7 Ways To Escape Communications Dark Ages - InformationWeek
IT Leadership // Digital Business
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Marty Parker
Marty Parker

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.

Communications is a mess in many companies. Tools aren't matched to roles, and functionality varies by work location. Companies don't track calls and messages for successful completion or response, and they don't identify or share best practices. The result is a massive waste of time and money. Delays and re-works sabotage the efficiency of business processes and workflows. But help is here!

The demise of the PBX technology silo (see part 1 of this series, Goodbye PBX, Hello IT Architecture) paves the way to a range of communications choices beyond voice calls and voice mail. Now we have multimedia/mobile IP devices, presence, IM, social networking, video, enhanced conferencing, and collaborative workspaces. With the new architecture, workers can access the best communications method for their task, and companies can embed communications functions in business processes and applications.

(Source: starmanseries)
(Source: starmanseries)

Shifting to the new model promises huge benefits. Email activity consumes 28% of an employee's time, according to a 2012 McKinsey survey, and technology-based internal communication and collaboration consumes another 14%. External calls probably consume another 12% based on typical trunk capacity. That's a whopping 54% of employee time.

Think about it. What is your company's topline revenue? If you assume that payroll consumes 39% of that revenue (Bureau of Labor Statistics payroll stats as a percentage of GDP), and that 54% of employee time is consumed by tech-based communications activities, you'll find that the labor cost for those communications activities alone can be up to 21% of revenue. That's the real cost of communications -- not the cost of the systems and devices. What if you could substantially reduce the time employees spend on communications while maintaining or improving the effectiveness of that communications? The new architectural model makes it possible. In fact, the McKinsey report maintains that just a few of the new unified communications tools could cut email and internal communications time by 25% or more.

[Don't make a mistake. See Unified Communications Plans: 6 Ways To Derail Disaster.]

Implementing UC tools in an IT architectural model can streamline communications and eliminate bottlenecks. My firm, UniComm Consulting, has worked with scores of companies to implement communications-enabled business processes (CEBPs) using UC. Even though our client companies vary in size and industry, and they use different UC vendors, they consistently use these technologies to:

1. Get more from their people or assets by removing the wasted time, delays, and reworks caused by communications bottlenecks.
For example, instead of someone calling, emailing, or texting multiple people to find the best resource for a particular job, software finds the best resource that's available immediately. Then the communications tools help finish the task more quickly.

Using this technique, one company improved customer-response times by 80% while reducing help-desk staff time per ticket by 70%. Phone calls per ticket dropped from 5 to 0.3.

2. Complete transactions faster by shifting to more efficient communication modes.
Companies can automate approvals or other actions needed to advance or complete a transaction, eliminating manual processing and communication steps and the associated delays and labor costs. One financial services company used this strategy to expand its loan-processing capacity by 30,000 loans per year for a staff of 4,000 employees.

3. Rapidly notify exactly the right parties when action is needed for a job.
Here, an event such as a production variation or an equipment outage can automatically trigger the best communication method (call, IM, text, email, pager) for alerts, reducing staff involvement and shortening response

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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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