Brent Kelly
Brent Kelly is president and principal analyst at KelCor, Inc., where he provides strategy and counsel to key client types...
Read Full Bio >>

Brent Kelly | January 05, 2016 |


CafeX Creates a 'KickStart' for Customer Engagement

CafeX Creates a 'KickStart' for Customer Engagement Goal is to help non-programmers design, test, and implement engagement capabilities via an easy-to-use, intuitive application wizard.

Goal is to help non-programmers design, test, and implement engagement capabilities via an easy-to-use, intuitive application wizard.

Most of us are familiar with, a global crowdsourcing platform that helps raise money for creative ideas and products. The beauty of Kickstarter is that people can easily bring their ideas to a public forum and get feedback on whether others think the ideas have market value.

What if we had a Kickstarter for the communications marketplace that, instead of focusing on funding, provided an environment that allowed creative people who are not programmers to embed communications and collaboration into their applications?

About two months ago, I saw such a product -- coincidentally code-named "KickStart" -- at CafeX Communications. If you recall, CaféX provides customer engagement solutions, primarily for large organizations, through backend software and application programming interfaces (APIs) that developers can use to embed collaboration capabilities into mobile apps and Web pages (see related post, Engaging the Nomad). Companies usually surface these capabilities in help or call buttons on their websites or mobile apps. When a person needs to reach out to the organization, he or she can click to be put in contact with an agent or representative via voice, video, or chat. Communications and collaboration sessions can also include co-browsing.

CaféX has designed KickStart to reduce the time it takes a business team to get these new engagement capabilities designed, tested, and implemented. Large organizations typically task digital media teams with building apps and Web pages; however, these teams must answer to and support multiple business groups, and consequently face time constraints.

As an example, consider a large bank that may loan money for homes, cars, and businesses. Each of these different loan types has its own marketing and selling team, and each demands the digital media group to create apps and Web pages to support its efforts. As a consequence, implementing a simple rework in a customer engagement strategy may take six to nine months due to limited developer bandwidth and the cycles required for design, test, pilot, and rollout.

KickStart can significantly reduce this implementation time by making it possible for non-programming business analysts and customer interaction specialists to specify, implement, and test these capabilities with no coding required on the company's existing website.

How KickStart Works
The KickStart application requires CaféX's software platform, which can be located in a company's own data center or in the cloud. CaféX can also spin up the software in a virtual environment or provide a downloadable trial environment.

Once the platform is available, business analysts who get KickStart accounts can immediately begin designing engagement buttons, strategies, and behaviors with the help of the application's wizard. The KickStart wizard guides the business analyst through some initial steps in creating click-to-call/chat/video customer engagement interactions. For example, the analyst would need to specify which capabilities -- voice, video, chat, and co-browsing -- should be available to customers when they click on the engagement button. As illustrated in the figure below, the wizard allows the designer to choose which of these engagement channels a particular button will make available.

portableFigure 1: The CaféX KickStart wizard allows customer engagement designers to choose which communication and collaboration capabilities a particular interaction button should enable.

This wizard steps the designer through a few key decision considerations, including whether the engagement should go directly to a contact center agent and whether to allow calls back from the contact center. Once a designer has specified this basic engagement button (presently called a "skin" in CaféX parlance), he or she can then save it. Simultaneously, KickStart generates the JavaScript, iOS, or Android code to implement that interaction button in a Web page or a mobile device with those specified characteristics.

Figure 2: KickStart automatically generates the Javascript, iOS, or Android code for an interaction button that will provide the engagement capabilities specified by the designer.

Completing this wizard is just the start of developing an interaction capability, however. Designers must then decide how to address a number of other issues that will affect the interaction. For example, they need to determine what should happen when someone with Internet Explorer, Safari, or other browser that does not support WebRTC navigates to a page on which an interaction button appears. Should the engagement button even be exposed in this case? If it is exposed, should the button offer to download an IE or Safari WebRTC plugin that will allow the multimedia engagement session to begin?

Figures 3 and 4 below show some of the controls allowing designers to specify the behavior of the engagement button with respect to various devices or browsers and whether the button should even display at all.

Figure 3: Designers can decide which devices and browsers to support. The image above shows how designers can enable or disable specific end user devices.

Figure 4: Designers can decide what to do when a person is using a non-WebRTC-enabled browser. For example, this screen specifies whether a user should be able to download a browser plugin.

Designers are also able to choose among a variety of layouts for the engagement window that appears after a user presses or taps the help or call button. They can specify where branding should appear and the size of the video pane windows, for example. They can also specify numerous controls for the voice and video capabilities.

Figure 5: KickStart allows a designer to specify the layout of the video screen (right image) and control voice and video capabilities (left image).

Once the designer is satisfied with the configuration, he or she can easily test how the button would look and how it would function on the company's website. No coding is required on the website for the test. When testing, the designer simply enters any URL into KickStart, and KickStart renders that page with the designer's customer engagement button appearing in the upper right-hand corner.

Figure 6: When testing a KickStart button, the designer can specify any URL to KickStart. KickStart renders the page with the help or call button appearing on the upper right of the specified Web page, and the button is live.

KickStart also allows the designer to surface an agent window, which enables the ability to test how the customer engagement button works on a website or in an app as well as how the interaction appears from an agent's or representative's perspective.

Figure 7: Engagement buttons can be easily tested to verify engagement functionality. In the image above, a "call" button was generated on the page at the left, and the end user engagement window displayed with any specified branding. On the right is the agent window. All functionality can be tested between agent and end user via these two windows.

Once a customer engagement button is working as intended, the designer can simply hand the code KickStart creates to an app or Web developer for live deployment. Should a button or its associated capabilities need tweaking, the programmers have access to the entire CaféX API and can make the requisite changes.

Just as levels the playing field by allowing a source of capital for anyone, CaféX's KickStart democratizes the ability for companies and organizations to create compelling experiences for better customer engagement. It does this by allowing anyone to specify, create, and test complex real-time rich-media interactions.

The KickStart project provides an excellent example of how non-programmers can use complex APIs to create compelling functionality in apps and on Websites. KickStart provides default choices for how functionality should work based on CaféX's experience in implementing these kinds of interactions for large enterprises, and the designer does not have to start from scratch or learn by trial and error.

Because KickStart provides a test capability, business analysts can see, experience, and understand the impact of collaboration's use within applications. When using such an environment, business analysts don't have to go to the developers to see how engagement can work -- they do it on their own. And, once designers have perfected the engagement interactions, they can simply hand the code to a developer who can deploy it on a live system, compressing development time down to days or weeks.

I believe other real-time communications API platforms can be simplified through the use of graphical interfaces for non-programmers. Masergy's visual IVR, which I discussed in a November post, is another example. I believe this trend toward non-programmers doing complex tasks with real-time communications will only accelerate as creative companies create the interfaces that enable them.

Learn more about WebRTC trends and technologies during the one-day WebRTC Conference Within a Conference at Enterprise Connect 2016, March 7 to 10, in Orlando, Fla. View the WebRTC Conference in a Conference agenda; register now using the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price.


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.