Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Business Drivers for VoIP Mashups

Don Van Doren is a regular columnist for VON magazine, and his recent article in his regular "Focus on Contact Centers" column put into a few short sentences what I believe are the business drivers for VoIP mashups. I believe that the next big wave of real time communications lies in the integration of technologies like VoIP and presence into the larger business process. This will increase business efficiency and customer satisfaction in a single move, and is a no-brainer for businesses of all sizes. Here's a concrete example: If my plane is canceled, I'd like an SMS message that tells me so, and says "Sorry your plane is canceled. Press SEND on your phone to reschedule now." When I press SEND, I call an operator that already has information on hand, and answers the phone with "Hello Mr. Howe. I'm sorry your plane is canceled. We can put you on a 4:30 or 7:30 plane. What one would you like?" That would be awesome service, and when you integrate real time communications with business backends, you can provide this service.

What Don said in the article was that there are three distinguishing characteristics of successful implementations of IP contact centers. I would amplify that by suggesting that successful VoIP mashups for enterprises would have the same three. I quote directly from his article:
  1. They are customer facing. That is, the investment facilitates direct communications between a company and its customers or business partners.
  2. The communication links... become embedded in an established or new workflow or process.
  3. The effect of implementing the communication link is to reduce cycle times or latency by eliminating or reducing the time waiting to reach someone.
The canceled flight example has all three, and is therefore valuable to both the customer and the business. From the larger perspective, this is why I believe that with the advent of service oriented architectures, integration of real time communications into the business process will be successful and inevitable.

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