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If Communications are Going to Improve Processes, Inject them in the Processes!

One of the mantras of the week at Enterprise Connect was, as it always is, "make it relevant to business." Mobile, cloud, video, WebRTC--all got their fare share of attention this year. But everyone agrees that if you want IT buyers and line-of-business managers to pay good money for a UC solution, you have to show them where the value lies--and it's not just in enabling better communications and collaboration; it's mostly in enabling better business processes.

And yet, Frost & Sullivan research shows that the vast majority of organizations have not implemented communications-enabled business processes (CEBP), and do not feel that UC deployments are well aligned with their business needs. Why the disconnect?

After all, it's not like business relevancy is a new idea; analysts and vendors have been talking about the importance and value of integrating advanced communications with business processes for years. Heck, some people even define "unified communications" as CEBP. The difficulty has always been assumed to be that business processes are hard to identify, vary from company to company, and are not any telephony vendor's core competency.

The last point is valid; most of the UC vendors' professional services offerings are around technology implementation, not business processes or change management. But business processes themselves, while difficult to understand in the abstract, are actually very well defined in almost every mid- to large-size enterprise in the world, thanks to SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and a host of other vertical and horizontal business applications that companies have been running for years to improve and enable how they get work done.

UC vendors looking to help their customers inject communications into their businesses for better results--streamlined decision making, improved service and support, shorter cycle and supply-chain times, and so on--should start with the leading business applications already installed on most customer sites. They don't need to become experts on developing new business processes themselves, and they don't need to introduce customization into the mix. They just need to look at what's already out there--well defined and, at this point, well tested--and identify those places where adding voice, conferencing, video or social communications can improve the process.

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