Almost everything you read about Unified Communications pertains to business-as-usual situations. The value proposition and business case are both much easier to understand when there’s a clear road map. Usually the conversation begins around a PBX replacement, along with which comes a long planning cycle, with UC being deployed in stages to make the migration as smooth as possible. This reflects the world of “known knowns” where the frame of reference is familiar and the expected results are easy to envision.
This is certainly the environment that UC vendors would prefer to operate in, and they will do everything in their power to paint that picture for you. Businesses are conservative by nature, and change doesn’t come easily, especially if the outcomes are not certain. Does that not sound like a plausible reason why UC has been slower to gain adoption than anticipated?
If the above steady-state scenario describes you, then your business is probably deploying UC, and maybe even getting great results. The PBX was replaced before major issues arose, and conditions were manageable for working with the vendor to get all the bugs out early and to fine-tune your network to support all the productivity-enabling applications.
Now let’s flip that around to what I think is a more typical reality. If there are no pressing problems, UC will be deployed in a managed fashion, from the inside-out to ensure the broadest benefit possible. This is a good plan, but most businesses operate with much more uncertainty. For whatever reason, if you operate more in a reactive mode than a proactive mode, then you have problems to resolve and fires to fight.
UC can actually be even more valuable in this environment, but the path will be very different. Chances are the pace of your business is too fast or unpredictable for the luxury of an inside-out deployment plan. Short of tearing everything down, UC will have to be imposed on your existing infrastructure. Sometimes starting over is the right thing to do, and while start-ups simply view this as a creative challenge, most businesses view this as totally a last resort. For that reason, let’s just assume you have to live with the status quo, and save the last resort scenario for another time.
Exploring this theme can take a few directions, and for this post I’ll pick up on an issue briefly cited in my last post. Consider this: customer satisfaction has been dropping and the launch of your new product is getting pushed back. You know this will just make things worse, and your contact center will not be a fun place to work. Management is stressed and will be monitoring the contact center closely for two reasons First, they want to stay on top of any trends in customer sentiment, and secondly, they will be wary of agents who end up making matters worse by mishandling calls from unhappy customers.
You are well aware that your contact center is saddled with legacy equipment. Not only are agents limited in being responsive to inquiries, but your monitoring tools cannot deliver much in the form of real-time results. While it’s not clear how much this accounts for the recent slide in customer satisfaction, you suspect it’s a major factor, and perhaps another example of how management’s continued underfunding of IT is catching up to them.
This is not the time to start pointing fingers, but you probably have a better sense as to what’s coming than management, and you are faced with both a big problem and a big opportunity. UC is not the silver bullet for all your problems, but can you see where it can fit the bill pretty nicely? I can, and will continue on that tangent in my next post.