PREVIOUSLY: Are you ready for Unified Communications?
One goal of Unified Communications is to improve productivity by ensuring people spend less time juggling devices and playing phone tag, leaving more time to get things done.
Today's array of communications options can be counter-productive, says Peter Cox - business development manager of Cisco's business and technology group.
"The aim of Unified Communications is to make communications between people and people - as well as people and applications - simple and easy," Cox says.
"How many times have I sent someone an email, he didn't reply. So I gave him a call, it went to voicemail. So I rang his mobile, he didn't answer. So I sent him a text message and waited for him to get back to me. The aim of Unified Communications is to do away with all this. You just contact me through one point and the system then sends the message to me how I prefer to receive it. You don't have to manually try all my modes of communications, which is time consuming and expensive."
One of the key benefits of Unified Communications in the office environment is the easy with which users can seamlessly switch between modes of communication, Cox says.
"You might be chatting to someone via instant messaging and realise it would be easier to discuss the issue over the phone, so with a button press you could escalate that session to a voice call. If it's a complicated issue you can easily call up a shared desktop or whiteboard, while another button click could switch from voice to video conferencing. At any time it's easy to bring other people, either internally or from other organisations, in an out of the call. That's the kind of technology that can cut the decision-making process down to minutes rather than weeks and completely revolutionise the way your business operates."
"Unified Communications call also revolutionise the way you interact with your customers. Imagine I ring into a call centre to query the status of a loan application. The call centre operator can look at their Customer Relationship Management software and see icon displaying the status of the loan approval - perhaps discovering the loan hasn't been approved. Now what if we could use VoIP and presence to link the reason why it wasn't approved to the people who can solve that problem? If the loan hasn't been approved, imaging if the call centre operator could position their mouse over that icon and trigger a drop down menu displaying why it hadn't been approved, who is the organisation can deal with that problem and what the current presence status is for each of those people."
"Straight from the application they could launch a voice call, instant messaging session or email with the appropriate person in order to get the problem resolves as soon as possible. It's very easy to dynamically alter the contact list according the reason why the loan wasn't approved
- perhaps it's a bad credit rating of perhaps it's just a problem with the paperwork. This means the person answering the call doesn't have to know the whole company intimately, because the workflow is actually recorded in the system."