In part one of this series, we dug into top trends to help your business increase efficiency and reduce costs. As we dive into the rest of the list, we’ll show you how mobile apps, storage management, social media and other evolving trends can give you a competitive edge.
VI. Mobile Applications
When mobile apps first made their appearance, the offerings consisted of strictly general productivity needs and information retrieval; email, calendar, contacts and weather information for example. Fast forward a few years and driven by increased public demand developers have created advanced mobile apps with capabilities such as GPS and location-based services, banking, order tracking, and ticket purchases. Not only has this increased functionality created a rise in the popularity of mobile applications, but it has generated a shift in the desire for mobility from strictly personal to business and corporate use. According to an Appcelerator survey, 55 percent of companies ranked mobility at the top or near the top of their priorities list, and 66 percent plan employee-facing mobile applications.
VII. Contextual Data, Analytics and Interaction
Contextual data spans the last mile of personal and business productivity: ‘Meta-information’ accompanies voice, video, chat and text communications to provide more comprehensive context for our interactions. Analytics is increasingly delivered to users at the point of action and in context. With the improvement of performance and reduction in cost to develop and implement, IT leaders can afford to perform analytics and simulation on nearly every action taken in the business. This change will lead to greater flexibility and agility within the workplace. For example, mobile workers are most efficient when they have immediate visibility of team member status so they can reach others in a timely manner when they need to do so. Contextually aware presence gives these employees the ability to receive information on content, tools, and services based on contextual information, such as the geographical location, personal preferences, and current activities of group members. To take it a step further integrating mobile devices with Unified Communications (UC) software allows end users to use mobile devices for collaborations and to locate other end users, whether they are on-site or off. This can be essential in healthcare where patients may require immediate assistance from medical staff or colleagues.
VIII. Big Data and Storage Management
As businesses of all sizes begin taking advantage of the capabilities of big data and analytics, they are also encountering the inevitable downside; complications when trying to store, protect, and manage the growing pool of data and related resources. Current methods require them to constantly configure, provision and upgrade their servers and storage devices, all the while technology enhancements put on the pressure to undergo migrations. So how can this be addressed? First, analyze the value of the data you have. Enterprises are deploying Big Data projects to leverage their current data and drive better business intelligence, product development and customer service. The surge in data will drive storage solutions to become fore flexible and scalable without the need for users to have a refined skillset in order to manage.
IX. Smart Energy
Information and Communications Technology will play an increasingly vital role in an energy efficient society, particularly given how essential it is to automatically balance energy supply and demand. Smart Buildings will achieve enhanced environmental and economic performance by producing, storing, efficiently managing and optimally controlling energy. Building energy management systems will play an increasingly vital role in these Smart Buildings. Energy waste is in turn minimized by obtaining location information for individuals to enable automatically controlling air conditioning and lighting. This is of particular interest to enterprises and data centers that will place an increasing focus on energy-saving technologies such as virtualization.
X. Social Media and Interaction
Although seen typically as a customer-facing technology only, many businesses have begun utilizing social media as an integrated element in their business process to facilitate improvement in all areas. From product testing and validation, exerting market influence, prospecting and lead generation to customer care and retention, the value of social media activities is continually increasing and expanding. The value of this activity is being quantified and routinely measured as part of the regular business process.
Companies are also reinventing their customer engagement models to more quickly and effectively respond to customer care issues via social media. Promotions are the top drivers of consumer engagement through social media, so businesses need to build new linkages between marketing and sales. Furthermore, customer support services increasingly use social media sites to share information with customers and provide more interactive support for them.
Hopefully these 10 tips have given you an idea on how you can empower your workforce without having to sacrifice additional cost or efficiency. Don’t forget to start at post 1 for the first set of tips, or to see the complete list, download the eBook.
The Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education (ACUTA)
NEC is in full force at the second full day of the 42nd Annual ACUTA conference and exhibition, which focuses on technology and communications in higher education. The show is taking place at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, CA, until Wednesday.
We are here at Booth 513 showcasing our portfolio of integrated solutions for higher education, which includes mobility, unified communications and cloud-based communications. You can also get real-time updates and photos from the show on Twitter via @NEC_Channels.
After a successful first day at ACUTA 2013 yesterday, we learned a few tips and tricks on who’s who in the “Twitterverse.”
