Originally, person-to-person communications required the contact initiator and the contact recipient to use the same kind of endpoint device and a single mode of communication. That applied to both real-time telephony, as well as asynchronous messaging. In the beginning, contact addressing with people was also location-based, until wireless came into play. Today, we are seeing communications becoming both mode and location independent, as well as enabling business processes becoming contact initiators that can generate event-based, personalized “notification” messages.
Whether it is an automated business process or a person that initiates a message to a person, UC flexibility at the recipient’s end is still important as mobile users become accessible anywhere, any time, any way. Regardless how a contact is initiated, it is still important for the recipient to maintain control over how a voice/video call, IM, or message is handled. After all, it is the recipient’s time, preferences, or situational environment that will dictate how the contact should be handled, not just what the contact initiator expects.
We must therefore look at two kinds of application-based communications, one where the application allows some form of contextual contact initiation, e.g., “click-to-contact” a person in the initiator’s choice of mode, the other kind of application-based contact is where it is the business process, not a person, that proactively initiates a contact with a person. The latter is better known as “CEBP” (Communications Enabled Business Process). CEBP has been rightfully included in Gartner’s UC Magic Quadrant 2014 report discussed by Marty Parker on this web site.
However, most of the UC offerings do not yet seem to provide much CEBP capability, and are primarily focused on person-to-person contacts. We should expect to see more as customer contact centers become “Interaction Centers” for mobile and visual self-service applications (rather than voice-only IVR) and shift to more dynamically flexible and contextual “click-for assistance” over an IP network, rather than placing a phone call over the PSTN.
What must be remembered is that the flexibility needs of mobile communications and BYOD apply not only to internal employees, but also to external business partners and increasingly important to consumer/customer interactions. What I describe as “Mobile Customer Service,” is now becoming a mainstay for UC enablement, not only for “click-for-assistance” options in self-service enterprise mobile apps, but also for delivery of personalized, proactive notifications to BYOD end users. So, both forms of CEBP communications are ideal candidates for mobile UC flexibility, one for contact initiation, the other for contact recipients.
For this reason, planning for UC must be far more than simply replacing desktop telephony systems, but must move into the domain of mobile business process applications that will become the contextual starting points for UC-enabled, person-to-person contact flexibility.