Businesses, like people, must evolve or perish. One of the trends that smart businesses have been adopting amid weak consumer spending and increased global competition is collaborative conversation — leveraging the power of unified communications (UC) in combination with other work flow productivity tools.
As highlighted in a recent Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) whitepaper, Enabling collaborative conversation experiences with agile, cost-effective IT, optimization of collaborative conversation capabilities is a way to reduce an organization’s silos of knowledge and create a collaborative environment where employees, partners and vendors share information and insight any time, any place, with minimal latency. Using the network to establish this environment translates into more performance and creativity, enabling faster and smarter decisions that enable an organization to differentiate itself from the competition and add more top-line value.
“The advantage of collaborative conversations is that they span an organization’s front and back office so that the whole company engages with a customer as one unit,” Alcatel-Lucent noted in the paper. “Collaboration across boundaries can help give employees a 360-degree view on any topic, providing them with the knowledge and confidence to resolve customer issues, making them more engaged towards customers, and enabling them to provide a more consistent customer experience.”
The collaborative conversation process is more than just document sharing, however.
“True collaboration relies on contextual communications — threading the business context and valuable data across interactions/devices/networks,” Alcatel-Lucent explained. This means combining unified communications and collaboration with context-aware computing.
Unified communications and collaboration move workers out of their silos, creating a rich environment where chat, screen-sharing and video conferencing can seamlessly blend together whether the worker is in the office or on a worksite with his/her mobile phone. Context and integration optimize the value of these interactions in a seamless and secure manner.
In fact, context is about including as much knowledge as can be transmitted over multiple media. This means inclusion of things like extended presence/user status information, historical data, and real-time physical location, among others, according to the paper.
“The main barrier to adoption of new communication tools is the reality that, historically, tools are piled on top of tools or processes on top or processes — without linkages or integration — thus, in effect, creating more work for employees,” the paper notes.
A comprehensive solution set that provides the establishment and nurturing of a collaborative conversation environment is Alcatel-Lucent’s OpenTouch™. It is a communications platform that includes:
- Real-time dynamic conferencing
- User-centric connections
- Meaningful presence information
- Native video capabilities
- Social knowledge and applications context
Leveraging legacy platforms through an open SIP-based architecture, OpenTouch takes the tools of unified communication and provides the context that makes the process transformative.
As Alcatel-Lucent says, “OpenTouch makes mobility a natural extension of the communication, collaboration, sharing and multi-tasking experience…Virtual workforces can effectively engage through one-on-one, one-to-many or interactive work group sessions as distance between employees become a detail.”
Business process optimization is high on the list with improving customer experiences and risk mitigation (aka security) as prime reasons for enterprises of all sizes to invest the upgrading or replacement of their legacy communications systems. Creating an environment of collaborative conversation is the forward for improving the first two objectives, and can be done in a manner that is not just high-performance but safe and secure.
Putting the best tools in the right hands at the right time is the path to better performance. Collaborative conversations are how that can be realized.
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Edited by Peter Bernstein