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Tales from the UC Front
On one afternoon at VoiceCon, a series of sessions was devoted exclusively to case studies in selected vertical markets--Higher Education, Finance, Government, Health Care and Manufacturing. All my client and customer contacts were buzzing about those sessions for the rest of the conference.
Earlier that same afternoon there was a breakout session focusing on Communications-Enabled Apps, which presented interesting Unified Communications success stories. Here are highlights from that session:
* KAREN DEAN, Director of Global Voice Communications at Black & Decker, gave two powerful examples of "communications integrated to optimize business processes"--our UCStrategies.com definition of UC. In one case, Black & Decker created and automated an out-dial notification and self-service status-checking application to notify its customers when tool repair was complete. This reduced the days outstanding by 72%--from 39 days to 11 days. In the other case, Black & Decker created a new device that is attached to valuable machinery and incorporates both GPS (Global Positioning System) and cellular technology to report unauthorized movement (usually theft) of the equipment. One Black & Decker customer was able to recover $237,000 in stolen equipment in less than two months,
Ms. Dean went on to describe the philosophy B&D used when approaching these innovations: Focus on business value; work across organizational boundaries; don't underestimate the need for change; and train and hire for the needed skills. The needed skills mentioned by Karen include the ability to understand business processes and how to apply communications technologies to accelerate the business, and how to appropriately leverage the assets of both vendors and integrators.
* RIF KIAMIL, IT Manager from J J Food Service in the UK, presented another powerful UC example. The company focuses intensely on the speed, efficiency and quality of its customer services, and used call center agent desktop software technology to put a smart "portal" application on the mobile phones of all their route drivers. This gave the route driver immediate access to the resources of the office staff when needed, and the office staff could determine where the driver was at any point during the day and whether the driver was available for a call or interruption or was busy with a customer. The application also included location information, via the GPS features of the mobile device, to be even more accurate in their customer service management. The returns were significant in both improved customer service and in shaving minutes per day from the deliveries and services.
* MICHAEL FUQUA, SVP Global Information Services at Global Crossing, described how Global Crossing has integrated UC into its network provisioning operations to achieve significant ROI. Michael showed the actual network engineer PC screens (i.e. the provisioning "portal") into which Global Crossing has integrated Presence, IM and click-to-call. With those tools, network engineers no longer have to call around to find assistance on problems; instead, the application software uses presence to find an available engineer with the right skills and authorizations to work on the problem and opens up an IM chat session to work the issue. If voice communications is then needed, either party can click-to-call. Overall, the benefits have been significant--problems take less time to resolve, customer service has dramatically improved and network engineering staff cost per transaction has dropped significantly.
* DEVANTE VARGAS, IT Manager from Kuepers Inc, Architects and Builders, described how UC has enabled dramatic growth for this mid-market firm. Prior to UC, the firm depended on traditional, manual methods to communicate with field personnel, to coordinate projects and to manage problems or issues. With the UC tools for easy access to mobile personnel via find-me and follow-me features, the company has been able to grow beyond its local area, since they can keep in touch with remote locations and project teams. The new conferencing tools also allow Kuepers to assemble the project teams flexibly in either planned or ad-hoc mode, to keep the business flowing. Overall, Kuepers credits the UC initiative with contributing to its 400% growth in just four years.
The good news is that these customer success reports are not isolated instances; there are dozens more examples that provide guidance on how to proceed with Unified Communications.
VoiceCon proved again that it's the place to meet and to hear about progress, experience and successes in our industry. Hope to see you at VoiceCon San Francisco 2008, November 10-13! In the meantime, let me know if you have any UC stories--successful or otherwise. Drop me a note at [email protected] or post at the Unified Communications eWeekly forum: http://voicecon-uc-eweekly.p0.com/u.d?rnM9bshgPc-_EPU5mJ=1630