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Centralization and Consolidation: Bigger and Better

January 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm PST

It’s been more than 10 years since we introduced IP Telephony to the contact center market with Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (CCE).  We may have lacked some features in our early product but we did one thing that no other vendor could easily deliver in 2001:  When a customer had three sites with 50 agents per site and they wanted an enterprise-class contact center platform, we were the only solution that could offer them a “single ACD”.  That was the initial advantage of IP-ACD.  The benefits of that consolidation were pretty clear in the Erlang calculators and that type of multi-site business case launched us into the contact center market.  Today we continue to see  momentum around centralization and consolidation but the projects are getting much bigger and we’re focused on making our solution even better at addressing the challenges associated with this type of initiative.

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In 2013, many contact center customers are faced with a decision to move to a new platform for ACD and IVR.  Information Technology has continued to evolve and we see projects like “Data Center Consolidation” lining up with these new contact center purchase decisions.  Our IT-focused buyers want to deploy contact center as a service in their data center to simplify operations and consolidate on a single-platform for ACD/IVR/CTI to reduce cost.  Our business-focused buyers also see “Centralization” as one of their top business priorities.  A centralized contact center system can reduce labor costs, improve speed of answer, and also deliver the best possible customer experience by connecting customers with the right resource anywhere in the enterprise.  A centralized system can also provide a platform for implementing new revenue generating strategies like cross-selling.

I’ve been working on consolidation projects with our contact center customers for many years.  I vividly remember some very tough conversations with one of our early customers that was putting a system in place to merge their two contact center locations into a single team/queue (while operating across two locations).  The site managers were adamant about their need for a “service level by site” since this peer to peer site competition was so ingrained in their operation.  I was shoulder to shoulder with the IT staff trying to explain the mathematical benefits of a single queue and how their new system would have one shared queue and therefore it would result in one shared service level.  That wasn’t an easy conversation.  It took many hours of discussion and alignment with the top level business management to help reset their plan on how they would operate as one team.

What I’ve learned from our customers over the years is that there are organizational dynamics around sites and in line of business groups that sometimes conflict with the output of the Erlang calculator.  There is a need in some deployments to compromise efficiency in order to map more easily to varying departmental priorities.  It is a small set of enterprises that can jump all-in to a uniform operation/service and therefore more often than not there is some compromise between consolidation and segmentation.

In the Cisco contact center development team we see the expansion of the departmental features as an area of innovation.  We are looking to offer reasonable choices in how our customers can deliver a single platform that continues to support choices around distributed administration.  The requirements are more complex then secured access control.  In some cases our customers are asking for tiered hierarchies or hybrid access models with some combination of shared responsibility and access to data.  We want to offer this flexibility without complexity and that requires continuous focus on how these features impact the supervisor and administrator user experience.

One of our key technology partners in this area is Exony   We’ve had a deep technology relationship with Exony for nearly 10 years.  They first came to us with a “Service Provider grade” security model for access control and we’ve incorporated parts of their technology into our core CCE platform.  We believe the Exony VIM solution offers best in class contact center platform administration and control capability for our largest enterprise customers who operate multiple lines of business.  The upcoming release of Exony VIM will be leveraging some new CCE access control functionality and we’re looking to expand this capability to support customers of all sizes and deployment models with future versions of CCE.

This is a key investment area for us so I’m very interested feedback on this direction so please share your thoughts here on our collaboration blog or in our Collaboration Community.  This is also the time of year to set plans to attend this summer’s Cisco Live in Orlando so hopefully I’ll see many of you there.

Tod

 

Streamline Your Data Center with Three Key Optimized Security Measures

The data center is at the heart of promoting IT transformation. Mobility initiatives have created a need for increased connections; power initiatives have created a need for greater efficiency; and the increased need for real-time workload processing are driving that change. I see these as “signature” trends in 2013 and also highlighted these in my earlier post this year. Conventional IT security approaches often add complexity and usually impede efficiency gains. What’s needed is an approach that does not introduce latency or require the data center to be reconfigured to accommodate security. Neither should it introduce a myriad of new of tools, new reports, and new processes.

Very few vendors can claim to provide an end-to-end architecture where security is a key programmable element of the underlying data center fabric. This capability not only accelerates the adoption of virtualization and cloud technologies but also mitigates the complexity associated with disparate and siloed security technologies. The benefits are increased business agility backed by assured security posture, strong alignment of business function to security and reduced operational costs. In this paradigm, data center and IT executives will no longer be forced into making tradeoffs between business function and security to ensure newer and more capable services.

Read More »

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DO NOT PANIC: Autonomic Networking is on the Horizon!

dontpanic

By looking at the sheer amount of Breakouts and technical sessions here at Cisco Live London, it isn’t hard to understand why networks are becoming more and more complex.  Networks are converging onto single infrastructures, more and more business processes are becoming more network centric and this translates into more functionality and more dependencies between functions and network layers, and thus more complexity.  It becomes very hard for a single human being to understand these dependencies and layer interactions in order to do per-box configuration.  Typically this problem is attempted to be ‘solved’ by moving some of these dependencies and layer interactions into a central place, but that just moves the problem.  Wouldn’t it be cool to allow networks to become self-aware, such that they can learn from their neighboring nodes ? Read More »

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Three Tips for Partners Delivering TelePresence to the Financial Sector

January 30, 2013 at 11:45 am PST

This post is the first in a series where we’ll be featuring success stories from some of our partners on how they are helping customers achieve their goals by using Cisco technology. The author of this post is Kevin Kiser, Director of Marketing, Core BTS.

When you think of the “old boy’s club,” certain industries come to mind: insurance, legal, and finance, to name a few. Those industries also carry the stigma of belabored processes and aged tools. So, how then, can we—the partner community—bring the financial persona into the 21st century? We can start today by showing them the opportunities of tomorrow, in a three-step process.

Recently, teleportation through the use of TelePresence in the financial industry was the main focus of a Cisco print ad in Fast Company’s July/August issue. While the ad describes the ultimate benefits of the technology, the three-step process to bring the ad to life is evident in the continued success of New York’s North Country Savings Bank (NCSB), whose Cisco TelePresence initiative has brought it closer to its customers than ever before. You can learn more about how Core BTS and NCSB worked together to design, implement, and support key technology solutions to drive their business and enhance their customers’ experiences in the video below.

So, what is the three-step process partners can use today?  Read More »

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Multiscreen Video Delivery: Tangled Solutions, Smoothed by the Cloud

bill-Gerhardt11By Bill Gerhardt, Director, IBSG Service Provider

Online video is growing at a rapid — if not explosive — pace, with innovation and disruption spreading across all areas of the value chain. Some of the greatest innovation is currently occurring around multiscreen delivery and related services.

To better understand the climate for video consumption, in March, 2012 the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) surveyed 1,152 U.S. broadband consumers between the ages of 13 and 75+ to gain a better understanding of how they watch video: their habits, preferences, and the devices they use.

The study found that consumers spend more time watching Internet video today than watching DVDs/Blu-ray Discs, video on demand (VoD), or live premium cable channels — and they want to watch streaming video across a variety of screens. In the future, multiscreen delivery will take on greater importance as laptops, tablets, and smartphones advance and become even better video devices.

Service providers must address these Read More »

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