Everyone is familiar with the traditional contact center. Hundreds of people in a room on the phone 24 x 7. It has been like this for years. The key elements, from a telephony standpoint were:
- A “Big Iron” contact center switch
- A call recording system
- A contact center reporting package
In some cases, this is still the case. In others, telephony vendors are coming out with new solutions that eliminate the need for traditional contact centers entirely. One such example is Lync Response Groups.
Telecom Reseller recently did an interesting case study that describes how the Idaho Department of Labor connected 27 offices to answer phone calls. Instead of using a traditional call center, they used their existing offices to function as an ad-hoc call center.
I am seeing more and more of this. Whether it be the hunt group enhancements in Cisco Unified Communications Manager version 9 or the enhanced response group capabilities in Lync, companies are able to do more and more without investing the major dollars in true contact center solutions.
The question remains how do you manage them?? Well, (another shameless plug) ISI Telemanagement Solutions offers tools to help you. We offer enhanced hunt group (or response group) reporting that lets you better analyze your workloads. We offer call recording for all users, not just contact center users. And, our unique silent monitoring solution lets supervisors listen in on calls to ensure customer quality.
So, are you looking at a non contact center contact center? Then contact me to see how to manage it. (How many times can I say contact??)
A few posts ago I talked about Video recording for Telemedicine. Well, there are a lot of other uses for Call and Video recording in the healthcare area.
Virtually every hospital consists of a number of contact centers. Yes, they are not contact centers in the traditional way but they take calls from doctors and patients. All of the traditional reasons contact centers use recording still apply. They want to monitor calls, coach employees, and adhere to compliance regulations
. Some examples of “casual” contact centers in a hospital are:
- Central Scheduling
- Billing Departments
There are many more. The key thing to remember is that each of these areas can use recording to:
- Improve the quality of their service
- Document key conversations for the medical (or billing) record
- Protect from costly litigation
Are you using call recording to its fullest potential? Let me know!
Microsoft has done a good job of providing a rich unified communications environment within Lync. As such, most providers of hosted Lync use the full suite — voice, voice mail (with Exchange), conferencing, and video. By offering these capabilities, you are able to meet the needs of the bulk of the market. Forward looking hosting companies, however, are looking at additional applications in order to increase their revenue. Possible additional applications are:
A full list of Lync 2013 compatible applications can be found on Microsoft Technet. The key item to remember is by adding additional applications such as these, you can:
- Increase customer satisfaction by offering a complete solution to meet their communications needs
- Increase your revenue by increasing the size of your sale
- Provide a competitive advantage by offering a full suite of applications
In summary, as with any technology product, a large ecosystem has developed around Microsoft Lync. This ecosystem of partners has products to solve every need. Get close to the vendors, they can help you win more business. What products have you seen a need for?
We all know that Microsoft includes Lync with their Office365 offering. Businesses looking for true hosted Unified Communications will not find Office365 meets their needs. Without Enterprise Voice, you cannot say that it can replace the on-site telephony system.
A number of companies are, however, jumping feet first into the Hosted Lync arena. They come from a number of areas: Some are come from a UC background, some are Microsoft hosters (Sharepoint, Exchange, etc.) and some are traditional phone companies. What they have in common is a full-featured product that tries to replace an on-prem telephone system.
Some key activities within the last few months include:
- Last month AT&T announced that they will be providing hosted Lync. This service will encompass both the full Unified Communications capabilities of Lync along with full enterprise voice.
- Verizon is also offerring a full hosted Lync deployment combined with their SIP trunking for enterprise voice.
- Late last year, Avanade, the Microsoft service delivery arm of Accenture and Microsoft purchased Azaleos. With this purchase, Avanade/Accenture instantly entered the hosted Microsoft UC arena.
- CallTower, a long-time Lync and OCS hoster announced full support for Lync 2013
- Control Panel vendors such as ExtendASP add Lync hosting to their products
- Vendors such as ISI Telemanagement Solutions (full disclosure — I work for them) add support for billing and recording for Lync hosters
- Implement.com offers turn-key Lync hosting for Microsoft partners
What is missing, of course, is Microsoft. They have tremendous experience in offering full hosted applications such as Office365 and Dynamics CRM to the enterprise. What about Lync and Voice? Microsoft did take a baby step with integration to JaJah. Skype with their Skype-in and Skype-out may also provide some movement. Until they offer key features such as E-911 and more advanced call control options, it may be a SMB solution but certainly not an option for the Enterprise.
The key thing to remember is that with Skype, Microsoft essentially bought a world-wide telephone network. Lync moved to the Skype division. If I had to bet, I would suspect that once things mature a bit, Microsoft will jump in at the enterprise level as well. Remember, Microsoft has the relationships at the CIO level. Cisco is hitting them hard with their HCS offering. It is only a matter of time before they go direct.
The American Telemedicine Association defines Telemedicine as “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status.” This certainly fits the concept of Unified Communications.
What I find strange is that it has, for the most part, evolved as a separate entity. Yes, Cisco
has their Cisco Health Presence
product but even they seem to categorize it differently than the standard UC entries on their site. I think what scares away the general UC vendor concept is HIPAA
. The privacy requirements of HIPAA move telemedicine into its own category.
If you are a hospital or healthcare provider, you should, however, definitely look at what UC capabilities you already have and look at how they can be put into place. At a minimum, simple web or video conferencing can be used for training. Where things get sticky, however, is when you start to move towards communications involving actual patient care. That is where HIPAA rears its ugly head.
You can, however, avoid some of the HIPAA challenges with some simple things included in most (if not all) UC systems. They are:
- Ensure that all video and audio is encrypted
- If you are recording the video or audio, make sure your recording platform supports encryption as well
- Ensure that your compliance officers are part of any decisions made in terms of Telemedicine
- Conduct regular security audits of your communications
As you are beginning your initiatives, you may want to consider recording you telemedicine sessions. The recordings can be part of the medical record. Additionally, a copy of the recording can be given to the patient for further consultation.
So, as you see, telemedicine truly is part of Unified Communications. It includes items like video conferencing, recording, telephony, and such. It is time vendors link the two.
Welcome to my new blog! The goal of this blog is to provide educational content on everything Unified Communications. Oh, the best intentions. I hope to keep this an active blog with, at a minimum, weekly posts which I hope you will find both interesting and educational. Come join me and let’s learn together!