This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
Chances are that from the time that I finish writing this column and you begin to read it, you will have participated in at least one more social network, checked out the latest smartphone, or have been nonplussed as you’ve utilized a new mobile application or boarded a plane with your digital device. As consumers, we have been conditioned to get what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. As you look in the mirror, say hello to Consumer 2.0.
In the blink of an eye, consumer access to information, services and each other has gone through a massive transition. And, with the next blink, that innovation that was born in the consumer space has found its way to the enterprise in the form of unified communications and collaboration. And that is where things get interesting: at the intersection of Consumer 2.0 and what I’ll call Enterprise 2.0.
I’m defining Enterprise 2.0 as an environment that leverages real-time communications and Web 2.0 technologies. It is built on unified communications and collaboration capabilities such as rich presence, multimedia conferencing, desktop sharing, web portals and social communities. The environment provides a foundation for companies to better engage consumers, who’ve been playing with cool communications and Web 2.0 technologies for years. After all, who among us has not used consumer ratings sites to check out a hotel before booking, or read reviews on new digital devices before taking the plunge?
This consumer/enterprise intersection has the promise to allow really great company-customer communications to happen. We have the ability to embed experts into social spaces, to provide mobile-based applications for customer self-service, to use multimedia to enhance communications and, yes, even to let customers know more precisely when the cable guy will arrive.
So why aren’t we, the ranks of Consumer 2.0, experiencing some of these advances when we contact the cable company, or the credit card company, or the bank, or the manufacturer of the laptop that I spilled water on? But I digress. The reason is age old. The technologies of yesterday don’t serve us today. Most contact centers are running legacy hardware-based technologies that simply don’t leverage Enterprise 2.0. And changing customer-facing business processes is risky and painful, yet resisting change could prove worse.
Unified communications has paved the way for integrated, rich presence-powered voice, instant messaging, e-mail, SMS and more. Combine these real-time capabilities with customer facing collaboration tools that give companies the power to create engaging and informative consumer communities, and you’ve got the essential elements for positive change.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi