How Cloud and Analytics are Changing the Unified Communication Market

Tim Olson is Vice President of Software Engineering at ShoreTel
Tim Olson is Vice President of Software Engineering at ShoreTel

Business communications used to be a standalone solution that merged a company’s email, IM and presence, telephony, video and web conferencing into one unified solution. It was used tactically to improve communications within an organization and with remote workers and was thought to have an impact on employee productivity, although that was hard to measure.

UC is now becoming a strategic business solution as a result of the current trend to move a company’s communications to the cloud and the ability to use analytics to gain deeper customer insights using UC data combined with other cloud applications such as CRM.

Instead of the premises or onsite UC system that had difficulty reliably plugging into those critical business cloud applications, now UC is also entering the cloud – making real-time integration seamless and enriching the data available to the company through their everyday communications. UC then becomes much more strategic. Instead of only providing an efficient “how” to communicate, a new broad set of real-time data views helps you set the context and personalize the “what” you communicate, speeding resolutions, sales, customer satisfaction, and productivity in ways that can be directly measured for the impact on business results.
A succinct way of putting this is that the future of UC is data.

Future of UC is data

As BI and analytics combine with the data from the UC engine, the output can be available to the user both as a historical record and in real-time, enabling greater predictability. You can now prioritize call backs, and automate conference systems and data, so manual, time consuming efforts to find related data is unnecessary. Better visualizations and data mashups are now possible and users can see beyond voice metrics to the correlation with back-end business applications and systems. Customer usage data, such as number of calls or chat sessions by customer, can now be extended to predict broader developing trends.

While voice conferencing was always part of the PBX, it was not allowing any measure of engagement or telling you who was more engaged, let alone provided a clue as to why they were more engaged. An analytics-based cloud contact center is no longer isolated from the PBX and can bring in external social systems, providing broader reports and increasing individualized engagement. In the new UC world, a supervisor can track an agent’s effectiveness by modality, taking data from disparate sources and integrating it into a complete picture of performance. When a cloud contact center is combined with BI and analytics you can develop key learnings with predictive intelligence for greater personalization. Now the context for a call is in front of the receiver and there is the latest data about the person you are serving.

This level of engagement and personalization will soon become table stakes for UC. Some of the first practical uses of analytics came from using data from consumer applications relying heavily on social engagement. As the enterprise is transformed by social tools and cultures, the same degree of visibility and automated analysis of data from other system sources makes personalization and greater engagement also possible to business.

Data will lead UC system

In the near future supervisors will have real-time customized feeds across modalities that are also integrated into CRM – all provided at a touch of the button within an intuitive client interface that can be personalized for contact center administration. Integrations for other established business applications will follow, as will developers who will dream up new applications and views for the business. Data will actually be leading the UC system and customized for your particular business and workflows. The benefit of data for UC in the cloud is that it is much easier to manage by discrete user profile than with premises UC, and of course, less costly. Cloud UC can be scaled more easily and as I’ve said, real-time integration is easier. All this without a deployment of extra hardware.

UC to move to the cloud and integrate with BI and analytics

It is a natural progression for UC to move to the cloud and integrate with BI and analytics. Think about it: all your billing data is in the cloud. All your credit card information is in the cloud. Your personal information is exposed online. Taking a company’s ubiquitous and mission critical communications system and uniting it with data and analytics means a workforce that is empowered to customize its solution for and relationship with each customer – leading to higher customer satisfaction, competitive differentiation, greater market agility and, of course, better business results.

About the author:

Tim Olson is Vice President of Software Engineering at ShoreTel where he currently drives the direction for ShoreTel’s mobility products. In 2010 ShoreTel acquired Agito Networks where Tim was the CTO and a founder of the company. Utilizing his diverse background in cellular and 802.11/VoWLAN wireless technologies, he lead the technical direction and architectural planning of the company’s products. Tim’s career has included leadership positions in Cisco Systems, JetCell, Spectrum Wireless and Ventritex.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from University of California.

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