Communications-enabled business process basics

Esna's Davide Petramala explains what you need to know about CEBP, the technologies involved and how it differs from UC.

A communications-enabled business process (CEBP) enhances an enterprise's existing business processes. It can make collaboration within an enterprise more efficient and cut costs. But what, exactly, is CEBP and what technologies are involved? In part one of this Q&A, Davide Petramala, executive vice president of business development and sales at Esna Technologies Inc., discussed communications-enabled business process basics with SearchUnifiedCommunications.

What is a communications-enabled business process? Can you give an example?

It's much easier now to take technology and solve use cases within organization.

Davide Petramala,
executive vice president of business development and sales, Esna Technologies Inc.

Davide Petramala: You have your core lines of business, and within those lines of business, there's a process that an organization follows. … CEBP is about interjecting some live interaction into a sales process, customer service or maybe even an internal ERP [enterprise resource planning] process. … [CEBP adds a] live collaboration or communication element that would improve that process so things can happen more efficiently or in real time.

In the old days, this was about non-real-time notifications. A customer called into customer service, left an urgent message that may notify agents in a queue that someone left this message, [which] would trigger someone to call them back live, versus waiting the next day to email or call back. Today, CEBP has got a much more powerful impact on these lines of business processes. For example, Amazon has that live support with their tablets so that [if] the customer has a problem, instead of calling in to support [and] waiting in a queue, they hit an app that does live video with a live agent. They can interact with somebody on the device they purchased. [They] have totally changed the way you support customers by injecting live collaboration, like video.

Are there other names CEBP is known by?

Petramala: I would argue it's got many different names. CEBP to me is a term that's been coined by the technology industry. I would say that it's not really recognized because of that. Most people who talk about CEBP are technology vendors, and the big flaw with that is they're communicating to the IT department, which is the wrong space of where it's got its value. The value's in the lines of business owners: VP of sales, marketing, customer service. These are the people that have a stake in it, [who] are going to create budgets to implement it. In everyday business, it's not coined as CEBP; it's coined as collaboration or some type of customer service or a live interaction technology. The disconnect is it's being sold by technology vendors to technology people in the industry within the company, and they're the wrong people. They may not have the budget or even understand the use cases, and that's why you haven't seen it take off yet.

What are the main technologies involved in a communications-enabled business process?

Petramala: CEBP has been around for years, so typically most CEBP applications were more like triggers and alarms: an email alarm or an IVR [interactive voice response] call-out. Voice and triggers and alarms were [primarily] used for CEBP. But nowadays voice and video have become a real, dominant element of solving these problems or implementing some value. The real impact of CEBP in the near future with organizations is the way you can leverage voice and video -- especially with the Web and the way you interact with customers to solve or provide more live connections, both solving an internal problem or an external problem. Voice and video are probably the biggest technologies that will have impact on the industry, but they're probably not the most use cases to date. To date, it's been more around notification triggers and alarms to interact with customers, but you'll see that with companies like Twilio and Esna.

Can social networking be part of a communications-enabled business process?

Petramala: Social is a whole element of how we interact both internally and externally in an ongoing basis. How do you manage it, how do you track it, how do you create a connection with those people who are following you or those people who are interested in your product? A lot of the social technology -- [like] what Jive is doing or even Salesforce with Chatter -- some of these initiatives [zero] back in to leveraging voice and video and IM in real-time [collaboration]; not just post and read, but interact more proactively.

[If] you start seeing negative trends, you could immediately interact with groups of people in your social community that could help assist in some of those problems. Some of that might just be live collaboration and a lot of that live collaboration could be voice, video [or] chat. Nowadays, I would argue [that] chat, voice and video are almost equal in importance -- in fact, video and chat even more than voice -- and how [they] can be leveraged as a technology.

How is CEBP different from unified communications [UC]?

Petramala: UC is technology [and] CEBP is a business process -- a use case. There's actually the merging of the two. UC is really just a technology without a use case; CEBP is a use case being solved by a technology. A great way of solving the use case is leveraging UC technology. I can unify the way I can access voice, video and IM, but how do I use it? Where do I use it within my business? How does it actually solve a problem? What are the different departments or use cases within my organization that can leverage it? Companies understand that they take that technology and they wrap it around use cases. In the old days, an organization would have to take all the technology and build a huge customized product or solution that they now had to support and maintain.

Learn more about the basics of communications-enabled business process

Understanding CEBP with unified communications

Case study: Communications-enabled business processes

Now, with companies like Esna, Twilio and others that have off-the-shelf technology that you can leverage and embed with an application, it's much easier to take technology and solve use cases within an organization. You've got technology designed to really be centered [on] the way someone manages the sales department, a customer service organization or the way they leverage their marketing initiatives with their customers.

What do you see in the future for CEBP?

Petramala: I think it's just the beginning. The future is the democratization of video and voice. With WebRTC and the whole advent of what I call consumer-grade video, we take for granted how we can Skype one another or FaceTime each other. That technology is so predominant in the consumer world, it's now coming to the business-to-consumer world. Why couldn't I go to your website, click on a button, video to you and … [answer] questions online immediately versus scheduling a conference call?

So you see the merger of the two: people living in these Web applications and video technologies being embedded in the Web world with things like WebRTC's impact. It's going to be so easy from a cost perspective to implement CEBP [compared with] the past, where it was technology, applications and a massive project to make them work together. Now, with video and voice being so integrated into the Web, people [are] living in the Web to consume applications and to research and do what they do on a daily basis. It's just going to be predominant and easy to integrate this technology within a business process.

Continue reading this Q&A to learn how enterprises can enable CEBP.

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