BCOM - More Important Than Ever
There is no doubt that communications technology are "de-layering," just as computers have done. Andy Grove's great book, "Only the Paranoid Survive," describes how this happened for computers, and we now see a new architecture for communications technologies, too.
This is going to enable wonderful new solutions, now that communications can be built into almost any application and used on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Moreover, the communications user experience is shifting to those "apps" and we will see leadership from cloud providers ranging from Salesforce.com to Office 365 to the Apple apps store and the Amazon cloud.
Of course, that will happen in parallel with another decade or so of on-premises solutions that won't look much like a PBX, either. Whether for Cisco Collaboration or Microsoft Skype for Business, dial tone is no longer the first feature in the product brochures.
However, the management of these new communications is initially pretty limited and difficult, usually even worse than the historically limited management and reporting tools of a PBX or an IP PBX. Just to make the point, have you ever seen a report that tells you how often someone uses each of the programmable buttons on their fancy PBX-based desk phone? Certainly none of our UniComm Consulting clients have seen such reports, since that would expose the dark secret that few of those buttons are being used, and about the only thing that matters on the phone these days is the quality of the speakerphone.
The real value of today's UC solutions is coming from all the advanced features - mobility, call swipe, simultaneous ring to the mobile device, click-to-communicate via voice or video from an email or IM or directory, drag and drop users into a call or chat to start a meeting, and much more. However, these features need to be organized by types of users (we call these Usage Profiles), automatically provisioned, monitored, and reported. In addition, this can often be across multiple platforms, such as an Avaya Aura system with IBM Connections or a Cisco Collaboration system with Microsoft Skype for Business.
This is where BCOM - Business Communications Operations Management - comes into the picture. It's really worth reading Christopher May's blog post on this topic. (Christopher is with VOSS, the sponsor of this article.) He makes it very clear that the value of UC is in the packaging and presentation of functionality to the users in a way that is best aligned with their jobs and that supports their successful adoption and resulting productivity.
A good BCOM solution will sit "on top" of all of your UC platforms and will enable your IT Communications and Applications teams to define the optimum set of features for each Usage Profile. Once that definition is in place, the BCOM system will automate the provisioning of each user's UC configuration. A new field sales person gets hired and, "Voila," the BCOM system will get that signal from the Active Directory (which should have instantly gotten it from the HR on-boarding process) and then:
- Provision the sales person's mobile device(s)
- Assign them a company-owned mobile number
- Start up their mobile email, IM and SMS accounts (while establishing their "presence" status)
- Give them an online audio/video/web conference account and password for customer working sessions
- Create a workstream collaboration account and automatically add the user into the relevant Sales "rooms"
- Configure a desk phone if the field sales person even has a desk or wants a phone and set up the single number reach capabilities
- Send the new user a welcome email with a list of all their services and devices and instructions on how to activate their various accounts
There are many more potential features and capabilities to enable, but you get the idea. This is not just a text-based PBX or IP-PBX administration screen, this is a Business Communications solution interface. And, this type of user enablement would be defined for each of the five to ten main Usage Profiles in the company.
But that's just the start of the value of BCOM. Now the real leverage comes from tracking the use of the powerful new UC features, to assure user adoption, which is worth repeating, user adoption! We're not talking about telecom expense management - that's peanuts in the economic picture. We're talking about how to help a $100K field sales team member be 20% more productive so that they produce 12x their salary per year in revenue rather than only the traditional number of about 10x. That's what "leverage" really means.
A good BCOM system will pull information from all of the different components - networks, gateways, devices, applications, and more - and format that information into reports for the line managers so the manager can coach and reinforce best practices (e.g. understand who are the champions versus who are the laggards). Since some of the highest leverage jobs in most industries are also those that depend the most on communications effectiveness, a good BCOM solution can be just as important as the application software (e.g. the CRM system used by the sales team) that supports the user's workflows and tasks.
So, please, please go look at a BCOM system, such as VOSS-4-UC, so that you get your money's worth out of the highly communication-dependent users in your company, while also assuring you are managing the TCO of your communications technologies. It will be worth your time and investment.
This paper is sponsored by VOSS.