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Converging Business Processes, 2nd-Gen Presence Management, and Real-time People Contacts
[November 30, 2005]

Converging Business Processes, 2nd-Gen Presence Management, and Real-time People Contacts

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View
Business telecommunications are moving into the “open” world of software flexibility and virtual IP networking, enabling both people and business process applications to make contact with the “right people at the right time in the right way.” In particular, Instant Messaging (IM) is rapidly becoming a practical alternative to phone calls for real-time person-to-person business communications, and SIP is enabling presence- based “intelligent” and flexible modes of contact with people that could not be provided by traditional communication silos like TDM phone calls and mailbox messaging.  I like to characterize this shift to more dynamic personal contacts as “third-party multi-modal access control,” which goes beyond manual person-to-person contacts and traditional CTI-based call routing in TDM telephony systems.

Now that “VoIP,” IP telephony, and their cost-savings benefits are becoming accepted for the next generation technologies to replace TDM telephony network infrastructures, the telecommunications industry is rapidly shifting its focus to initiating voice contacts through software-based business applications as another seamless option of converged, “unified” communications.

It is also being reflected in the huge push being made by the big enterprise telephony providers like Avaya, Nortel, Siemens, Cisco, Alcatel, Mitel, etc., to line up application software developers (including IBM and Microsoft) to create new kinds of functionality for IP telephony that go beyond “dumb dial tone,” ringing call notification, and two-party voice conversations at the desktop. So, the promise of VoIP is not just cheap phone calls, but more efficient and effective ways to make voice communications a more “intelligent,” flexible, and time-efficient option for person-to-person contacts for all forms of business activity.
One of these new communication application developers is OnState Communications, headed by Wayne Andrews, a founder of network call routing technology provider GeoTel, which was acquired by Cisco in 1999. We talked with him about new capabilities that enterprises will realize from IP telecommunications that will add practical value to time-critical business operational processes.
What do you see as the fundamental benefit that IP telephony enables in business communications?
The improvement to computer-based telephony will be “intelligent communications,” which we used to call Computer Telephony Integration (CTI). It was very expensive and difficult to do with proprietary, hardware-oriented TDM telephone systems. CTI was therefore limited to large, mission-critical, call center applications, where per “seat” pricing could reach $5,000-$10,000, compared to $500 for a digital station phone. Furthermore traditional CTI only worked in a tightly controlled application environment, in contact centers with a small number of highly structured common applications. Enterprise TDM PBXs are basically “dumb switches” that only know the status of a wired telephone device, but nothing about the users owning the extension. With standards-based IP telephony, SIP, and presence, coupled with networked application software architectures like Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), all real-time communications are converging with automated business process applications to bring people more directly into the loop.
This brings the benefits of dynamic intelligence into all modalities of “dumb” communications in “Internet time” (i.e., where we can use open, Internet-oriented, real-time tools like VoIP, SIP/SIMPLE, XML, Web Services (SOA), Instant Messaging, etc.), in order to enable timely, flexible, and cost-effective contacts with the right people to resolve a variety of time-sensitive business problems.
Which people in the enterprise will benefit from such new technology?
Whereas the “formal” call center population of users is typically a relatively small percentage of the total enterprise organization, using the same technology for everyone needing to be accessible in real-time addresses the needs of a much larger population than traditional call centers. It will include key decision-makers, “action” workers (e.g. field sales, field service), and subject matter “experts,” who cannot be treated as formal call “agents” who answer phones.
As you reported in your Unified-View market research, more than 30% of a typical enterprise organization requires immediate or “as soon as possible” contact accessibility for time-critical situations. With the dramatic increase in wireless communications mobility, we see that percentage only increasing.
What is driving enterprise market interest in converged IP telecommunications?
The industry shift to VoIP, IP telephony, and perhaps most importantly, wireless mobility, is forcing the market to start planning their migration from legacy TDM telephony to converged, mobile, and multi-modal communications.  Most importantly, end-of–life cycles for TDM equipment will require replacement by “future-proof,” IP-based application servers and, in many cases, with new IP communication end point devices. Finally, real-time text messaging, i.e., Instant Messaging, wireless email, SMS, etc., are becoming practical alternatives to voice calls for business users. However, specific business needs in vertical markets will require the capabilities of all forms of communication contacts to efficiently and flexibly exploit the role of people as part of any business process.
