• Service providers are taking advantage of the rise in cloud services to create managed service bundles, providing small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) with a one-stop shop for solutions delivered at a single monthly rate.
• SMBs have an increasing array of options to support a move away from capital investment to an operational expense model, managed service bundles offer the potential to reduce complexity and manage costs.
SMBs, defined by Current Analysis as those with 20 to 500 employees, represent a sizable segment of communications users. Tier 1 providers such as AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon have typically served this segment with business bundles that package business lines and Internet service under a single monthly fee for very small businesses, and PRIs and network-hosted VoIP for larger SMBs. Over the last several years, and coincident with the rise of new competitors in the form of cable operators such as Comcast Business and Time Warner Cable Business and over-the-top providers such as 8×8, major service providers have reinforced their focus on the SMB segment, reshaping partner strategies, adding tools and portals, and expanding VoIP and UC solutions to include managed bundle offers that frees SMBs from the task of managing communications services.
Enterprises are moving beyond foundational collaboration technologies to embrace cloud and mobility options.
Cloud-based contact center services and video are gaining ground with enterprises.
In August 2014, Current Analysis completed primary research regarding current and planned enterprise investment in four areas: cloud, mobility, network and collaboration services. The research utilized a wide ranging survey of enterprise IT executives, most of whom were responsible for defining, evaluating and selecting the providers and services used by their company. The majority of the companies surveyed had between 100 and 5,000 employees, although there were several with up to 10,000 or more employees. Continue reading “Enterprise Uptake of Collaboration Services Gains Ground; Cloud Contact, Mobility and Video Lead the Way”→
Video and WebRTC occupy a major role for Enterprise Connect conference sessions as well as planned announcements.
Cloud and mobility are constants in the collaboration marketplace, as enterprises increasingly embrace usage-based collaboration and communications solutions as well as manage employee demand for mobility options.
Next week, I will join my colleagues in Orlando, Florida at Enterprise Connect, one of the longest-running voice/UC/collaboration trade shows in the industry and a great opportunity to spend some time with companies I speak with frequently and get a look at new entrants to the market. A quick glance down a recent list of upcoming show announcements included (not surprisingly) a long list of WebRTC and video-related launches along with a healthy dose of contact center enhancements. I’m particularly interested to get an update on where WebRTC stands in the collaboration and communications service landscape. Last year, WebRTC figured prominently at Enterprise Connect, with an entire mini-conference on the topic, and that is the case again in 2014. WebRTC is still in its early stages: there are a number of aspects of the service still under development, and WebRTC is still not supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer or Apple Safari web browsers. Over the long term, WebRTC has the potential to be a real disrupter in the market, letting vendors and service providers implement easy-to-use voice and video applications for B2B and B2C communications. Video, specifically ‘personal’ desktop applications, is another topic that seems to be generating a fair bit of buzz and publicity in advance of the show, as providers add services and features that take the complexity out of video conferencing in a bid to make it as easy to use as audio. Continue reading “Enterprise Connect 2014: WebRTC and Video to Occupy Center Stage”→
Context is an important element in helping contact center agents respond to customer needs efficiently; it also supports cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Customer online activity provides a wealth of information; using this data in real time to address negative experiences supports customer retention and protects brand perception.
Everyone should be well aware that every time a mouse is clicked on a website or a call is made to purchase a product or service, both transactional and personal information is collected in a database. Contact center operators collect a wealth of information from customer interactions; this information is often stored and reviewed at some later date for a variety of purposes, including employee training, outbound marketing campaigns and customer satisfaction surveys. Continue reading “Contextual Routing Takes Contact Center Efficiency, and Customer Satisfaction, Up a Notch”→
2013 UC announcements from service providers led with hosted PBX, UCaaS and mobility solutions.
UC options for SMEs grew as carriers focused on adding BYOD and contact center features to solutions.
