Unified communications gets real with Connection Telecom
For all the talk about unified communications (UC), few companies have delivered a truly connected platform and ecosystem with real business benefit. Cloud-based PBX provider, Connection Telecom, is here to change all that with its Telviva business communication platform.
"Telviva offers interoperability with other communications tools and platforms - but more to the point, also with business applications," says Rob Lith, business development director.
"Communications-enabled business processes (CEBP) are the coalface of UC in the enterprise," he explains. "We hear it all the time from companies; they're looking for practical ways to bring communications into business processes. Anything else is fluff to them."
Connection Telecom's core business area that can benefit from communications enablement is inbound customer support. Lith says Connection Telecom has already built UC into ZenDesk, a leading incident management application.
With hooks into ZenDesk, Telviva connects incoming calls, identifies them by their caller ID, and matches them to a customer profile, which brings up the caller's ZenDesk support history.
"This has obvious benefits for agents' productivity and enrichment of the application in question," Lith says.
How else does UC play out in the world of business process enhancement?
"It might start with a phone call, as with the ZenDesk example, or with an e-mail or chat," says technical director Steve Davies. "It really doesn't matter. The point is UC unifies all the threads of an entity's communication into one fabric. It can manifest itself as the place where a company keeps track of all communications on its various platforms, or with the integration of a company's various address books, or it could be something as simple and practical as right-clicking and calling from the CRM application or looking up the name of a caller in the telephony management system."
Lith says the benefit to integrating address books is quite significant in itself. "People tend to keep their contacts on their cellphone, and will often, for convenience, phone from their mobile, which incurs massive mobile bills for the employer. If people can just as easily look up their contacts on their desktop, for example, they can use their work extension instead."
Be open to it
From a techie point of view, UC is only UC when it's based on open standards - and, preferably, open source. "Open source needn't be open standards-based, of course, but we play in the sweet spot when standards and open source overlap," says Sacha Matulovich, Connection Telecom marketing and sales director.
"If you don't play there, you find yourself in some vendor's walled garden, where a select number of widgets all talk to one another, but others that don't subscribe to their proprietary standard don't connect easily, which reduces the ecosystem somewhat. We don't think it's a good idea to be that beholden. You never know what functionality you may want tomorrow."
As preferred communications trends change over time - for example, from e-mail to instant messaging to mobile to social platforms - UC is the only way for it all to be pulled into one unified place, he adds.
You can do UC
Building UC into your business application is quite easy, says Davies. "In-house development resources can handle it easily, using the Connection Telecom application programming interface (API), which uses the SOAP standard and contains libraries for Java and other languages.
"Everything our customers can do on Telviva from their Web-based console can also be done inside another application, using a simple little script. Make calls out, block extensions when a party reaches their limit, add people into call queues or take them out, schedule automated calls reminding debtors of upcoming payments, record calls, and so on."
It's for everyone
UC can benefit all organisations - from small companies with roving executives and salespersons to large, distributed groups.
In particular, those that value a more consistent customer experience can derive great benefit, Lith continues. This is evident in Connection Telecom's embedding of voice calling functionality into Old Mutual's bespoke lending product, enabling quick and convenient click-to-call functionality.
"Over the years, they have built nine entry points into the organisation - nine numbers people could phone for different areas of the business," he says. "They wanted a more seamless customer experience, and the way it became possible was through UC."
"This is UC at its realest," concludes Lith. "It is open, extensible and scalable - everything any organisation could want in a future-proof communications platform."
Telviva features integration with: ZenDesk incident management; bespoke and off-the-shelf CRM systems; QueueMetrics call centre management; as well as telephony expense management application Clarity from Apex BI; and other telephone management systems. In addition, its own Telviva Vision offers a real-time window into the organisation's PBX, conferencing, directory, call centre queue management and the presence and status of colleagues.
Unified communications can move a business forward; watch this video summary to see how http://telviva.co.za/videos/.