Integrate Communications Applications
to improve Productivity & Efficiency
CEBP (communication-enabled business
process) aims to bring together email, phones, instant messaging, social
networking, and any other form of communication on the same network. In
essence, CEBP integrates your communication infrastructure with your business
processes in a way that improves efficiency and lessens the effects of human
"CEBP reduces the delays inherent when
a business problem or opportunity requires human intervention," says Art
Schoeller, principal analyst at Forrester Research (www.forrester.com).
"When you connect the business event to a communications system that is
aware of the availability of key people, you can improve the speed and effectiveness
of the processes related to that event."
(communication-enabled business process) aims to bring together email, phones,
instant messaging, social networking, and any other form of communication on
the same network.
The possibilities and potential for CEBP
are essentially endless, depending on how you decide to use it for your
specific business purposes. But CEBP isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. In
fact, there are multiple versions of the technology that have varying featuresets and different
use cases. So, before you decide to adopt a CEBP solution, make sure you choose
the setup that is right for your company and employees.
Five levels of CEBP
According to Info Tech Research Group
(www.infotech.com), a CEBP deployment has five distinct levels. The idea is to
start at level one and move up to subsequent levels as your CEBP needs change.
James McCloskey, senior research analyst with Info Tech, says the first level
of CEBP only requires that companies have a converged network where IP
telephony, QoS (quality of service), and maybe some video conferencing are on
the same network. Many companies already have this type of network in place.
To reach the second level of CEBP, you simply enhance the toolset you already
have in place by bringing in more applications and placing them on that same
converged network. For instance, McCloskey says, you may add "desktop voice,
instant messaging, video and Web conferencing, desktop chat, and other
disparate pieces of IP communications technology that all ride on the same
The third level is where you'll begin to
use these separate applications together to speed up the communication process
and improve overall productivity, which is where UC (unified communications)
come into play. The goal is to provide consistent presence information across
multiple endpoints, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
"You get to this idea of unified interface where people are using these
tools in a consistent way throughout the organization and they know they can
rely on it," says McCloskey. You can check someone's status and feel
confident knowing whether he is available.
It is at this third level that companies
will see improvements in business efficiency because "instead of picking up
the phone and leaving messages, you're able to contact individuals via their
preferred method at a given moment," McCloskey says. He adds that this is
also the level at which "most organizations can get a pretty significant
benefit" from implementing CEBP; moving on to a higher level may not be
necessary depending on your company needs.
Professional Services Opportunities
Level four introduces full integration of
UC toolsets into a company's "productivity applications, business apps,
customer service, and contact center," says McCloskey. This is the stage
where you can be working on a Word document or spreadsheet, realize you need
clarification on a certain fact or figure, and then contact someone
"immediately, without leaving Excel," he explains.
In a similar fashion, this level can
improve a company's overall customer service. For instance, if a representative
is on the phone with a customer, he can view his colleague's status regardless
of where she is currently located or what device she is using. "If you
look at enterprise content management systems or process workflows, that's
where being able to reach out and find the available subject matter expert
reduces the cycle time or lag associated with asynchronous communication,"
The fifth level is unique in that you are
"fully optimizing some of your business workflows using communication
tools," says McCloskey. To explain further, he uses an example of a
manufacturing company and its production floor. In the past companies had to
create their own alert systems, but through the use of CEBP, they can now set
up automatic alerts. The CEBP system can use the UC infrastructure to pinpoint
the exact person to contact. At that point, McCloskey explains, you can set up
a "dynamic collaboration space, so you can get people to join in and
effectively collaborate on whatever the problem is."
Examples of potential CEBP use cases
As you determine which stage of CEBP is the
best fit for your specific needs, you should consider potential use cases for
CEBP in your organization. In addition to McCloskey's man ufacturing floor
example, there are many other potential uses, as well. For instance, a popular
fitness franchise with 370 clubs throughout the U.S. uses CEBP to locate
managers when administrator-only changes need to be made at certain facilities,
according to Bern Elliot, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner
(www.gartner.com). The application uses the activated GPS on a manager's phone
to pinpoint his exact location and determine whether that individual is the
best person to address the issue.
This franchise also uses CEBP to schedule
replacements in case of trainer illness or unavailability. "This
scheduling application notices that it's within a certain time of a class and a
substitute is needed because someone has called in a cancellation or has gone
online into the scheduling app and said they're not available," Elliot explains.
"The manger gets this pop up, which is an app executed within the program
that gives him the order in which he should call [substitutes]. If he clicks on
call and talks to them, he can conclude the call by saying they are available
or unavailable as a substitute, or he can call someone else."
In another instance, CEBP is as a system
that "monitors the health of a fleet of power plants and can identify a
key problem at a particular plant that requires immediate attention."
Schoeller explains that the system automatically searches through all available
individuals "with the right skills and sets up a Web and audio
conferencing session with them." Because problems at power plants can
sometimes result in catastrophic events, CEBP is absolutely essential to
speeding up the problem-solving process.
Cost vs. Benefit
Not all CEBP deployments are a fit for
every company. One reason for this is due to the cost associated with the
technology. "The key consideration for whether or not to move up to one
of those higher levels of CEBP maturity is to determine if you have a true
tangible return on that additional investment," says McCloskey.
"Typically, you're going to be talking about additional software
licensing, software integration elements, and perhaps some custom development
for your internal applications to be able to call out to these and use them
effectively." As you can imagine, the cost of these individual elements
can really start to add up.
To help companies efficiently incur the
costs and not purchase more than they need, McCloskey recommends that they
start slowly with CEBP, rather than jump in "whole hog with a full blown
UC program licensed for all of your users." You should "get the
basics, identify a very specific use case, work with each issue individually,
and then take a look at how you can repurpose those same investments." If
you can start by solving one pressing issue, then you may be able to use that
initial investment to move CEBP into parts of your company you hadn't
previously thought of.
Aiming for a natural user experience
Aside from integrating a company's
communication and business process, one of the major goals of CEBP is to make
the entire experience feel as natural and intuitive as possible. Eventually,
Elliot says CEBP will become such a large part of doing business that it will
feel completely natural. Companies will forget the ways of the past where
applications were separate and contacting somebody meant dialing a number and
hoping they would pick up. In other words, CEBP can help companies reach
efficiency goals they only previously dreamed of. And the great news is you
probably already have a head start.