Specific Information/Images courtesy of IBM (link) and Wikipedia
Unified communications & collaboration is the integration of real-time, enterprise, communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, voice (including IP telephony), mobility features (including extension mobility and single number reach), audio, web & video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), desktop sharing, data sharing (including web connected electronic interactive whiteboards), call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax). UC&C is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user-interface and user-experience across multiple devices and media-types.
In its broadest sense, UC&C can encompass all forms of communications that are exchanged via a network to include other forms of communications such as Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and digital signage Communications as they become an integrated part of the network communications deployment and may be directed as one-to-one communications or broadcast communications from one to many.
UC&C allows an individual to send a message on one medium, and receive the same communication on another medium. For example, one can receive a voicemail message and choose to access it through e-mail or a cell phone. If the sender is online according to the presence information and currently accepts calls, the response can be sent immediately through text chat or video call. Otherwise, it may be sent as a non-real-time message that can be accessed through a variety of media.
There are varying definitions for unified communications and collaboration. A basic definition is "communications integrated to optimize business processes and increase user productivity," but such integration can take many forms, such as: users simply adjusting their habits, manual integration as defined by procedures and training, integration of communications into off-the-shelf tools such as Outlook, Notes, BlackBerry, Salesforce.com, etc., or purpose-specific integration into customized applications in specific operating departments or in vertical markets such as healthcare.
Unified communications is an evolving set of technologies that automates and unifies human and device communications in a common context and experience. It optimizes business processes and enhances human communications by reducing latency, managing flows, and eliminating device and media dependencies.
With unified communications, multiple modes of business communications are integrated. Unified communications is not a single product but a collection of elements that includes:
- Call control and multimodal communications
- Instant messaging
- Unified messaging
- Speech access and personal assistant
- Conferencing (audio, Web and video)
- Collaboration tools
- Business process integration (BPI)
- Software to enable business process integration
- BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
A call centre or call center is a centralised office used for receiving or transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone. An inbound call centre is operated by a company to administer incoming product support or information inquiries from consumers. Outbound call centres are operated for telemarketing, solicitation of charitable or political donations, debt collection, market research, insurance companies, vehicle tracking and support, proactive private law enforcement and other such needs.
A call centre has an open workspace for call centre agents, with work stations that include a computer for each agent, a telephone set/headset connected to a telecom switch, and one or more supervisor stations. It can be independently operated or networked with additional centres, often linked to a corporate computer network, including mainframes, microcomputers and LANs. Increasingly, the voice and data pathways into the centre are linked through a set of new technologies called computer telephony integration. Modern Call Centres can also be “standby” stations that can be activated on a need basis to assist companies with overflow call volumes, to take over in the event a company’s infrastructure goes down, or any other such requirements.
Virtual Call Centres
In virtual call centre model, the call centre's operator pays a monthly or annual fee to a vendor that hosts the call centre telephony equipment in their own data centre. In this model, the operator does not own, operate or host the equipment that the call centre runs on. Agents connect to the vendor's equipment through traditional PSTN telephone lines, or over voice over IP. Calls to and from prospects or contacts originate from or terminate at the vendor's data centre, rather than at the call centre operator's premise. The vendor's telephony equipment then connects the calls to the call centre operator's agents.
Virtual call centre technology allows people to work from home, instead of in a traditional, centralised, call centre location, which increasingly allows people with physical or other disabilities that prevent them from leaving the house, to work. The only thing that is mandatory is to have an Internet access and a workstation.
Call Centre Cloud
Cloud computing for call centres extends cloud computing to software as a service, or hosted, on-demand call centres by providing application programming interfaces (APIs) on the call centre cloud computing platform that allow call centre functionality to be integrated with cloud-based customer relationship management, leads management, and other applications. Computer telephony integration APIs provide developers with access to basic telephony controls and sophisticated call handling on the call centre platform from a separate application. Configuration APIs provide programmatic control of administrative functions of the call centre platform which are typically accessed by a human administrator through a graphical user interface.