- First off, if you’re not following the official ACUTA 2013 hash tag, you need to check it out - #acutaconference13. You’ll find ample content from show participants and vendors, session takeways and key conversations just waiting for your input. If you were unable to attend ACUTA 2013, following the official hash tag will help keep you updated on all of the happenings at the show.
- On the same note, the conference’s official Twitter page, @ACUTA, contains updated session and event information.
- ACUTA’s president for 2014, and an NEC customer, Mark Reynolds, is tweeting his personal ACUTA 2013 observations at @msreynolds55 (pictured below).
- Check out John Gallant, chief content officer of IDG, on Twitter @JohnGallant1. He moderated the conference keynote, “Envisioning the New IT Organization Through the Eyes of an Extraordinary CIO,” yesterday (pictured below).
- Another must-follow is Marty Parker and the great minds with @UCStrategies. There’s always something to learn from their unique insight on Unified Communications.
- This year, ACUTA introduced a new social medium called Rockzi. Just visit www.acuta.org/rockzi to keep tabs of the latest industry news from ACUTA participants and vendors.
Are you following a participant or vendor at ACUTA 2013 that deserves a shoutout? Let us know by commenting below.
Competing in today’s business environment is about meeting challenges, making decisions and innovating rapidly while using the best and most current technologies, tools and information.
Cloud services, mobile applications and virtualization are just a few components of a rapidly evolving technology foundation. Check out this list of trends and technologies that we believe will drive productivity and provide businesses with superior customer service, a more ﬂexible work environment and a competitive edge.
I. Unified Communications and Collaboration Reduce Latency and Drive Productivity
With organizations becoming increasingly fragmented, departments more flexible and employees more mobile, collaboration is a means of enabling them to work together in real time. Unifed Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) is a major breakthrough in enterprise communications, as it will drive productivity and increase flexibility across an organization. Latencies in all areas will be reduced as well, from development to logistics and customer response, thereby creating an informed and connected workplace. Advanced collaboration tools such as shared workspace, calendar coordination, and rich presence will support many business processes. As a result, collaboration between individuals and teams will intensify and improve in quality.
II. Mobile Connectivity is Key
In today’s fexible and fast-moving business environment, employees are never in one place for very long. Workers can be just about anywhere: at the offce, between appointments, on business travel or working from home. In many business settings, it has become more important to reach a specifc person regardless of their location. Additionally, more employees need a mobile device that supports all business telephone features and provides access to the Internet as well as business applications. Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) capabilities offer communication services independent of the access technique. With FMC, employees can use smartphones anywhere in the world as an integrated extension of the company network, enabling access to the central directory and switching from a cellular network to a Wi-Fi network. In addition, personal devices can be used in conjunction with enterprise security credentials – securing enterprise information and supporting ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies.
III. Open Architectures and Standards (such as SIP) provide Greater Flexibility
Globalization of business and technologies leads to solutions being comprised of components from multiple sources. UC&C solutions should be built on an open architecture that lets organizations leverage existing technologies. SIP is the foundation for integration of media modes, network devices, and applications across a common infrastructure to deliver advanced services and applications. SIP is a core communication component, which integrates with other advanced protocols to support a multimedia architecture and supports advanced communications across any device. It also enables virtual applications to be delivered from the cloud to support conferencing, messaging, voice, and collaboration.
The move to SIP trunking is signifcant because it enables organizations to reduce costs and offer new services. SIP trunking is beginning to replace local PRI lines and route external traffic to centralized data centers, allowing enterprises to lower the operating costs of IP technology while using their existing network resources more efficiently.
IV. Beyond Virtualization
Many organizations are turning to virtualization as the solution to their IT challenges. Virtualization accelerates deployment of new capabilities without needing to acquire new hardware. A virtualized infrastructure can improve your business through the minimization of capital expenses and operating costs.
It also helps reduce application testing requirements and compatibility issues while simplifying disaster recovery and mission critical solutions. Virtualization provides components to address end-to-end scenarios, like datacenter consolidation, business continuity and virtualized desktop solutions – ultimately providing you the benefits of a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
V. Hybrid Clouds
There is a bright future in the midst of hybrid clouds. Cloud computing is changing the enterprise’s approach to IT and communications, with more fexible architectures and cost structures. Modular applications enable you to pay for only those applications your business needs for a specifc period of time. These on-demand services allow businesses to better manage costs. Businesses are also turning to the cloud to enable more scalable and flexible business processes. While they use public clouds for less sensitive tasks, they prefer to use private clouds for their most vital processing tasks.
