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Irwin Lazar
Irwin Lazar is the Vice President and Service Director at Nemertes Research, where he manages research operations, develops and manages...
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Irwin Lazar | March 26, 2009 |

 
   

Does VOIP Plus Web 2.0 Equal Three?

Does VOIP Plus Web 2.0 Equal Three? At VoiceCon, we'll explore the crossroads of Web 2.0 and enterprise communications.

At VoiceCon, we'll explore the crossroads of Web 2.0 and enterprise communications.

At next week's VoiceCon conference I have the opportunity to moderate a session entitled "Web 2.0 and Enterprise Communications--Fad or the Future?" on Wednesday morning. The goal of this session is to explore the crossroads of Web 2.0 and enterprise communications to determine if and when they intersect, run parallel, or go off in different directions.In getting ready for this session, as well as helping with program development for June's Enterprise 2.0 event in Boston, I've been trying to map out the relationship between Web 2.0 and communications. On the one hand I've talked to some who believe that Web 2.0-based tools such as Twitter and other micro-blogging/social messaging services will replace or augment UC. "Why spend millions on beefing up your phone system when nobody will use it in five years?" goes the refrain. The counter-view sees Web 2.0 services as augmenting UC, enabling organizations to integrate UC services with social networks to improve the overall ability of workers to collaborate and communicate both within and outside of their organizations.

I believe this latter argument is the one that will resonate the most within enterprise IT and UC planning groups. Much of the discussion here on NoJitter, as well as in conferences and forums around the world, is on building a solid business case for UC. In this age of challenging economic times, the argument to deploy UC because it improves "productivity" fails to resonate with those ultimately responsible for approving IT spending decisions. During our latest round of interviews of IT executives on their UC plans, we're increasingly hearing about UC projects being delayed, or shelved altogether for lack of a solid business case with demonstrable short-term ROI.

One area where we've found that UC can provide a strong business case is in applying UC applications to improve specific business processes. A few years ago we coined a term called "JITFTE" translating to "Just in Time, Fetch the Expert." The concept behind JITFTE is that organizations can leverage UC services such as presence, click-to-call, and meet me conferencing to respond more rapidly to events and opportunities, such as sales leads, customer requests, or industry happenings that require an immediate response. The principle of JITFTE is to enable individuals to quickly find subject matter experts that can help them solve a particular challenge at a moment in time. Thus JITFTE replaces e-mail, voicemail, and phone tag with the ability to find an expert, tap that expert, and join that expert to a call. A common example is the bank branch manager who has an opportunity to sell a customer in the branch a financial product, but needs an expert at that moment in time to answer specific customer questions or risk losing the sale.

But the challenge in implementing JITFTE is "identifying" the expert. Some organizations we've talked to use a manual approach based on role. Those in a particular support or product management group are classified by role as subject-matter experts for a particular offering. But this approach has flaws. Just because someone works in a particular group doesn't mean that they are the expert for all concerns.

Instead, organizations can leverage Web 2.0 social networking concepts to allow their own workers or customers to tag each other as being experts on a particular product, service, or issue. They can use customer- or employee-driven rating systems to determine who are the "go-to" people for a particular issue. Consider an approach where rather than just randomly going to the "loan servicing" group and asking who is available to assist on a call, a customer service agent could search a social networking system for "15-year ARM," quickly find all those tagged as experts in that product, see ratings from customers and other staff members, and use presence and UC dashboard capabilities to start a conversation or join that expert to a customer call. In this example, Web 2.0 concepts lead to demonstrable business benefit, supporting the concepts of JITFTE, and creating real revenue opportunities for the organization.

We'll explore this and other concepts of Web 2.0 in the UC arena during our session. Please join us: Wednesday, April 1, 8:00 AM - 8:45 AM, Sun D.At VoiceCon, we'll explore the crossroads of Web 2.0 and enterprise communications.





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