Knowing where intended recipients are, and if they are available, in real time is a key component of unified communications. Unified communications integrates all systems a user might already use, and helps those systems work together in real time. For example, unified communications technology could allow a user to seamlessly collaborate with another person on a project, even if the two users are in separate locations. The user could quickly locate the necessary person by accessing an interactive directory, engage in a text messaging session, and then escalate the session to a voice call, or even a video call.
In another example, an employee receives a call from a customer who wants answers. Unified communications enables that employee to call an expert colleague from a real-time list. This way, the employee can answer the customer faster by eliminating rounds of back-and-forth e-mails and phone-tag.
Telepresence refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance of being present, or to have an effect, via tele robotics, at a place other than their true location.
Telepresence requires that the users' senses be provided with such stimuli as to give the feeling of being in that other location. Additionally, users may be given the ability to affect the remote location. In this case, the user's position, movements, actions, voice, etc. may be sensed, transmitted and duplicated in the remote location to bring about this effect. Therefore information may be traveling in both directions between the user and the remote location.
A popular application is found in telepresence videoconferencing, the highest possible level of video telephony. Telepresence via video deploys greater technical sophistication and improved fidelity of both sight and sound than in traditional videoconferencing.
Technical advancements in mobile collaboration have also extended the capabilities of videoconferencing beyond the boardroom for use with hand-held mobile devices, enabling collaboration independent of location.
Voice over IP (VoIP) is a methodology and group of technologies for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. Other terms commonly associated with VoIP are IP telephony, Internet telephony, broadband telephony, and broadband phone service.
A major development that started was the introduction of mass-market VoIP services that utilize existing broadband Internet access, by which subscribers place and receive telephone calls in much the same manner as they would via the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Full-service VoIP phone companies provide inbound and outbound service with direct inbound dialling. Many offer unlimited domestic calling for a flat monthly subscription fee. This sometimes includes international calls to certain countries. Phone calls between subscribers of the same provider are usually free when flat-fee service is not available. A VoIP phone is necessary to connect to a VoIP service provider.
Corporate IP Telephony
Because of the bandwidth efficiency and low costs that VoIP technology can provide, businesses are migrating from traditional copper-wire telephone systems to VoIP systems to reduce their monthly phone costs.
VoIP solutions aimed at businesses have evolved into unified communications services that treat all communications, phone calls, faxes, voice mail, e-mail, Web conferences, and more, as discrete units that can all be delivered via any means and to any handset, including cell phones. Two kinds of competitors are competing in this space: one set is focused on VoIP for medium to large enterprises, while another is targeting the small-to-medium business (SMB) market.
VoIP allows both voice and data communications to be run over a single network, which can significantly reduce infrastructure costs.
The prices of extensions on VoIP are lower than for PBX and key systems. VoIP switches may run on commodity hardware, such as personal computers. Rather than closed architectures, these devices rely on standard interfaces.
VoIP devices have simple, intuitive user interfaces, so users can often make simple system configuration changes. Dual-mode phones enable users to continue their conversations as they move between an outside cellular service and an internal Wi-Fi network, so that it is no longer necessary to carry both a desktop phone and a cell phone. Maintenance becomes simpler as there are fewer devices to oversee.
Videoconferencing is the conduct of a videoconference (also known as a video conference or video teleconference) by a set of telecommunication technologies which allow two or more locations to communicate by simultaneous two-way video and audio transmissions. It has also been called 'visual collaboration' and is a type of groupware.
Videoconferencing differs from videophone calls in that it's designed to serve a conference or multiple locations rather than individuals. It is an intermediate form of video telephony. With the introduction of relatively low cost, high capacity broadband telecommunication services, coupled with powerful computing processors and video compression techniques, videoconferencing has made significant inroads in business, education, medicine and media. Like all long distance communications technologies (such as phone and Internet), by reducing the need to travel, which is often carried out by aeroplane, to bring people together the technology also contributes to reductions in costs for companies.
ZTE Next Generation Call Centre
A Call Centre is an entity that makes and receives calls for customer service, marketing, technical support, and other business purposes. The application domain and service scope of modern enterprises' call centre systems have been enormously expanded in terms of both connotation and denotation. A Call Centre comprises all-round customer service ideas including passive and active, incoming and outgoing calls, service and sales, voice, data, and video.
