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September 25, 2012

Sins of Omission in Explaining UC

Nine months ago, someone started a discussion on LinkedIn about how to define unified communications (UC) to a prospective customer in a simple, understandable way. You can see the many suggestions and comments tendered at this link.

I really didn’t try to read all the comments, but scanned through them enough to see what seem to be key points overlooked in trying to explain what "UC" really is these days.

I’ll save you the trouble of looking up my comment on that LinkedIn (News - Alert) discussion:

There were so many comments on this issue that I couldn’t really recite them all, but what I think most people are missing is that UC is so dependent on the individual end users involved, and their communication roles in different business processes. That means the needs of each individual end user will constantly vary, either as a contact initiator or as a contact recipient/respondent.

Then, it also becomes a dynamic issue of the individual end user’s situational (mobile, desktop) and preferential modes of communicating, as well as the endpoint device capabilities for multi-modal user interfaces and connectivity. With the rapid consumer adoption of multi-modal, mobile smartphones and tablets, UC-enablement is now a practical reality for everyone and every online application.

As one commentator pointed out, UC was all about her iPhone (News - Alert), which gives the user the multi-modal flexibility to exploit UC, however it is supported. Which brings me to the next key point: UC is not just about person-to-person contacts, but increasingly and explosively to automated applications that initiate contacts with people.

That now includes online “mobile apps” that exploit smartphones and tablets to deliver time-sensitive notifications and “alerts” with options for self-service applications and “click-for live assistance.”So with this kind of “BYOD” dependency on mobile devices, the responsibility of a business organization to support “UC” becomes very complex and difficult to do with internal, premises-based, hard-wired resources. It’s all about wireless connectivity and access to software applications of all kinds. Thus, the virtual “cloud” solutions (private, public) come into play as “virtual platforms” for UC-enabled (integrated) business process applications that will service various types of end users with mobile and remote desktop endpoints – including customers and customer-facing staff (agents, experts) that use contact center technologies.

The benefits of UC enablement (integrations) remain the same for business process performance and individual productivity, as suggested over and over again by the various comments. But when it comes to how UC will be implemented, the game has changed dramatically. The technology challenge, of course, is how to migrate existing business processes to the cloud-based, UC-enabled future from existing legacy technologies – particularly for real-time telephony and video options.

So don’t start off explaining how the technology works, but rather why and where it is needed and worthwhile doing for changing and improving different end user communication needs involved with particular business processes. Once that’s understood, proceed with implementation strategy options for planning purposes.

Wherever time-sensitive contacts from or to a person, inside or outside an organization are important to a mission-critical business process, that’s where the priority “hotspots” can be addressed with UC-enabled solutions.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

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