By Shelley Veazie
The internet has become an integral part of our everyday lives, both at work at home. However, there are applications that still need some work. The internet’s ever-growing and ever-changing technologies seem to be making our lives easier, but there is still some room for improvement.
Unified Communications Enters the World’s Business Stage
Unified Communications (UC) is a term that describes the combination of applications and technologies to provide one “unified” portfolio to customers. UC has been heralded as the next wave of change to internet applications. For one supplier to provide one package of applications that are integrated with one platform and that work together to provide the most robust application set yet. The concept is that of a “one stop shop.” The applications available in UC provide real-time and non-real-time communication services. The services available with UC packaging include, but are not limited to: Internet Protocol (IP) telephony, presence, call control, speech control, instant messaging (IM)/chat, conferencing (voice and video), voicemail, email, SMS and fax.
The Benefits of UC
The primary benefit of UC is identifying presence which can speed up many kinds of business processes. So, for example, instead of leaving phone messages and playing phone tag with a business associate, employees can look at the presence status of the person that they are trying to reach and if that person is available, they can instant message for an immediate conversation. If that associate is not available, they can contact someone else for help. This certainly increases efficiency as employees are spending far less time trying to get a hold of one another and, even more importantly, questions can be answered quickly so that decisions and actions can be taken immediately, rather than delaying until a return phone call is received. This allows business to resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
From the contact center perspective, UC empowers agents to locate experts to resolve customer issues that are beyond their scope. This allows contact centers to increase their first call resolution rates and reduce operating expenses by efficiently answering customer inquiries with one quick transfer. While this immediate access benefits the call center and customer service departments, the engineering and application development departments might not be so keen about being at the call center’s beck and call. And this is a legitimate argument. How would developers and engineers have time to do their jobs if they are constantly being interrupted to handle call center inquiries? And, given that the time of the engineer or developer is worth so much more than that of the call center agent, it is difficult to reconcile the interruption. For this reason, there has been some lag in the pick up of UC in many business applications, but the potential is there and once the operational kinks are worked out of the chain, UC is likely to become a mainstay in many businesses.
UC to the Enterprise
UC could potentially be a game changer. This technology could change the way employees communicate with each other and the way enterprises interact with their customers. However, a lot of work needs to be done before we are to that point. UC vendors need to better communicate the potential value to the enterprise. Since the possibilities are endless, it is important that UC vendors provide as many possible scenarios to their enterprise customers because not all of the potential applications for UC will work for each enterprise customer. The uses will be unique to the business itself and every enterprise customer different.
Cisco Call Manager and Cisco Unified Communications Manager are among the leading UC offerings in the industry.
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