U.S. Tier 1 providers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon began launching their Cisco HCS and Microsoft Lync-based solutions for U.S.-based large enterprises and multinationals in 2011, and in 2012, we began to see UC options emerge for U.S. medium businesses and small enterprises (companies with 50-500 employees, defined as ‘mid-market’ for the remainder of this post). While there are many premises-based SIP trunking solutions in the market today, much of the activity in 2013 centered on expansion of hosted UC solutions and the addition of mobility and contact center capabilities. Continue reading “UC Year in Review: Hosted Services and Mobility Lead in 2013”→
The contact center is a critical element in building customer satisfaction and improving the customer experience; agents’ ability to respond to customer requirements effectively can set the tone for future business or sour the relationship.
A recent survey from Dimension Data highlights declines in customer satisfaction and first call resolution rates. Contact center operators need to ensure coordination across contact center operations and provide agents with the tools and processes to resolve an issue or escalate that first call as frequently as possible.
Dimension Data recently completed its annual Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, a global survey of 817 contact centers. The Summary Report included some interesting findings in the area of customer satisfaction and first contact resolution: customer satisfaction scores have declined from 82% to 77% from 2011 to 2013, and first contact resolution rates have dropped a whopping 12%, from 85% to 73% from 2009 to 2013. These declines are surprising given increased enterprise focus on the customer experience during these time periods, the growth in customer data collection, and the improvements that have been made to contact center tools and multi-channel agent contact options. Continue reading “Tis the Season for Contact Centers: Give Agents the Tools for a Happy Holiday”→
Business video usage is increasing, but growth is still comparatively slow.
Increasing adoption of business video involves a culture shift that needs to be driven from the top down; executives and managers must champion video usage internally, making it the norm rather than the exception.
Business video communications continues to be a hot topic, evolving from a special event hosted in expensive telepresence rooms to a mainstream UC feature available on any device. While some carriers have indicated that business video growth is not yet widespread, Current Analysis research did find that enterprise employees’ usage of ad hoc reservationless services such as Skype was much higher than usage of business video platforms from providers such as WebEx. As with mobile communications, business video is being driven from the consumer base: people that have used Skype for years as consumers are bringing this practice into the workplace. Continue reading “Business Video Moves Towards the Mainstream”→
Verizon has completely redesigned its service delivery model, fundamentally changing its approach and supporting technologies, as well as organization and process flows.
The initiative, dubbed ‘Rapid Delivery,’ has increased operational efficiency, leading to reductions in the time required for quotes, orders and contracting. Tightened data integrity means greater accuracy throughout the sales process.
Improving the customer experience is on every carrier’s radar. One of the charges often levied against very large carriers (and large companies in general for that matter) is that it’s often difficult to get things done. If there is a service or billing error, resolution can become a time-consuming, frustrating effort for the customer. Over the last several years, a number of providers have invested in initiatives to improve customer self-service tools such as portals as well as internal tools used by sales and support teams. Revamping the customer engagement process from pre-sales through deployment and ongoing support is a daunting task for any provider, but for carriers that have grown through acquisition, consolidating multiple systems and processes acquired over many years adds another layer of complexity to an already sensitive, complicated mission. Verizon is one of those providers that has taken on the challenge; so far, it seems to be making exceptional headway in its efforts. Continue reading “Verizon’s Rapid Delivery Initiative Improves Efficiency and the Customer Experience”→
Communications-enabling business processes optimizes individual and workgroup productivity, and adding visual communications takes this concept up a notch, moving past enterprise video calls to broader uses: if an alarm is triggered in a remote location, responders can gain visibility into the cause and severity of the problem; healthcare workers can monitor and talk to patients in rural areas; wireless cameras in emergency vehicles or worn by first responders give support staff an immediate view of a situation while the responder performs their duty.
Enterprises may not grasp the full potential benefit of integrating UCC features, including visual communications, into business processes and applications at the outset of a UCaaS deployment, but as user adoption grows, the benefits of this integration become apparent.
In early 2012, I wrote a blog post about the role of communication-enabled business process in the uptake of UC. At that time, I’d noted that the opportunity to integrate communications features into specific business processes and applications potentially supported a more compelling business case for deployment; if a company started by integrating UCC features into just one business application or for one part of the organization, then they might start to see how this model could replicated in other areas of the company to improve productivity and communications, tipping the scales towards a broader implementation. Continue reading “Video Adds Value to UCaaS Integration into Business Processes”→