Enterprise business globalization based on the Internet and web sites is also a driver for “virtualizing” traditional business communications. Not only is this requiring 24x7 support, but also making individual within enterprise organizations part of “virtual” resource groups that cross both geographical and inter-company boundaries.
What are the biggest barriers facing the converged telecommunications market for business organizations?
There are a number of obstacles facing the enterprise market. First and foremost is the evolutionary state of IP telephony and presence management technology. Open standards for interoperability across networks are still being developed, and product and service offerings for the enterprise are also works in progress. This, in turn, has resulted in making the enterprise market confused and uncertain about the future role of the desktop telephone, new communication technology capabilities, and their impact on the organization at all levels of the enterprise, Executives, operations management, IT management, and, of course, the end users.
Most enterprise technology management staffs don’t yet have the experience or skills to understand the changes that IP telecommunication convergence will bring, nor it’s impact on organizational requirements for new kinds of end user support. Coupled with the fact that legacy telephony systems are still very functional, the need for a strategic, “graceful” migration becomes more critical.  We see the impact of a combination of IP multi-modal telecommunications and presence management being as “disruptive” as the 1968 Carterphone decision to the business communications industry.
What specific business communication problems is OnState addressing with its technology?
We recognize that most time-sensitive business activities in the real world need to be resolved by key personnel, and making timely contact with the right people as quickly and as easily as possible provides the biggest payoff for business communications. However, the accessibility and availability of people for personal contact will always be dynamically variable and governed by the relative priorities of each individual’s situation and time commitments. As a result, people are often forced to waste valuable time guessing whom, how or when to speak to someone, leaving “urgent” voice messages when the call recipient is not available and resulting in the traditional delays of “telephone/message tag.” This, in turn, causes time-critical operational problems and business “deadlines” to be delayed, simply because people can’t easily and efficiently make contact.
While “first generation” IP-based presence management, multi-modal, and mobile real-time telecommunications (voice calls, instant messaging, immediate notifications, and message delivery) will enable users to initiate contact with specific individuals they know who happen to be available at that moment, it will not solve the business problems of more efficient time-sensitive contacts by activating both ends of the communication loop with specific people or with unknown individuals. Traditional call center technologies enable skills-based routing of calls to a group of available “agents,” but require a live caller to personally initiate the call and wait in a queue until someone becomes available.
We see 2nd generation business presence management being more pro-active in both initiating and coordinating contacts with people, both inside and outside the enterprise organization. Rather than having users manually and blindly retry various contact attempts with other individuals, the contact attempt can be automatically and “intelligently” initiated and/or coordinated through our patented IP technology to be completed “as soon as possible” (depending upon priorities). 
Furthermore, because critical operational problems can be automatically detected by enterprise system monitoring technologies, IP-enabled business applications can both initiate multi-modal notifications and follow-on person-to-person contacts based upon availability. This eliminates people delays in detecting and responding to time-critical situations.     
When you can make people contacts more efficient by automating immediate "trigger" event notifications that are dynamically flexible for individual recipient contact needs and circumstances, you can then minimize loss and damage or insure meeting deadlines that are associated with gaining revenue. Even when people need to initiate such contacts, the same benefits accrue to the problem resolution.
What new technology is OnState offering?
We are providing patented, standards-based software to make presence management more proactively “intelligent” for business-critical contacts with people, whether intra-enterprise, inter-enterprise, or with customers of service providers. This is incorporated into OnState’s 2nd-generation presence management system we call the Intelligent Communications Server (ICS).  This technology supplements traditional call management applications that are migrating to IP telephony technology, and includes the following elements:
·“Pending Communications” ä Management
Enables incomplete contact attempts to be personally controlled by both initiators and recipients in terms of relative priorities and automatic re-initiation when all parties are “available. “ Our presence technology monitors “personal queues” of both parties to activate a contact attempt when both parties are ready to communicate in real time. However, since personal contacts can be multi-modal, not just voice calls, this means some contacts can also be multi-tasked between real-time voice and textual interfaces (IM).