The Next Generation Call Centre (NGCC) is an all-IP call centre system, which is based on the following technologies: Soft switch, IP, distributed processing, OSA/Parlay, and multimedia unified access. The NGCC can be widely applied on PSTN, GSM, NGN, TD-SCDMA, WCDMA, CDMA2000, and IMS networks. ZTE was the first to put forward the NGCC concept, and acts as the initiator, advocate, and promoter of the NGCC technology. ZTE established a NGCC R&D team in 2002, and was the first to launch a formal commercial platform. ZTE provides a stable and reliable all-IP NGCC system that meets communication network development requirements, and is in a leading position in the industry.
ZTE NGCC is applied on a large scale in over 20 countries and regions including the US, Hong Kong, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Venezuela, Colombia, Congo, Kirghizia, Mauritania, Morocco, Haiti, Ethiopia, Zambia, South Africa, and Afghanistan.
According to the IPCC White Paper published by Frost & Sullivan, until 2010H1, ZTE ranked the third in the global IPCC market, and ranked the first in the global NGCC market.
With the all-IP architecture, the NGCC can operate in TDM, NGN, 3G, and IMS networks, and provides voice, video, and data services to operators. The NGCC supports smooth transition to the IMS network.
The media resource server can be flexibly deployed to meet the requirement for service development.
Media servers can be deployed into prefecture/city centres or regional centres in a decentralized manner. The decentralized deployment facilitates fast regional deployment of agents, and reduces long distance network resource consumption.
- With the powerful virtual call centre function, the NGCC supports centralized construction and management of call centre systems.
- The powerful NGCC entity can be divided into multiple logically independent call centres, each logical call centre owning dedicated access capability, platform resources, and agent resources.
- The standard open services and the platform facilitate flexible fast service deployment.
- The system adopts standard protocols, satisfying operators' requirements. In addition, the system provides NGCC-specification-compliant interfaces and graphical development tools for systems provided by third party service vendors to access the NGCC.
- The perfect sophisticated routing and queuing function implements unified routing and hierarchical service.
- The NGCC meets the requirements for provincial centralized management of the CC system and decentralized regional deployment of agents. The system provides a graphical routing and queuing policy and hierarchical service.
- The versatile efficient role and domain-based easy-to-use report and monitoring functions offer strong operation support for operators.
- In addition to various reports, the NGCC provides a special interface for third-party service systems to obtain complete logs and monitoring data, which helps to make customer's customer service systems personalized, diversified, and role and domain-based.
ZTE Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company's interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes, principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new customers, nurture and retain existing customers, win former customers back, and reduce the costs of marketing and customer service.
ZSmart CRM is a member of ZSmart BSS/OSS product family, which provides telecom operators with an excellent CRM solution to increase quality and efficiency, decrease cost, and support decision and agile business operation.
Provides enterprise-level product management which supports full lifecycle management on operators' product. Provides centralized customer management with unified customer view allowing for unified presale/marketing, sales and after-sale customer experience.
Enable multiple contact channels to support flexible and effective connection with customers, including call centre, e-Shop, POS, self-care, USSD, SMS, IVR, Email and etc.
Provide customer care services that satisfy requirements for customers (include potential customers) through channels, including customer service request, order entry request and account service request. Provides Integrated Trouble Ticket tool for handling complaints, after sale service and query in one view.
- Support business resource management includes the whole process management from resource order to resource usage, including purchase order, inventory and resource application.
- Manage daily affairs relevant to dealer, including dealer Information management, dealer evaluation management, dealer settlement management and dealer portal.
- Realize closed-loop management for marketing process, including campaign design, execution and evaluation,
- Support lead management, business opportunity management, sales activity management and sales team management to manage daily affairs relevant to sales department of the operator.
- Multiple-angle customer view facilitates analyzing customer and improving customer relationship;
- Provide customers with appropriate contact channels to break through the bottleneck of resources and reduce the marketing costs;
- Handle customer service request and trouble ticket more efficiently to improve customer experience;
- Controllable and manageable marketing process flow helps to get rid of the inherent high costs of traditional advertisement, and finally realizes rapid and stable business growth.
