John Cray

John Cray | April 27, 2015 |


Is Your Contact Center Ready for the IoT?

Is Your Contact Center Ready for the IoT? While the Internet of Things is largely about decreasing human involvement, the opposite will be true in the contact center.

While the Internet of Things is largely about decreasing human involvement, the opposite will be true in the contact center.

From Skype to Google Talk to federated UC mobile apps to browser-based voice or IM communications, the number of communications-enabled devices and application endpoints on the Internet is increasing dramatically. And, not surprisingly, contact centers are paying attention, because any one of those endpoints is a viable gateway to customer service.

But it doesn't stop there. You've undoubtedly been hearing a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT), an evolution in technology that includes machine-to-machine communications. IoT has the potential to take work productivity to new heights -- with minimal human involvement. While this may be true for some consumers and businesses, one organization will actually see a huge uptick in human involvement -- and that's the contact center.

Where's the connection between IoT and the contact center, you wonder?

portable To understand the answer, we first need a quick IoT primer. The IoT is emerging as the third wave in the development of the Internet. The first wave began in the 1990s with the fixed Internet connecting 1 billion users. The second wave came in the 2000s, with the mobile Internet connecting another 2 billion users. In this next wave, IoT has the potential to connect 50 billion "things" to the Internet by 2020, according to research from Cisco's Internet Business Solutions Group. That's a 25 times increase in connectedness coming in the next five years.

Think about the implications for customer service when devices, systems, and appliances can report their own faults -- the pump or piping system that reports a drop in pressure, the security system that alerts on a difference between two captured images, the HVAC system that communicates a rise in temperature, the home appliance that fails one of its periodic system checks -- the list is endless. The power of this interconnectedness is indisputable, but as Spiderman's Uncle Ben would say, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Indeed. Anyone who's been woken up by a neighbor's car alarm in the middle of the night knows that, to our dismay, many automated alerts are false positives, and may be simply reset. But that often leaves it up to a person, a human being, to step in. In the world of device or system problem diagnosis, that person will often sit in a contact center.

The Challenge of Automated Connectivity
Troubleshooting a laptop, tablet, or smartphone is one thing. Troubleshooting an IoT device is a whole other matter. First, determining the root cause of the problem is difficult. For example, is the broadband Internet provider to blame or is something wrong with the device itself, such as a faulty driver or some other hardware malfunction? Second, because of the incredibly low cost of these IoT devices, many manufacturers don't have a business model that supports live technical support.

A reported fault may begin with an automated alert, and then escalate to a live contact with a person who is physically next to the system that requires diagnosis and reconfiguration. That's why the statement Paul Weichselbaum, EVP of technical support provider PlumChoice, made in a recent Harvard Business Review article, "Who Provides Tech Support for the Internet of Things?", is so pertinent to today's contact centers. "Just imagine the number of phone calls, chat sessions, text messages and self-help searches that will be necessary to reconcile consumers' configuration, activation, integration, backup, and security needs across this diverse network of devices by 2020," he wrote.

Currently, your contact center is focused on providing service to customers who own a product or have purchased a subscription from your company. How will you respond when your contact center traffic includes support requests for "things" that are connected to your products and services? Will your company find a way to extend its helpfulness to this new wave of requests?

IoT no doubt will present a huge customer service challenge in the near future as billions of devices and webs of connections continue to emerge. Without a doubt, we'll see some new stars emerge in the customer service arena, marked by an ability to evolve methods of service to help consumers and businesses experience the full potential IoT has to offer. But behind the scenes our contact centers must continue to provide fundamental tools for great service -- where self-service, skills-based routing, omnichannel collaboration tools, and great performance reporting let us manage customer service in our increasingly interconnected world.

John Cray is vice president of product management at Enghouse Interactive, which offers a comprehensive portfolio of customer interaction management solutions.


Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem

Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.