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Given the complexity of enterprise networks, solving a problem reported by a customer can often mean drawing on the expertise of multiple Cisco support engineers (SEs). But with more than 2,300 Cisco SEs worldwide, we needed to give them online tools for finding colleagues who know the right information and are available right now to offer help.

We developed these tools in the form of a “Find an Expert” application, which allows the engineers to identify and collaborate with experts who match the skills they require to solve tough customer problems. The application shows a detailed view of each expert’s skills, then provides collaboration buttons that are implemented in the internally developed case-management applications also used by the busy Cisco SEs.

Any time a support engineer is working on a customer service request, he or she can select a technology skill set and find a knowledgeable colleague with that skill through the online Find an Expert tool. Useful information about the expert is displayed, including location, presence status, phone number, and e-mail name.

The Cisco SE can initiate real-time collaboration with that person simply by clicking on an icon for a phone call, e-mail message, Cisco WebExcollaboration session, or instant messaging session via WebEx Connect. This collaboration will not only make the engineer’s job easier, but our customers will benefit from through faster resolution of their service requests.

We created the click-to-collaborate functionality using the Cisco Unified Application Environment(Cisco UAE). This environment helps us easily write integrations from our enterprise applications into Cisco Unified Communications and collaboration capabilities.

We also added presence information (obtained from the Cisco Unified Presence Server) to the collaboration features. Today, each expert’s presence data is shown when they are listed by the Find an Expert tool. In the future, this tool will show you only those experts who are currently available, making it even easier to find a colleague who can help solve a customer problem right away.

It’s likely that your employees need better ways to find and connect with each other than calling around or broadcasting a “Do you know someone who knows about …” e-mail. As this example shows, with Cisco UAE you can help employees connect more easily, more quickly, and more directly from within business applications.

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