up from just looking at all end users who might benefit from UC flexibility, to looking at key business “use cases” and the specific types and roles of all end users involved. That could include traditional call center agents, subject matter experts, customers, and any other type of user who can get involved in the interaction process.
What does that really mean for practical UC implementation planning?
It means NOT starting with cost-reduction benefits first, but operational performance requirements and revenue impacts as objectives, THEN evaluating implementation options, i.e., premise-based vs. cloud services, or hybrid approaches for a graceful migration. Starting UC planning this way won’t be easy, because who really knows which “use cases” in a particular vertical market or in a particular organization are most important to implement first? Do they all the end user participants?
A good starting point will be to look at customer support needs and legacy call center/contact center activities that can benefit from mobile interactions. You have to start with identifying the problems before you can talk about the solutions. Very often, it will be useful to utilize third-party expertise to help identify and quantify those problems, particularly if they are common within a particular vertical industry. Not only will they be able to provide valuable insight to basic operational problems that rely on effective communications, but will also be familiar with solution alternatives. They will also be able to coordinate implementation and “heavy lifting” by other third-party resources like System Integrators (SIs), since most organizations won’t have internal resources and expertise to deal with the complexities of mobility and UC.
That is one of the reasons you are now seeing most UC technology vendors offering their own “Professional Services” to their customers to help plan implementations of mobile UC applications and “cloud” based UCaaS. Of course, independent consultants will be more objective in terms of selecting new providers of technologies and services to replace legacy investments. On the other hand, the vendors may be more able to quickly provide their existing installed base of customers with a graceful migration path from their old technologies to new UC capabilities. So, pick your poison!
It should be noted that one of the leading international consultancies for UC implementation planning, Dimension Data, has recognized this need to educate and support business management, not just IT, as a starting point for implementation planning to a UC environment. You will soon see more about their approach on the UC Strategies web site.
(See commentary on their recent 2013 UC Survey at:
As I have long pointed out, mobility is the biggest driver for individual end user UC flexibility, and consumer BYOD is only accelerating that need.