Working together, people can achieve extraordinary things. Improve collaboration with technology that empowers people to engage and innovate, anywhere, on any device.
Video places people at the center of the collaboration experience. It empowers them to work together in new ways to transform business, accelerate innovation, and do more with less. It's next-generation interaction, where everyone, everywhere can be face-to-face and more effective.
Quality Video Experiences on Any Device to Anyone
As the workforce becomes more mobile and distributed, leaders recognize the benefits and growing impact of video as a key part of business collaboration. Video is becoming more pervasive. Case in point: Today's desktop and mobile devices have a camera, if not two.
You can use video collaboration to improve communications, relationships, and productivity by helping people meet face-to-face over distances. This helps you:
- Improve decision making by reducing communications delay
- Build trust and understanding across time zones within cross-functional and diverse teams
- Reduce employee travel, real-estate costs, and environmental impact
- Encourage information sharing and knowledge building with employees, partners, and customers
- It's all part of engagement - making it easy and natural for people to collaborate. Video collaboration experiences are available anywhere, and are as easy as voice. For many use cases, these experiences are better than being there.
Cisco provides one of the industry's broadest portfolios of purpose-built, high-quality video collaboration solutions. These solutions are designed to meet the needs of all types of workers, whether deskbound or on the road.
Cloud and Hybrid Collaboration Solutions
Extend the value of your existing collaboration investments. Using open and interoperable solutions allows you to take advantage of new cloud services and ‘cloud-connect’ them with your existing infrastructure.
Connecting Existing Clouds and the Premises
The explosion of cloud-based consumer and business applications has given users more choice than ever before. However, raised expectations have extended frustrations around what is available at work, in stark comparison to what is used at home.
IT departments are under pressure to manage growing demand for new services, better user experiences, and integration of applications not optimized for enterprise scale, security, and manageability.
Cisco offers both premises and cloud-based collaboration solutions. We have an innovative cloud strategy that helps customers manage flexible hybrid environments and connect multiple clouds together.
Midsize Collaboration Solutions
For growing businesses with limited resources, effective collaboration can be complicated. Simplify it with our range of right-sized, right-priced collaboration solutions. Improve employee engagement, increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and accelerate innovation and growth.
Collaboration Solutions at the Right Size and Price
For growing businesses, having intimate customer relationships and being able to respond quickly and cost-effectively to changing needs are the hallmarks of success.
To stay ahead of the competition, your teams and stakeholders need to communicate effectively and act decisively. Your collaboration tools need to be easy to use and deliver exceptional results. But with limited IT resources, keeping up with the latest innovations in communications and collaboration technology can seem a daunting task. Take collaboration to the next level with right-sized, right-priced solutions that are easy to use, manage, and deploy with high-definition video, voice, content sharing, messaging, and chat to:
- Empower employees, customers, and partners to collaborate simply and intuitively anywhere, on any device - from the browser to the boardroom
- Succeed at every stage of your collaboration journey with essential services that help you to plan, deploy, and support your investments
Collaboration involves many people -- in many different places. Work continuously across multiple platforms and devices with instant messaging, screen sharing, web and video conferencing, and shared workspaces - on premises or in the cloud.
Mobility beyond BYOD
Mobility is about much more than a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment. It is an opportunity to extend the benefits of rich media collaboration outside the corporate office on any device, anywhere, so employees are as effective and productive as they are inside the office.
Organizations can provide a highly secure, fully featured desk or mobile client with all the collaboration workloads. This includes high-definition voice and video, messaging, and desktop sharing to mobile users anywhere on any device. Organizations can also provide the same capabilities for multi-point meetings.
The rapid evolution of mobile technology has changed the workspace. The focus is often on devices, but the true value is in what devices can make possible, such as:
- Improved productivity and employee engagement
- Reduced costs
- Rapid innovation
Explore how you can support your organization's business goals with use cases that bring together collaboration and mobility.
- Help Enable Mobile Workers and BYOD
- Support Teleworkers and Branch Offices
- Enable Meetings with Remote Participants
- Incorporate Video into Meetings
- Deliver Online Events and Training