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Addicted To Data? Today's Real-Time Electronic Display Technologies Feed Your Need

By Bob Brittan, Symon Communications


Understanding your business performance is paramount to profitability and success. Today's next-generation enterprise performance and productivity tools make electronic display technology as vital now for dynamically displaying the pulse of your operation as it was 25 years ago.

As business professionals, how do we communicate the important bits of information that are crucial to our business? Telephones and e-mail are still mainstream technologies for getting information out, but voice mail and e-mail often are deferred activities. By the time I get around to my e-mail and voice mail, the urgency may have already passed, turning into a lost opportunity. Let's explore real-time communications to large groups of employees or other individuals.

I like to say access to data is addictive. Once you or your agents and staff are exposed to real-time data, the need to know what is currently happening actually increases. Imagine everyone in the call center viewing the same real-time statistics about calls in queue, hold times, service level, etc., and being able to turn that performance information into actions that have a dramatic and positive impact on customer service. When agents and other staff are informed, employee morale increases as their contributions to the organization can be reflected in a real-time visual communication regarding all or specific metrics sent to select individuals.

There are three display technologies that accomplish this 'need to know': 1) wallboards; 2) televisions, LCD (liquid crystal display) and plasmas; and 3) the computer desktop. The type of information you wish to communicate, your audience and location play important roles in deciding which is the best single use or combination of technologies to implement for your business needs. Of course, all three can be used for crisis communication and other employee and corporate communication.

One of the oldest, most efficient and venerable devices to display meaningful data is the wallboard (other names include reader board, LED display and LED panel). There is a large need for wallboards in the contact center, but they are also found across vertical markets that rely on up-to-the-minute information, including financial, transportation, hospitality and many others. Companies can deploy the display anywhere there is a need to convey mission-critical information.

Wallboards have morphed into sophisticated 'intelligent' tools with multiple-color, sound, IP, wireless and Web capabilities. Connectivity of choice is typically TCP/IP taking advantage of modern cable plants. They are light in weight and available in standard or custom sizes to fit any need. Newer models even include a wireless option for positioning a wallboard when CAT-5 cable is not available or desired. A browser-based interface is often available for configuration tasks, eliminating yet another desktop application, simplifying maintenance activities for IT departments and reducing costs as well as resource investments.

One of the advantages of wallboards is that the LEDs are easy to read from long distances and different viewing angles, making them ideal for outsized areas with a large viewing audience such as a contact center. Used mainly for real-time data delivery, today's wallboards can also display live content, such as stock, news and weather feeds as well as contact center and other business information. This is done by splitting the screen area into customer-defined sectors that allow the end user the flexibility of communicating simple metrics or substantial amounts of business data to large audiences. Although capable of displaying some graphic content, there are other media that do a more robust job.

Televisions, LCD (liquid crystal display) and plasmas are quickly gaining in popularity, essentially as the price continues to drop. All three are used in contact centers, but the viewing area and clarity are substantially reduced when displaying more than one full screen of data. Primary uses of plasmas are for general employee communication, and they are often found within many organizations' lobbies greeting visitors and/or in the break room informing employees of the latest company business news or local current events.

The benefit of this technology is the use of real-time information combined with dynamic and colorful graphic content from live TV feeds (CNN, weather, etc.), custom message content or company announcements. Constantly updated content typically appeals to our need-to-know instinct. By strategically placing plasmas in vital areas of the organization, all employees are kept informed.

Technology that brings data to the desktop is enjoying a revival with the advent of an exciting new business application, the Web-based executive dashboard and agent-or-employee scorecard views of data. Contact centers and the enterprise benefit through Web-based, real-time reporting and monitoring that aligns business activity with strategic goals. Now there is access to all correct data and a standard presentation platform for all users. Executives can now track and manage their business in realtime. Enterprisewide data, including financial data, human resources, help desks and contact centers, can capture, consolidate and report in real time.

Other desktop applications offer pop-to-top features, displaying data only after a threshold has been met. Also, these applications can display specific data in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen to minimize viewing real estate. How does the information get to the display source? There is software known as middleware that 'collects' real-time and historical enterprise information. This software is capable of combining, manipulating and transforming data into meaningful, user-definable reporting on visual displays. Not only can it present information to wallboards, plasmas and the desktop, it is further used to schedule when and where the data are to be displayed. All three display venues can easily be used for crisis communication, dangerous weather and traffic conditions and internal posting of other ad hoc messages in conjunction with their automated message display functionality.

Employees want to do the right thing, but they need to receive information to be part of the team. With the continued growth and development of enterprise performance and productivity tools as well as electronic display technology, pushing information out to key audiences is easier than ever. Corporate objectives can be displayed anywhere there is an end point. Relevant daily news, important messages and stock prices can be viewed where everyone can see the information that is important to them, improving profitability and success every day. CIS

Bob Brittan is a Senior Product and Marketing Manager for Symon Communications (www.symon.com). He has more than 20 years' of experience in best-practices consulting for data and contact centers, with a focus on workforce and enterprise performance management. As a product manager, Brittan has brought powerful combinations of Web-based products to market, such as Symon Community workforce management and Symon Vista, a performance and productivity package transforming cohesive customer views into real-time performance and productivity metrics.

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