Forrester Research: How Engagement is Writing Collaboration’s Eulogy

Anyone who knows me, knows that I think there are two types of collaboration – collaboration, the verb, and Collaboration, the noun.

For years, I’ve made a clear distinction between collaboration— the way humans meet to solve problems and innovate — and Collaboration Software (UC&C), something that business productivity software salespeople sell to IT buyers.

Nearly five years ago, while still an analyst at Forrester Research, I began to postulate that what we knew as the UC or UC&C market would go the way of VoIP solutions (see “Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration” published in December of 2011). I suggested that UC&C capabilities would continue to be important but would be readily integrated into other business systems and processes.

Current Forrester analyst Art Schoeller has continued on that theme in a recent report, “Say Goodbye to UC; It’s Time for Customer-Activated Communication and Collaboration,” published June 22.

Schoeller and I both recognize that when UC&C solutions work together, businesses achieve superior results. For a long time, UC and contact center solutions were segregated in two completely different silos, but our industry has seen a shift. Schoeller suggests that this will only continue, and I agree.

UC&C as we know it is a thing of the past. UC&C priorities will continue to mesh into what Schoeller calls “Customer-Activated Communication and Collaboration,” or CACC.

Does this mean collaboration will go away in modern business? Absolutely not! What it means is that savvy businesses will not continue to invest in Collaboration (the noun) for collaboration’s sake. Collaboration can’t be disconnected from value-adding business processes.

Schoeller dives deep into customer engagement examples in his paper, painting a picture of the contact center of the future, which includes engaging customers — not just at the time of sale or service — but as part of the product innovation process.

In fact, Avaya Engagement Development Platform is specifically cited as an example of a forward-thinking way to embed UC&C capabilities into customer-facing processes.

EDP is a software development kit that allows people and businesses to write their own communication-enabled apps based on Avaya infrastructure. EDP helps businesses break down information siloes to share context between applications.

With EDP, we’re essentially bringing the consumer experience of an app store to the enterprise environment. EDP provides the building blocks for users to create new, problem-solving applications, which “Snap-In” to Avaya engagement technologies.

We have customers using EDP to create capabilities like:

  • Direct-to-consumer video: A consumer products company has enabled video communications between customers and product experts. The experts use this software to advise customers on which products best meet their needs in a lively, engaging manner, directly from the Web.
  • Automated meeting entry: This EDP Snap-In automatically connects users to audio, Web or video conferences based on their electronic calendar invitations. Customers love being able to join scheduled meetings hands-free and automatically with this “engagement assistant” capability.
  • Intuitive alarming: This Snap-In recognizes triggers or alarms from non-communications solutions, and then initiates communications, like texts or emails, to alert of the situation. Looking for a real world example? Imagine you’re in an elevator, and it stops working. This Snap-In would automatically alert and dispatch repair and rescue business personnel, bringing you quickly to safety.

UC&C capabilities are maturing, and businesses are finding better ways to deliver value by leveraging these mature capabilities and embedding them into customer-facing interactions. The idea of choosing the right medium to engage with coworkers, customers, partners and suppliers is valid.

The future of the market is one where the value lies in the context.

Download the white paper “Say Goodbye to UC; It’s Time for Customer-Activated Communication and Collaboration.”