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The Collaborative-Ready Enterprise

The word collaboration is vying to be 2010’s most hyped term – but perhaps justifiably.

What is collaboration, and what does it have to do with unified communications? The truth is that collaboration tools, like Microsoft (News - Alert) SharePoint, are playing an increasingly larger role in communications-enabling business processes for both the enterprise and the contact center as part of a larger UC deployment.

Collaboration, like UC, has various definitions. Gartner (News - Alert), for example, looks at it as four segments – communication, coordination, communities and social interaction facilitation. The tools that support these segments include real-time (including conferencing, instant message, simple message syndication, Twitter) and non-real time (think wiki’s, data management, enterprise search, blogs, email) technology.

Integrating collaboration capabilities into enterprise and contact center business processes can yield a number of benefits for organizations including greater productivity, reduced costs and improved results within the enterprise, and between the enterprise and its customers.

Here are a few examples of how collaboration can provide benefits across the enterprise:

  • by leveraging video and Web conferencing tools to create virtual meetings or virtual training sessions;
  • by utilizing IM, presence, and screen sharing capabilities to resolve quickly issues across multiple locations or even across departments; and
  • by creating a central repository for employees that enables easy access to information and provides presence on the expert associated with that information if more data is required.

Plus, collaboration tools can help businesses move from a transaction-based contact center to a customer collaboration enterprise by:

  • tying results from post-call surveys or responses to emails and notifications to individual customer records;
  • leveraging portals and enterprise search to bring additional enterprise content and analytics into the contact center; and
  • using search capabilities to monitor customer conversations around key topics, such as “closing account”, by linking into customer facing emails, IMs, SMSs, Web conversations, and social networks.

While this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential scenarios in which collaboration tools can be applied with UC, new applications are emerging all the time.

It looks like there might be some validity to the hype this time. IT

Mike Sheridan is executive vice president of worldwide sales with Aspect (News - Alert) (

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