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August 07, 2008

Real Business Payoffs for UC Lie in 'Deadlines'

By Art Rosenberg


If you have been keeping up with all the blogs about the return on investment (ROI) for business unified communications (UC) and how to plan a practical migration to UC, you will have noticed that everyone is emphasizing the importance of communicating with people relative to specific business process performance. That has become the centerpiece for prioritizing UC implementations because of value to business operations.
 
This view logically highlights the communication delays (“human contact latency”) caused by people in business process workflows as “hotspots” that can be significantly improved with the flexibility and intelligence that UC applications bring to the business operations table.
 
UC benefits should result in generally faster and better business process performance, while also reducing costs, generate revenues faster, but, perhaps most importantly, minimize any losses or penalties that delays and missed “deadlines” could cause. It is the “missed deadline” penalty that could be a key consideration that may get overlooked in UC implementation planning by a business organization. This benefit is the kind of business productivity ROI (“UC-B (News - Alert)”) that will get the attention of enterprise management because it could have much greater potential impact than just reducing operational costs, end user personal productivity, and even customer satisfaction to help justify the migration to UC.
 
Normal Business Communications vs. “Deadlines”
 
Wherever there are delays in operational performance because of difficulties in making contact with a person, UC communication flexibility and “intelligence” will help “streamline” any standard business process. The ROI from reducing such “human contact latency” will vary depending upon the value of the business process itself, as well as the amount of improvement that can be realized from UC. However, if there is no big penalty caused by a communication delay, e.g., a day or two, the benefits to a business process will be marginal. 
 
Typical workflow planning allows for reasonable human interactions and task performance, both as individuals and as part of a distributed group. Should there indeed be a significant payoff in faster revenues or lower operational costs (including lower headcount, reduced overtime, etc.), than there is a good case for implementing UC just to “streamline” a basic business process.
 
Where Do “Deadlines” Fit In?
 
Usually, a “deadline” problem arises because something happens unexpectedly or goes wrong in a normal business process. So, although it is something that can happen for a variety of reasons, it is usually not part of a “routine” procedure, but an exception that must be dealt with differently,
 
While it is useful to streamline normal business processes, it really may be more critical to avoid and minimize any process that can be significantly impacted by a “deadline” problem. The consequences of failing to meet a deadline situation can range from loss of life (health care) to loss of business (loss of a sale or customer), or increased costs (penalties, overtime, etc.). So, we see communication priorities escalating and UC capabilities being exploited as soon as a deadline issue surfaces within a business process.
 
Deadlines can be monitored by either people or automated processes, and both should be able to trigger the appropriate response process, including notifying all the appropriate people involved as soon as possible. That is where the flexibility of multimodal communications and mobile devices come into a play to minimize the “human contact latency” of failed call attempts and non-delivery of messages. 
 
So, when looking at business process efficiency, every organization should be looking at both “normal” work” flow operations, as well as the “exception” cases where bigger losses could result because of missed dedlines. Automated monitoring and reporting of such exception situations will be a step forward in minimizing the delays of human involvement to prevent or remedy operational problems. However, that is really only the beginning of a solution that requires people to be more communication-accessible and responsive as possible, and not just through voice connections either!
 
What Do You Think?
You can contact me at: artr@ix.netcom.com or (310) 395-2360.
 
Confused About Implementing “UC?”
The experts at UCStrategies.com published a comprehensive UC eBook that focuses very heavily on defining the various components of UC and how to systematically plan enterprise migrations from current communications technologies to a UC environment. Take a look and see if it answers your questions!
 

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Art Rosenberg, a veteran of the computer and communications industry, contributes his column, The Unified-View to TMCnet. To read more of Art’s articles, please visit his columnist page.



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