Collaboration - discussUC
Innovation in Medical Collaboration Saturday, 12 June 2010 06:35Written by Bob Preston
Enabling Collaboration in Marketing Friday, 30 April 2010 01:18Written by Bob Preston
Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at Aberdeen’s CMO Summit 2009 in San Francisco on the topic of enabling collaboration in marketing teams. It was a fun experience and the audience asked some great questions. In most organizations, marketing as a line of business (functional department) has one of the highest demands for effective collaboration due to the creative and iterative nature of every day work flows. Following is a quick synopsis of my presentation I gave yesterday to Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and marketing leaders from companies with some of the world's leading brands.
- Global Team Meetings
- Virtual 1:1s with CMO
- Strategic Planning Sessions
- Creative Process
- Project and Event Management
- Product Definition, Launch, and Life Cycle Management
- Design Review and Approval
- Editor and Analyst Briefings
- Sales Training
- Customer Demos and Presentations
- Partner Meetings and Councils
Unified Communications Down Under Monday, 17 August 2009 17:30Written by Melissa Chotiner
From www.BroadbandIgnite.com, written by Alex Doyle, Sr. Director of Solutions at BroadSoft
Congratulations to Telstra, which recently announced integration of their TIPT (Telstra IP Telephony) Hosted PBX service with Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS).
Telstra and Microsoft today unveiled Australia’s first hosted IP telephony service integrated with Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS). This will enable Australian organisations to place high definition Telstra IP Telephony calls directly from applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office Communicator and Microsoft SharePoint.
The new offering of Microsoft OCS on Telstra IP Telephony (TIPT) services means customers can now see at a glance if their contacts are on a phone call, busy or available to be contacted. If available, the user simply clicks on their name to initiate and then manage the telephone call.
Telstra Product Management Executive Director, Mr Philip Jones, said that until now Microsoft OCS integration was limited to customers with premise-based IP telephony services and the new service would improve efficiency by coupling the enhanced features offered by Telstra IP Telephony with certain Microsoft programs.
It’s a great solution. And one of the things that’s overlooked about this, I think, is that from an operations perspective, it’s actually quite simple. Businesses get Unified Communications by blending Telstra’s Hosted PBX solution, which is already live and in market, with Microsoft’s enterprise applications, which are already live and in market.
It’s pretty common to see people talk about UC in either a “forklift” way (‘replace all your stuff with all my stuff, and then you’ll have UC’), or in a “future” way (‘just wait….in Release XYZ you’ll see UC in a whole new way’)….so it’s nice to see Telstra UC-enabling their existing customers (with Microsoft app integration, mobile integration, high-definition voice, and more) today, using the BroadSoft infrastructure already in place.
Hosted Versus Premises - It's not Black and White Friday, 14 August 2009 00:07Written by Melissa Chotiner
But – sometimes these discussion threads tend to have diminishing returns. You see people digging in their heels on either the ‘pro-hosted’ or ‘pro-premises’ positions.
This kind of black-and-white mindset, I think, misses three interesting trends in our industry.
First, we’re seeing a convergence of hosted and premises solutions in the SIP Trunking space, where service providers complement premises systems with network-hosted applications. Service providers who offer only ‘plain connectivity’ trunking have a serious customer churn risk – with today’s ease of portability, voice-only SIP trunks are quickly becoming a commodity. But service providers that “UC-Enable” their SIP Trunks – CBeyond boasts an average of seven UC apps per customer, and an enviously low churn rate – are able to lock in and monetize their SIP trunking base.
Second, it’s telling that a lot of the historically premises-oriented vendors have been leading the charge into hosted UC. Whether it’s Cisco and Webex Connect, Microsoft’s Hosted Messaging & Collaboration, or Lotus Live – I think the rapid move towards hosted apps from these companies is a clarion call that the hosted UC space is absolutely the real thing.
But at the same time, these teams aren’t abandoning premises solutions either. Microsoft’s “Power of Choice” message has been particularly accurate here, I think. Customers are going to be able to consume apps from enterprise-hosted apps, service-provider hosted apps, or Microsoft-hosted apps – there’s not just one correct answer.
Third, we’re seeing a rise in “virtual overlay services”, where UC apps are provided “in the cloud” independent of the actual end user phones. Google Voice is probably the most famous of these, but certainly service providers around the world have been providing (and monetizing) “Virtual Front Office”-type apps with BroadWorks for years. These apps are demonstrating that there’s a business for hosted UC services that complement, not replace premises systems.
So – “Hosted vs. Premises” doesn’t represent the debate very well, and could actually lead to people missing out on some huge market opportunities.
Impressing the Boss is Always a Good Thing Tuesday, 28 July 2009 10:39Written by Dean
Author: Jamie Ryan, CIO at Aspect
There are certain infrastructure upgrades and decisions that you need to consider as you develop your unified communications (UC) strategy. One of the biggies is the use of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunking.
For Aspect, SIP Trunking was a no brainer. Our company was looking at Microsoft® Office Communications Server 2007 R2 as a way to consolidate some of our unwieldy technology and streamline processes, but we were also extremely focused on potential cost savings. SIP Trunking was a logical way for us to take significant costs out of our telecommunications activities.
