Tablets and CEBP poised to deliver the long-anticipated killer UC app—mobility.
The concept behind communications-enabled business processes (CEBP) is to enhance existing business processes by embedding them with unified communications (UC) tools. A very simple example would be embedding click-to-call capabilities into any application, making it easier and faster to call an individual. This capability has been around for some time now with limited success in areas such as call centers and help desks. In my opinion, one of the main barriers to traditional CEBP is that the value is somewhat limited to the desk-bound worker.
When workers are at their desk, manually switching between disparate applications and communications tools that aren’t tied together—like they would be with CEPB—is inconvenient, but in-office workers have found ways to work around the inconvenience of having non-unified tools. However, when a worker is mobile, switching between communications mediums can be difficult, if not impossible, to do depending on the circumstance.
This is why I’ve always felt that although there is no true killer UC app, mobility may be the best contender for the killer UC application title. I’ve been doing research in the area of UC for a long time, and while I think there’s tremendous value in deploying UC, the unique challenges of mobile work punctuates the need for comprehensive UC.
When workers are using a mobile device, they are most likely doing something that constrains their ability to easily move between the mediums. They could be walking through an airport, driving or standing on a train, et, so the simple act of clicking a phone number embedded into an email has much more value compared to the alternative of trying to write the number down on something while walking and then dialing. And this is how tablet computing can enhance the value of CEPB.
Tablets are great devices. Naysayers of tablets tend to focus on the fact that they are, in general, smaller than laptops and more difficult to type on. However, tablets have many features that laptops don’t. Integrating these features—like accelerometers, compasses, GPS, location information, cameras and touch screens— into CEBP can make tablets much more valuable than a traditional desktop application in the following ways:
- Pre-population of information. Because a tablet understands where you are, who you are, what direction you’re moving and what’s around you, the information that a worker might normally have to type into an application can be automatically pre-populated.
- Mobility. The mobile aspect of a tablet means a field service worker, line of business manager or anyone else can take the application that drives the process with them. For example, a field service technician can access real-time information when and where the information is needed, streamlining the task at hand.
- Real-time access to subject matter experts. Embedding presence into applications on a mobile device means that the mobile worker is able to quickly tell who is available at any moment in time. This prevents the mobile worker from having to place several phone calls or send multiple emails out until the expert is located.
- Mobile video. All of the enterprise-grade tablets, which include Cisco Cius, Avaya Flare and BlackBerry Playbook, have cameras embedded in them. This allows a remote worker to invoke mobile video conferencing sessions wherever the user happens to be. Additionally, a worker could use the camera to take pictures and instantly upload them. This could be particularly helpful for someone like a remote technician who can use a picture to help identify a problem rather than trying to describe it verbally.
Ultimately a tablet can give better real-time access to real-time business intelligence information. Tablets can give the ability to collaborate faster and more effectively, and they can also enhance a mobile worker’s productivity. Corporate tablets can play a key role in making a company’s CEBP implementation a success.
Take a look at tablets and CEBP in action with Cisco's Cius tablet and Extended Results’ WorkPlace for Mobile.
About the author:
Zeus Kerravala, Yankee Group senior vice president and distinguished research fellow, leads the firm's Research Council and is chartered with the responsibility of providing thought leadership to the research organization. Comprising senior research leaders, the Research Council provides outreach to clients and the broader Yankee Group community, as well as ensures that the company's research agenda addresses the needs of business leaders. Kerravala drives the strategic thinking of the research organization and helps shape the research direction. Much of Kerravala's expertise involves working with customers to solve their business issues through the deployment of infrastructure technology.