Strategic CIO // Digital Business
Commentary
7/17/2014
09:06 AM
Marty Parker
Marty Parker
Commentary
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7 Ways To Escape Communications Dark Ages

Here's how unified communication tools can improve processes, cut costs, and drive new business. Second of a multipart series.

or recovery times. One electric utility cut repair times by hours per outage.

4. Ensure that clients, constituents, partners, and other employees can instantly find a person with the right skill to meet their need.
Software searches can match requests for assistance with the best available resources at any location, eliminating voice mails, emails, and callbacks. A large bank made financial experts available on demand in branch banks via video rooms; customers no longer needed to schedule return appointments.

5. Automate communication processes by letting software do simple tasks.
Automating tasks such as posting info to a workspace or launching calls or chat sessions directly from applications or web pages take the need for human communication out of some steps in the workflow.

Automating communication processes is similar to web self-service and workflow automation. It reduces labor costs and time delays. One insurance company realized an estimated 84% three-year internal rate of return by building IM chat links into each application form field in its broker quote system. Brokers now chat with the right underwriter or reviewer to complete the quote, eliminating voice calls and holding time. Meantime, the insurance company reduced department staff by 30% while increasing broker loyalty because this method was more flexible and allowed multi-tasking.

6. Get information to users more quickly, where and when they need it, via workspaces, posts, IM bots, and other methods.
Companies can make information available on demand via mobile devices or Web portals, eliminating calls to back-office staff and accelerating transactions and collaborative processes. One major construction company implemented an IM bot to find and ship critical parts for field construction equipment, reducing labor and cellphone bills as well as equipment recovery time.

7. Make collaboration more effective by populating associated software and workspaces with click-to-communicate tools for sharing, editing, ideating, and meeting.
An oil company reduced its geology analysis time by 25% by building application sharing and voice/video conferencing directly into its oil exploration software application.

What yielded the returns in these examples? Major improvements in work processes, reductions in labor expenses, and a measurable boost to business results. And because of the modular nature of the IT-based communication architecture, the companies could implement new communications methods with a moderate investment. They didn't have to upgrade a complete PBX system.

UniComm Consulting's session at Enterprise Connect 2013, "Designing and Implementing CEBP" (see outline here, or download slides here), detailed the feasibility and the value of this new modular IT communications architecture. You can save some portion of the money that you now spend on labor, and your company can serve customers better by using less, going faster, and being different. Now is the time to act.

Next in the series: How to profile communications use in your organization and optimize processes and workflows using communications-enabled business processes.

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Marty Parker, Principal and co-founder of UniComm Consulting, has more than three decades of experience with computing and communications technologies. He has been a leader in strategic planning and product line management for IBM, AT&T, Lucent, and Avaya. Now, as ... View Full Bio
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