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The Strategic Role for Unified Analytics in UC

August 15, 2011

Jim Burton just wrote a provocative blog on NoJitter entitled “The Next Phase in Communications.” It referred to the role of analytics in the evolution of Unified Communications. Labeling that capability as “UC-A,” it “adds analytics and metrics to business processes.” With that thought in mind, I see “Unified Analytics” as being key tools to both UC planning and managing effective and efficient business process performance wherever people are involved.

One of the biggest challenges for any size unified communications implementation is to plan for its selective use in high-value business processes. That includes knowing which end users will require which UC capabilities and which business applications will also be involved through CEBP integrations. So, this means understanding where both person-to-person contact activities need the flexibility of UC, as well as which business process applications need to initiate contacts with which people and how.

Unfortunately, no one may really know what is needed and where, when it comes to UC planning. Compound that with the sad economy and existing legacy technologies, it is hard to make a quantifiable case for UC benefits, either “UC-U” or “UC-B.” Although everyone talks about proper and selective UC implementation planning, there really have been no tools to do that easily.

As Burton points out, “contact center” technology has been improving its “analytics” capabilities for a number of years, primarily to evaluate customer satisfaction and customer-facing agent performance. Such analytics have started to move beyond just call handling to other forms of customer contacts and interactions. I believe the technology has reached a point where analytics can play a bigger role in UC implementation, by providing the tools to evaluate all current business processes and communications activities in order to quantify and prioritize UC planning for everyone in the organization as well as those outside of the organization that may be involved with a business process.

The timing for such a “universal” view of unified business communications is most appropriate as the rapid adoption of multi-modal smartphones means that ALL end users will be able to benefit effectively from the flexibility of UC and the integration with business process applications through CEBP. It is just that organizations need to know where best to selectively start their UC migration, whether via hosted, “cloud”-based services, traditional internal technologies, or a hybrid combination of both.

“Analytics,” like “UC,” covers a lot of territory that is continually expanding beyond the limitations of traditional telephony communications, but has not really penetrated the market much beyond traditional call center operations. However, its potential value from a number of management perspectives is starting to be recognized. The lack of standards and definitions for UC capabilities hasn’t helped the problem either.  I think it is now time that analytic tools can help management understand who is doing what in all business process communications and lead the way to practical UC implementation planning.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Art Rosenberg, a veteran of the computer and communications industry, contributes his column, The Unified-View to unified communications. To read more of Art’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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