The Challenges around Unified Interaction Management – A Contact-Center Perspective
The emergence of Unified Interaction Management (UIM) has seen a massive replacement of old technology platforms, to the new-age ones broadly under the premise of multi-point integration capability of the product vendor.
During the entire phase of this evaluation, one does forget that most of the product vendors subtly announce a rip-and-replace model than propose inter-operability to the existing investments.
The effort to adopt UIM across the corporate boundaries has been marred by warring technology-solutions, which do not inter-operate & integrate. From a contact-center perspective, most of the technologies deployed earlier has always been a silo-approach. Avaya/Cisco for Inbound, Aspect for Outbound (during the TDM era) and with the IP-SIP led initiatives it’s replacement of the old with the new.
However the tech-team in the contact-centre environments, barring the large ones, have not really identified & understood the true-capabilities surrounding Unified Interactions/Communications, which can spread corporate boundaries seamlessly, which could then be the platform-of-choice for their solutions to enhance their capability / productivity / unified experience to their customer interaction episode.
With matured enterprises adopting captive customer-service models, it’s imperative that the solution is capable of having various knowledge-workers available on a unified platform, without any pain to the end-user (by having to dial-in multiple numbers).
Barring few products, which are totally software-based (without any proprietary hardware) for eg., Genesys Labs (part of Alcatel-Lucent), other products are not able to truly bring in the Unified experience to their clients, without significant changes to existing platforms. The product enables the clients to use their existing investments in (1) PBX and (2) hardphones, as long as both are IP-enabled and (3) using common industry-standard integration mechanism viz., web-services, SoA etc, integrates to back-office suite of solutions easily.
From a contact-centre standpoint, both these are significant investments as corporate migrate their environment from TDM-2-SIP and also explore new investments as part of their expansion plans.
Tech-Heads @ Contact-centre should keep in mind the growing expansion activities through M&A, partnering with third-party environments, private-cloud deployments within the organization (multi-centers), bringing in knowledge-workers as part of the Customer-contact environment, while choosing a platform for Unified Interaction Management.
To sum it up, the key evaluation elements to explore are:
1. Seamless integration with multi-vendor PBX
2. Integration with multi-vendor hard-phones
3. Usage of softphone with headsets against external hard-phones (unless driven by process)
4. Mashup integration of Interaction Suite (desktop) with various external applications seamlessly
5. Single-window interface for monitoring across various dialer environments
6. Single-window reporting across the operations, irrespective of dialer environments
7. Multi-channel interface (email/chat/co-browse) as unified platform
8. Mobility interface capability – to existing dialer
9. Social-media integration with telephony & UIM tools
Unless contact-centres take a new-approach to their evaluation methods & criteria, the Unified approach of technology roll-out will remain a myth, reinforcing a silo’d approach of UCC but not a true corporate Unified Interaction environment.