·Business Process Integration
With Web Services integration and today’s Services-Oriented Architectures (SOA), business applications can act as third-party initiators of pending communication contacts between people when they become available, based upon pre-defined “trigger” events.  These business-triggered events can become part of the personal queues for relevant people or organizations, so that the events are handled regardless of who is currently present and according to the priorities at the time they occur. In effect, business applications can play the role of a third-part “contact initiator” directly or indirectly to any human “contact recipients.” 
·Skills Routing and Application Scripting Tools
The ICS supports customized contact initiation with selected individuals or any member of a predefined group of people for specific business process applications through its high-level, graphical application generator tools. This enables contact initiation to be automatically and more quickly activated by application monitoring processes that can target the most available and qualified personnel available in the most time-efficient way they can be contacted. It should be noted that, just as with Business Process Integration, personal queues play a big role in making Skill routing effective and efficient to implement.
ICS application scripting exploits the dynamic capabilities of a DOM Tree Structure i.e., a Document Object Model that is a platform- and language-neutral interface that will allow programs and scripts to dynamically access and update “Presence State” on a system wide basis. DOM works properly on all browsers and servers and on all platforms.. This capability enables the ICS to achieve dramatic improvements in the ease and effectiveness of business process integration.
·Communication Activity Reporting
The ICS provides detailed contact-level reporting and all stages of contact processing in all modalities for both individuals and groups. This means that what your Unified-View has called communications “micro-productivity” and “macro-productivity” can be tracked and quantified for service-level and operational management metrics.
How will you be marketing your technology to the enterprise markets?
We recognize that our patented presence management technology must interwork with all forms of existing personal communications, so we are looking for strategic alliances with the leading providers of IP-based enterprise communications. We have already entered into discussions with the enterprise market leaders who dominate both TDM and IP telephony technology for business users and customer contact applications. What we have developed is a value-add capability that enterprise buyers will be able to obtain through their traditional CPE and Service Providers. In addition to these channels, we are pursuing Application Developers and Systems Integrators for building powerful presence aware, workflow applications that communicate efficiently with people.  Our technology can differentiate their traditional application offerings, while providing unique, customized solutions and horizontal growth.
Unified-View Commentary
We have long been expecting the potential of SIP and presence management to make end-to-end business communications more efficient. While the manually controlled “communication dashboards” of new presence management servers are indeed useful for contact initiators, they don’t complete the contact loop with contact recipients for failed real-time attempts. Moving beyond simply leaving a voice message when a call cannot completed, OnState’s concept of “Pending Communications” management will help make time-critical person-to-person contacts more efficient and manageable.   
What do you think?
Is this concept useful for everyone in the enterprise or needed mainly by key personnel who are decision-makers and action-takers? How will this technology work across different enterprise organizations in a federated manner, especially for application-initiated contacts? Will service providers play a role in supporting enterprise operations, especially for mobile staff that will be using wireless carrier services? Will this technology be useful for outbound customer response contacts? How will the concept of “pending communications” work for messaging contacts? How will this technology help the growing regulatory requirements for tracking all communications activities? 
Let us know your opinions by sending them to [email protected]
Listen to the Joint "Virtual" Panel Discussions of Enterprise Voice and Email Messaging Conferences
Sponsored by Avaya and Nortel, three of the joint panel discussions between the voice messaging IAMP and email Messaging Forum conferences were open to remote audience participants and speakers to participate with the conference attendees and more than doubled the size of the audience for those sessions. Participating providers on these virtual panels included Avaya, Nortel, Siemens, Microsoft, Cisco, Adomo, and IP Unity, They viewed all forms of enterprise messaging as increasingly significant elements of converged business telecommunications, requiring more seamless integration with telephony.
To hear the actual "virtual" panel discussions on unified mobility, presence, migration, and consolidated administration go to:

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