To us, one of the really appealing elements of SIP Trunking was that it enabled Aspect to completely consolidate our voice infrastructure and still look “local” when our infrastructure was really thousands of miles away. This is resulting in a much more efficient use of capacity. And, in doing so, we have been able to get rid of lots of hardware (which as you know is expensive to maintain), as well approximately 70 percent of our separate voice, video and data connections at remote sites. I love the idea that we only need to manage one WAN connection for each of our sites, instead of various voice, video and data circuits.
And, my boss (our CEO) is pretty psyched about the fact that Aspect has seen a significant drop in local and long distance costs because of reduced number of circuits and better usage rates as a result of our use of SIP Trunking. We expect this to amount to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings over the next several months and years.
In addition, with all of the consolidation, employees have been able to keep Direct Inward Dial (DID) lines. This provides improved call handling flexibility and efficiency. We have also seen better call quality of voice-based IP communications because each SIP Trunk is a dedicated “channel”.
As you can see, SIP Trunking and OCS are already providing Aspect with some pretty impressive benefits. But, I am convinced that the real value will be in what lies ahead –federated multimedia communications. What role do you think SIP Trunking will play in getting us there?
CRM and Unified Communications Sunday, 28 June 2009 14:00Written by Sandra M. Eisenberg
My last blog focused on how Unified Communications (UC) can empower the contact center by directing nontraditional call center calls to the center. Most people think of UC as a way of combining multiple contact points for one person to a single point of contact (thus John Smith’s office phone, cell phone, email, IM, etc. can all be directed to “ring” on his cell phone). This is the common way UC is explained, and it can be very valuable — but it can also result in TMI (too much information).
Everyone may be created equal, but we can’t give all of our customers, peers, bosses, and the world at large equal access to us or we’d never get any work done. We need to prioritize who can contact us and how. Thus with UC we can identify specific people (our boss, our spouse, our key customer) to reach us at our #1 end point (maybe that cell phone) while other important people get directed to voice mail — or as I pointed out in my last blog — this is a perfect opportunity to now direct those folks to a contact center where an inside sales rep or pool admin can hopefully handle their needs in one call (OCR = one call resolution).
So there is a natural marriage between UC and CC (contact center).
Where does CRM come into play?
CRM (customer relationship management) has become such a muddied term. It has become far too generic. To some it does mean contact center software (and it can be that), to some it means the software or software as a service (SaaS) that outside sales reps use to keep track of their accounts, where they are in the sales cycle, etc. — and that is a good definition. . .but CRM is much bigger than that.
CRM is really broken into two broad categories: “front office CRM” and “Back office CRM.”
Front office CRM are the applications that actually touch the customer directly — the voice on the phone in the contact center, an internet interface where they can place an order, customer service (again online or over the phone) or the live customer service rep (CSR). Any part where the customer is directly interfacing with your company is a form of “front office CRM.”
And a logical touchpoint for UC and CRM to link.
The holy grail of the contact center for years has been OCR – one call resolution. Any problem that isn’t resolved in one call, or any sale that can’t be closed in one call (”we have an internet special where for the same price you are paying today you can add XYZ. . .”) costs lots of money. Any customer service call that takes too long or requires “follow up” also begins to alienate your customers making them more inclined to leave you for another firm.
UC can dramatically improve the goal of OCR — whether that “one call” is a phone call, an internet access or even your face to face outside sales rep.
It all has to do with the “hand off.” Inside a contact center this can be done with intelligent routing (which is really what UC is in a larger scheme of things). We route the call to the most logical, not the first available, agent. With UC we are now moving beyond the barrier of the contact center and able to route the call to best person no matter what department they work in, or even WHERE THEY ARE physically.
Setting up skills routing takes time, but the rewards are immense both in customer satisfaction and in cost reduction.
All of this so far focuses on the connectivity between front office CRM and UC, but back office CRM can increase this cost reduction by quantum factors. Using a data warehouse (or perhaps data mart) to identify your most profitable customers you may choose to always route them to a specific department or person — not blindly treating all customers the same but giving platinum treatment to platinum customers.
By contrast your lower value customers (in margins) can always be routed through an IVR (interactive voice response) unit and routed to newer agents. . . The dirty little reality in sales is that there are some customers that are not worth having because the amount of work they require (and work = expense to your company) may mean you actually lose money by having them as a customer. Back end CRM identifies who is profitable and thus worth retaining.
One to one marketing is a myth. We do not market to all of our prospects and customers in the same way and we shouldn’t. Back end CRM’s information on customer profitability can help determine who we route to whom in our dynamic, unified communications world.
This blog is speaking in generalities — as if we had all the money and time in the world to link all of these disparate systems together. The good news is that many of these systems are already begining to be linked — Cisco with Salesforce.com, Aspect with Microsoft, Avaya and SAP, Nortel offers integration to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and implemented Dynamics internally. The idea is to take advantage of the technologies you may already have in place such as a legacy Siebel implementation maybe using AT&T’s Siebel Solutions offer) to improve relations with your customers and business partners through a streamlined “one call resolution” that goes far beyond the silos of “outside sales,” “engineering,” “customer service” across your business.