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.
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.
The cloud is here and here to stay. No one expects a wholesale move to the cloud overnight, but I’ve been hearing recently from numerous customers whose journeys are well underway, and some common themes are emerging as businesses explore various deployment models. Business agility, flexibility and balance sheet liquidity will drive cloud adoption, and, as the popularity of hybrid models increases, users will demand a seamless end-user experience between the cloud and on-premise systems.
A few weeks ago, I included these themes in my predictions about the future of cloud collaboration. This week I had the chance to speak with two Cisco customers about why issues such as flexibility, cost savings and user experience drove them to deploy cloud collaboration technologies and other cloud solutions. Sheila Jordan, senior vice president, communication and collaboration IT, co-hosted the discussion with me and offered her insights from an IT perspective. She also recapped the discussion, sharing some specific tips for how IT managers can best take advantage of the cloud.
John Jackson, vice president of global infrastructure and vendor management for D+M Group, said that he can relate easily to the prediction about business agility, flexibility and cost when thinking back to his company’s decision to move to the cloud. D+M Group employs people in several different operating divisions around the world and grew through a series of acquisitions, leaving the company to globalize shared-services IT team that did not previously exist. Read More »
Tags: avaya, Charlotte, CIO, Cisco, City of Charlotte, cloud, cloud collaboration, cloud_computing, collaboration, D+M Group, hosted collaboration, Hosted Collaboration Solution, hybrid clouds, IT, North Carolina, on-premise, predictions, private cloud, Public Cloud, UCS, user experience
You are probably thinking that the title of this blog seems a little bizarre given that I work at one of the largest networking companies in the world. The truth is I felt compelled to write about the role of the network in today’s collaboration solutions because the importance of the network is not always apparent and well understood.
A good example of how network-enabled collaboration solutions can be used is that of a hospital or healthcare organization. The hospital is only as good as its network of services, providers and the accompanying medical infrastructure that support the organization — they all leverage each other in various different ways. Physicians can take advantage of mind share and resources and have information at hand from different sources to make the right decisions. This is what enables doctors and nurses to perform their best work and provide top quality care to the people they serve.
Collaboration technologies and solutions make that collaborative work environment a reality and aid in the diagnosis and care of patients — in some cases even being able to remotely provide medical care by a specialist that may be located half way around the world. The importance of the underlying network in this instance is critical to both physicians and patients alike. How would the network have any effect on the use of interactive video in telemedicine? Well, let’s think of it from the experience point of view. What would the consequences be for a patient if the video stream they were using in a telemedicine consult was choppy or grainy and the doctor couldn’t get just the right view of the patient to make the right diagnosis? Let’s just say I would not want to be the patient in this scenario. A sub-par experience would be unacceptable because even minor details can have an enormous impact on a diagnosis or treatment plan. These collaborative exchanges are what ultimately give the patient the best experience and outcome possible for their individual treatment. A strong network foundation is critical to the delivery of the service and experience in this instance.
Collaboration technologies gaining significant traction in the enterprise today include streaming video, web conferencing and other forms of interactive and dynamic communications — known as rich media. The reason for the uptick in their use is that they offer the most life like, “in-person” collaboration experiences possible today. That is what people want and what ultimately drives them to be more engaged with one another. As described above, the network is critical to the delivery of these types of media. Not just any network architecture will suffice. A network-based architecture optimized for rich media such as Cisco (medianet) provides the intelligent services needed in order to scale, optimize and enhance the performance of voice, video and data – all critical to the delivery of the collaboration experience.
What does this mean? Read More »
Tags: Borderless Networks, Bring your Own Device (BYOD), collaboration, medianet, network-enabled collaboration, standards, telemedicine
In my last blog, I talked about how much our desktop, or what we know as a “desktop”, has evolved over the past few years. Mobility, cloud and video have redefined a lot of what is included in that desktop, but the need for a high quality and consistent user experience across devices has not waned.
Bringing together all these elements has provided a new workspace environment that is virtualized, mobile and convenient. The best of all worlds really. Now the remaining question is: does this new workspace offer a better collaboration experience? I think the answer is yes. Here is why.
On January 17th Cisco announced a new software that extends the power and reach of Jabber (our all-in-one UC client) to virtual environments, delivered as part of Cisco VXI. And the response from the market and media was really great. Articles published tied the announcement to larger industry trends such as BYOD and mobile workers. Many commented how Cisco’s announcement and the features released were a clear response to the fact that work life is changing, and solutions like these will allow for more flexibility, without compromising capabilities or the user experience.
“What this means is that the reach of Jabber—which includes such features as instant messaging, high-definition video, voice and presence—will grow beyond physical desktops and into the virtual desktop space, which is finding rapid adoption in enterprises…” – Cisco Brings Jabber UC Features to Virtual Desktop World -- Jeffrey Burt, eWEEK
“In light of the escalating trend, the marriage of Unified Communications and VDI is a logical market evolution. The effort is part of a long-term software strategy for Cisco aimed at taking its collaboration and video prowess up a few notches” Cisco Extends Jabber With VDI -- Stefanie Hoffman, Channelnomics.
Cisco pioneered this trend when we announced Cisco VXI over 2 years ago, and since then we have been working on delivering the promise of VDI without the compromises. The announcements we made a couple of weeks ago confirms Cisco’s commitment to this space, and our deep understanding of the market transitions and the customer needs.
This new software direction is not only focused on enabling multiple devices to be part of the VXI ecosystem, it also means that Cisco is extending these capabilities to provide customers more options, in an open, standards based environment, without compromising the level of the capabilities delivered, or the support available. As more than 1,000 VXI customers will tell you, the Cisco Validated Designs are not only a way to have a full multivendor solution tested and validated in a real-world environment, they are a recipe for deployment success.
Since “seeing is believing” let me invite you to see the VXI technologies in action at the World of Solutions Unified Workspace booths at Cisco Live London, and invest some time with our experts at the show. We have a series of very impressive demonstrations lined up for you, showcasing different environments for different user profiles. There is at least one that will be applicable to your work environment, I promise you that.
For those of you that can’t be in London for this event, we have something prepared too. Visit our Virtual Experience online in the Cisco Collaboration Community to see Cisco leaders expand on Cisco strategy and demonstrate the new solutions announced on Jan 17. You can also ask questions to our experts through the discussion forum. We want to hear from all of you.
Tags: Cisco Jabber, Cisco VXI, Cisco VXI Smart Solution, collaboration, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, virtual desktops
Organizations of all types enter 2013 with one key priority: how do they move faster and execute with greater agility while still remaining flexible and adaptable to the rapid changes in markets?
CEOs around the world are looking to collaboration as their top strategy to increase the speed of their organizations. Why? Because collaboration eliminates the friction that slows organizations down — whether that friction comes from people or processes.
The amount of friction in your organization is directly proportional to your ability to speed up your team. Friction is sometimes purposeful, such as passive-aggressive behavior. Other times friction comes from processes that create decisions without any clarity or a clear definition of success.
Here are four New Year’s resolutions for all leaders to Read More »
Tags: collaboration, culture, leadership, Ron Ricci Blog, strategy, The Collaboration Imperative