For young, single professionals, buying a condo as a first home is often a great option. There’s little maintenance and a lot of convenience. But when they get a little older, get married and have a couple of kids, the condo no longer works. They need more space, maybe a yard for the dog, and a family room next to the kitchen to keep an eye on things while fixing dinner.
In the same way, when looking for a communications system, it makes sense to choose one that matches your needs; more specifically, one that fits the way you work today. In Part 1 of this series of posts, we'll look at why a Unified Communications (UC) system is no longer enough, and the benefits to be gained by designing business communications around how work gets done.
Designing Communications Around How Work Gets Done
A communications system designed around hard-wired handsets; siloed marketing automation, CRM and billing systems; and geographically separated networks no longer makes sense where productivity depends upon seamless, integrated, mobile workflows.
To make sure communications are built around workflows – the hundreds and thousands of repetitive, routine functions and processes you use every day to run your business – companies need to view their communications platform as a workflow platform. A workflow platform takes into consideration not just how you handle or process phone calls, but interactive voice response (IVR) and short message service (SMS, or text messages to the non-technical) communications; mobility; and other on premise and/or cloud-based solutions and digital services that keep things flowing.
UC Is Not Enough
According to Irwin Lazar, VP and Service Director at Nemertes Research, UC has merged phone, email, video conferencing, instant messaging and web conferencing, but has not succeeded in integrating these communications vehicles into the business applications that oil everyday workflows.
That, however, is changing.
While not new, the idea of integrating communications and business applications with communications platform as a service (CPaaS) offers software developers a proliferation of tools and technologies to integrate their UC systems with internal and customer-facing workflows and business apps. The challenge is to identify a flexible infrastructure that can conform to specific use cases without businesses having to undergo significant development and technology integration costs.
Increased demand for digital communications services versus hard-wired services is fueling rapid growth in the CPaaS market, which industry analyst group IDC sees rising to $8 billion by 2018. Also driving CPaaS is the transformation of mobile apps into enterprise communications apps, a fact buoyed by ZK Research, which reports that 65% of workers will opt to use a mobile device for business purposes by 2019.
Benefits of Integrating Communications with Workflows
Integrating communications with other business systems that make up workflows, like CRM systems, billing applications, contact center reporting packages and IVR programs, accrues tremendous benefits to businesses, their employees and especially their customers.
For businesses, streamlined communications-based workflows mean greater efficiency, higher productivity and, ultimately, greater profitability. In fact, according to ZK Research organizations embracing digital services available via a communications platform are 26% more profitable than those that don’t. By optimizing appointment scheduling, for example, you can reduce missed appointments and recapture potential lost revenue. Automated authentication processes can be integrated with communications to increase data security. Advanced analytics built into today’s communications systems can also provide insights into workflow efficiencies to ensure continuous improvement.
On a day-to-day basis, building communications around workflows benefits employees. It makes their jobs easier so they’re more productive, happier campers. Automating repetitive, time-consuming manual processes such as reminder and follow-up calls not only saves time, but eliminates duplicate processes that can often lead to errors. And the ability to communicate instantly with other team members via IM and chat fosters greater collaboration, especially when most of the workforce is mobile.
Speaking of mobility, the 451 Research U.S. Consumer Mobility Survey found that customers now prefer to communicate with businesses via mobile phone versus more traditional channels like the home phone and email. A workflow-based communications system that makes customers’ lives easier with 24/7 IVR applications, for example, helps businesses deliver better service – on their customers’ timetable.
For Future Reference
What business workflows could you improve by integrating your communications system with them? Leave us a comment below, then watch for upcoming posts with specific tips on how to plan effective, communications-based workflows. Can’t wait? Learn more by downloading our white paper, “Beyond Technology: Planning Business Communications Around Core Workflows” now. (It’s free!)