As all forms of person-to-person and process-to-person contacts converge under BYOD for multi-modal, mobile devices to accommodate the dynamic needs of mobile customers, it is getting more difficult to quantify business communications infrastructure requirements for any organization. That is why there is such a big interest in migrating to cloud-based, hosted and managed services, rather than investing in a traditional, premises-based telephony system that works with the wired PSTN. This is, however, an evolutionary transition for most organizations that have existing legacy PBX (News - Alert) and desktop technologies that still work for customer interactions and contact center operations.
The UC Strategies Experts were headed in the right direction when they defined unified communications as “communications integrated to optimize business processes.” That is a fundamental perspective of the technology for making both person-to-person and process-to-person communication applications more interoperable and integrated.
However, UC doesn’t describe what has become even more important to the adoption of technology, i.e., the different user interfaces and modalities for flexibly and seamlessly exploiting all forms of contact and interactions (both inbound and outbound) between people and with automated business process applications.
Correlating Business Processes with Specific Customers & Staff
Most importantly, it has now become more difficult for organizations to quantify their operational interaction/communication needs (functionality, network capacities, interfaces, etc.) for their many different end users, both inside and outside the organization. That includes business partners and consumers/customers, and particularly customer-facing personnel (agents, experts). However, the flexibility of private or public network (cloud) solutions can help the selective transition of an organization’s existing business communications to the next generation of what I have started to call business interactions. Communications flexibility is not just for a particular business process, e.g., often referred to as communications-enabled business processes, but must also include the personalized contact and interaction needs between customer assistance staff and individual customers involved with that specific process.
One way to plan for that perspective of more flexible and interoperable business interactions is to recognize that most business organizations in major vertical industries have similar business processes that need to integrate with communication applications on a personalized customer basis. That is where BYOD and interaction flexibility comes into play, i.e., each type of end user, involved in a key business process needs to be identified in terms of his or her individual role, as well as the communication facilities that he or she will utilize. That must also include roles of consumers, who are part of a business process. This will be the new way that business interaction requirements will have to be defined to exploit more flexible communication efficiencies for optimized business processes.
Start with a Business Process for Customer Interaction Needs
While the technology is still developing the new tools and services for business interactions, and marketing is looking for the right term to describe how both customers and automated business process applications will dynamically interact, business organizations of all sizes should start reviewing the new needs of mobile customers with smartphones, who will now be more multi-modal and flexible when it comes to business interactions with self-services or with live assistance. Within that context, new agent skill requirements and agent interfaces (visual, voice) must be identified and implemented.
In addition to making and responding to customer contacts, both self-service applications and customer-facing staff will also need access to more comprehensive, contextual information about an individual customer (history, status, etc.). So, start planning on IP-based click-for-assistance from online applications as the primary way that consumers will initiate contact with your business, using federated presence information for calls or IM to gradually replace legacy blind phone calls over the PSTN. That’s where telephony is going, and the migration is starting now.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi