Enterprises can use big data techniques to improve collaboration and user productivity, said Mohammad Nezarati, CEO of Esna Technologies. The 20-year-old unified communications and collaboration (UCC) company, which specializes in integrating UCC infrastructure with cloud applications, is exploring how big data analytics can mine information from user activity to improve productivity.
Where is the integration between unified communications and big data?
Mohammad Nezarati: UC touches so many different elements: your emails, phone calls, geo-location, calendar, contacts … social and other applications. We're touching so many different elements of a person's daily interaction that pulling that all together and building a profile for that person is where we're looking at mining that data to provide meaningful results, both for the individual as well as for the company. It's not intersecting yet as a business intelligence tool, but we see how UC and big data can intersect with one another.
How do you take unstructured unified communications data and make it useful?
Nezarati: Esna has built a lot of algorithms that look at people's trends -- what they're doing, how they're doing things, how often they're doing them. We're taking all of those trends into account to build a profile of what that person is doing and how it relates to other people. For example, if I've never talked to Company A, but I have a sales person who is talking to Company A a lot, it may be interesting for that person to know that now I've been in contact with them. Or, as I'm contacting that company, [I can] say, 'By the way, there's another person in [my] company [who's] pretty intimate with [your] company.' Structuring that data in terms of communications and looking at both the individual and organizational levels in which those communications are made helps out. Another example of where we think this interaction can be useful is where a client calls a support desk and they spend X number of hours on a support call or they have an email to Support that's gone unanswered. The account manager for that customer may want to know that your customer just called Support or has emailed Support, but has not received a reply in the prescribed 3-hour period.
What elements of unified communications data contribute to big data analytics?
[Communications data analytics] is socializing people's activities within an organization and in a much more natural way.
CEO, Esna Technologies
Nezarati: If you think about UC, it used to be about phones and broadcasting to multiple devices and so on. Now UC is multiple elements: There's phone calls, emails, chat sessions, video sessions on various different platforms, physical meetings that are in our calendars, etc. Being aware of all the interactions that a person is doing … we can intersect all of those elements and now provide a rich map of what that person has done. On an individual basis, it would be useful for me to know that these are the calls I've made and how much time I've spent on the phone, like a weekly or daily summary of my activities. Also, from a social standpoint, it is providing a means to automatically share activities that are of interest to other people, by again, looking at their interactions and providing those elements to those users.
Who would this UC big data most benefit? Could anyone at an organization benefit from communication data, or is it suited only for marketers and call center agents?
Nezarati: [Communications data provides] rich support and relationship management. The benefit would be from an administrative or corporate legal standpoint. For example, if Samsung has a lawsuit against Apple and Apple wanted to know all of the interactions between Apple and Samsung, you could pull up a graph and see all of these interactions between all the various different employees pretty quickly. From a call center or an account management sales side, [communications data helps] keep the sales person or support people involved in all aspects of a client's interactions with an organization. We also see the benefit of keeping other people within your organization aware of what else is going on in the company. If I work a lot with IBM, it may be interesting for me to know that somebody else is meeting with people from IBM. I may want to reach out to them and say, 'I see you've met with IBM. Tell me about that.' It's socializing people's activities within an organization and in a much more natural way, because that person may not naturally think about sharing what they've done. … The fact that there was an interaction between people that are important to me may actually be very significant.
How does unified communications data help companies collaborate?
Nezarati: People are trying to find better value from [social tools]. There are some companies that do it really well, but most companies I've interacted with are having trouble trying to get their people to magically collaborate -- because you may not naturally think to share a phone call within your company. You may think of a couple people you work with regularly to let them know about it, but people who work on the other side of the world, who work in different areas, who may be working on something similar, may never get to know about it. So the ease of social sharing of what people are doing on a daily basis is a big problem that needs to be solved. If I work in a department of 20 people, I may be sharing what I do with those guys in a water cooler-type discussion, but it may not lead out of that department to other people unless I happen to mention it in passing to someone. The idea of breaking down those walls is what we're trying to do: Figure out who else is using that information. And UC is uniquely poised to mine that data.
This was first published in August 2013