Aspect, a vendor of contact center software, published a survey of 300 European organizations about their attitudes toward unified communications. It has some of the usual banal findings (85% of respondents believe UC improves customer satisfaction and 67% believe it will deliver cost advantages within three to five years).
The interesting nugget of research is sort of tucked away in the published findings: People are sharply divided over who should be driving investment in unified communications technology for contact centers. Fifty percent say it should be handled by IT organizations while 50% said it should be driven by customer service organizations. What if the survey offered respondents a third possible answer, such as, “Investment should be driven equally by the IT organization and the customer service organization?” I imagine we’d see a lot of agreement on that option.
This week I’ve been hearing rumors that Avaya has laid off a bunch of employees this month. Avaya went private back in 2007, so I doubt they’ll release any specific information on the extent of the layoffs and where they are occurring. But I did reach out to their PR folks to ask them what was going on.
Lynn Newman, Avaya’s director of corporate communications sent me this statement.
In December, we told our employees we’d be reducing the size of our workforce in response to the global economic slowdown. The notifications about reductions are happening in different regions at different times.
Avaya’s situation isn’t unique. Plenty of companies that play in the UC market are having layoffs, just like any other industry. Microsoft and Cisco both laid people off a few months ago. No one is immune, sadly.
While flying NWA recently, as recently as January, I picked up their WorldTraveler magazine expecting to find the usual travel fodder about exotic vacation spots, spa treatments and where to find the best jambalaya in New Orleans when, to my surprise, the following title caught my eye: Taking care of Business: How social-networking sites can help you win friends/colleagues/contracts and influence people.
I was particularly interested that the words “business” and “social networking” were kindly sharing space within the same title – almost like they were meant to be there together. Hum? In my opinion, these words should rarely, if ever, be separated. Not that I’m all about business, or that I’m not a social person, but I will confess that I’ve grown quite weary of reading about who’s walking their English bulldog, or who’s finally reached that cobweb in the top corner of their office that’s been the bane of their existence for at least days, etc. Sorry mom and probably ex-best friend!
I want to see what these fantastic collaboration tools can do once the worlds of business and social networking truly collide in some fabulous cosmic wonder.
There are sites aimed at business professionals that are doing quite well, but have yet to reach their full potential. For example, in the NWA article, a woman starting a new online fashion marketplace used Facebook’s, “What’s on your mind?” box to solicit expertise from her alma mater’s alumni list, and within minutes had viable, expert offers from her friends/associates to help get her site off and running.
I have many other examples of enterprise-level companies leveraging these tools to their competitive advantage, either through successful marketing campaigns, to solicit honest feedback from customers, and resolving internal issues in a timely way. I’ll get into that in later blogs.
It’s sites like LinkedIn, Socialtext and Jive software that are offering more work-centric networks by limiting the “friends” list to customers and colleagues and even to specific projects. These are the sites that are currently holding my attention.
According the Socialtext site, Socialtext Workspace is an easy-to-use enterprise wiki that reduces by 1/3 the time your staff spends searching for information and people every day, and speeds up cycle times in every function across the organization.
1/3 of one’s time is a big number to support. I’m interested to know if any of our readers are finding themselves with that much time on their hands by using Socialtext?
From the Socialtext Workspace page:
How often do you ask yourself, “Where was it I saw that? Who sent it? When did they send it? What was the file called?” When we use e-mail and attached documents to get our work done, topics get fragmented across many places. According to IDC, employees spend up to 25% of their day looking for information. The process of getting work done involves a series of conversations – asking questions and gathering ideas and feedback. Instead of fragmenting a topic across different places, you need a single go-to place for each topic. And your conversations need to be released from the constraints of a document paradigm, so with each interaction you get the full context of the who, what and why.
A single go-place for a topic? That’s Martha-Stewart quality organization. That’s what I need. I’m guessing that’s what most of us could use. Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president with Yankee group, says they [social networking sites] allow users to self create communities for ad hoc or structured collaboration and that they are an important part of enterprise collaboration. Well, say no more, Zeus. We’re with you!
Here’s some of the cool tools Socialtext offers:
- Socialtext Workspace for group collaboration with tagging, search, notifications, and email integration, all on WYSIWYG-editable web pages.
- Socialtext People for integrated social networking, following and keeping up with others.
- Socialtext Dashboard, the personal home page that lets you focus your attention on what’s most important.
Apparently users should stay alert because there more innovative (and commonsensical) ways to incorporate social networking sites into viable collaboration tools for your business coming soon. Goody!
Hello world, this is Shamus McGillicuddy, news editor at SearchUnifiedCommunications.com. I will be a regular contributor to Unified Communications Nation. I hope this blog becomes a good place for you to visit when you want to keep up on what’s happening in the UC industry, or maybe when you just want to blow off some steam and have a laugh.
And with that in mind, blowing off steam is probably something enterprise communications managers need a lot of help with. I’m thinking of fairly common headaches. For instance, you switch over your legacy voice system to a new IP telephony platform. And overnight your staff emails instructions on how to use the new phones to every user. Just to cover your bases, you make sure to leave a printed set of those instructions on every desk. And yet, dozens of users still manage to delete the email and recycle the print outs without even reading them. Then they flood your team with complaints such as “On the old phones I had to dial 9 to get an outside line. Now I don’t. That’s so confusing.”
If you were Frank Costanza from “Seinfeld,” then you would probably bellow something like “Serenity now!” to keep your blood pressure down when faced with a snafu like that. But I’d like to propose a new mantra, or catch phrase for the guys managing voice and video.
I’m thinking of a phrase that would simultaneously help you blow off steam and allow you to say what you’d really like to say to the users who keep misusing the communications technology you’ve carefully installed for them. That perfect phrase, that when spoken with the right amount of rage and contempt, just fills your heart with glee. And it was spoken so perfectly by a fine actor just 27 years ago.
Let me know what you think.
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