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The Blurring Line between Enterprise Applications and Communications

We've all see the statistics: the number of mobile web users worldwide will more than double from 450 million in 2009 to over 1 billion by the end of 2013 (IDC) or smartphones will outnumber feature phones by the end of 2011 (Nielsen Research). And those of us that read No Jitter likely have the personal experience of having one, two, or even more mobile devices that can access the web (I'm personally in the "even more" category). But until recently, little attention has been given to supporting the customer service needs of users on these devices.In the contact center world, some vendors have announced solutions for putting supervisor applications on mobile devices. As early as 2002, Siemens contact center solution provided mobile alerts and notifications of critical contact center conditions with a feature called MessageStream. More recently Cisco developed Mobile Supervisor, which allows supervisors to receive real-time performance metrics on iPhone3G and iPod touch devices. Available for free from the iTunes App Store, with it supervisors can view color-coded indicators of agent statistics and queue metrics.

Arguably it was the Apple App Store that created an environment for customer service applications to be developed for consumer mobile use. Retailers like Amazon and financial institutions like Bank of America have built iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad applications that can be downloaded by consumers to create an environment for conducting transactions from mobile devices.

But there are many mobile environments in addition to Apple's; devices based on Symbian, the Blackberry OS, Android, and Windows Mobile to name just a few. How can companies not only create applications for these devices, but keep up with the ever-changing versions of each as they are created?

In New York last week, one company announced an answer for its customers, RightNow Mobile. RightNow describes itself as an on demand customer experience solution company. (Ten years ago, it was described as a CRM company.) As seen in the graphic, they believe that companies need to manage the web, the contact center and the social experience of their customers in order to be successful.

With RightNow Mobile, companies can create mobile applications for functions like chat and guided assistance that will work on any device the consumer may have. Instead of a company creating one app for the iPhone, another for the Blackberry, another for the Droid, etc., the RightNow SaaS platform creates the web experience for the device being used by the customer.

Is RightNow Mobile a telephony application? Clearly not. Nor is it unified communications. Arguably, it could be termed a collaboration application. Similar to's Chatter and Cisco's Quad, solutions that blur the lines between communications and enterprise applications continue to appear. RightNow might not have been a company you would see at VoiceCon, but perhaps it's one we'll see at Enterprise Connect.