Then there’s hybrid clouds, which are designed to quickly scale to a company’s needs. It makes it the ideal solution to load heavy projects, which cannot be easily handled by a company’s in-house servers. Hybrid clouds can be operated at all times, from any part of the world.
In part two, we’ll cover additional technology trends. Download the eBook now for more details on empowering your workforce with these leading technologies.
NEC recently attended the 2013 National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) Conference in Orlando, Florida. The NADA Convention is the automotive industry event of the year and the world's largest international gathering place for franchised new-vehicle dealers.
NEC participated with Phillip Sherman, CEO of Telecom Advisors Group, Inc. and one of the leading independent automotive industry technology consultants in the nation.
Like many companies today, auto dealerships are interested in the best ways to cut costs and increase the productivity of their sales team and services advisors. The NADA convention gave the perfect opportunity to show the ROI of Unified Communications (UC) technology and demonstrate how it helps the rapidly growing automotive industry reduce cost, improve productivity, and increase customer satisfaction. Customer Satisfaction is important in any industry, but particularly in the automotive industry, which relies heavily on its Customer Service Index (CSI) score. For example, JD Power and Associates reported that dealerships with high CSI scores during the first three years of ownership retained 79 percent of dollars spent on maintenance and repairs during the first five years of vehicle ownership.
The auto industry is heavily impacted by technology to help make improvements for both the dealer and the customer. NEC employees were also on hand demonstrating our communications solutions to more than 20,000 conference attendees. With the need for uninterrupted roaming and productivity from any location within a dealership, applications that allow cellular and Wi-Fi roaming were of key interest to attendees. For those automotive dealerships tired of losing revenue due to appointment no-shows, we demonstrated our Appointment Reminder to show them how to alleviate this frustration by simplifying the appointment reminder process and communicating with their customers more efficiently. In the auto sales environment, responding to and distributing call-in and internet leads is critically important. Leveraging contact center technology that queues, distributes and tracks customer opportunities provides dealers with a competitive advantage and the ability to respond as quickly as possible.
To learn how uMobility or Appointment Reminder can enhance your organization click below.
For years we've talked about voice as an application and the possibility of running voice communications in a virtualized environment. The age of Virtualized software-based communications is now here.
Virtualization continues to be a leading trend in IT, so long gone are the days when unsupported hypervisor technology prevented real-time applications such as voice from being virtualized. In today’s world, voice virtualization removes the barriers between real-time and traditional line of business applications, enabling your Unified Communications (UC) applications to work to their fullest potential on a virtualized platform – without the risk of delays compromising system effectiveness. When voice applications are virtualized, your telephony hardware can be consolidated right alongside your computing infrastructure, further streamlining your communications network with simplified voice platform administration. With virtualization, your benefits come packaged in a cost-effective flexible infrastructure that allows you to meet capacity and deliver effective disaster recovery methods to ensure business continuity.
Perhaps the most compelling reason for virtualization is a reduction in overall hardware distribution and energy footprint, leading to capital expenditure cost savings. Additional benefits, such as simplifying administration and remote console access from a common hypervisor management system are powerful tools. Virtualization provides the simplicity of centralized access across all communication servers and eliminates the need for discrete hardware platforms traditionally used to support telephony, voice mail, call accounting, and more.
So what are the additional benefits of virtualization, and how can they add the most value to your current strategy? We’ve put a list together of a few key advantages you can yield from a virtualized infrastructure:
1. Reduced number of servers – this can help lower your hardware costs significantly – by as much as 50-70%
2. “Green” adoption methods of VoIP/UC, which results in:
a. Less rack space in the Data Center
b. Lower HVAC requirements
c. Lower electrical requirements
d. Reduced number of server outages
3. Helps expand and promotes the number of applications throughout the enterprise at a relatively nominal cost (primarily for licensing)
4. Enables a cloud-computing model – servers can reside just about anywhere
5. Encourages open standards
6. Allows applications to be centrally run for an entire enterprise
7. Expands redundancy possibilities at a relatively nominal cost
8. Flexibility/Scalability: Apps can be added as needed in less time
9. Less maintenance, less hardware failures
10. Ability to manage voice, unified communications and collaboration just like any other application in your virtualized data center.
Virtualizing applications such as voice and related communication software services will certainly add additional value to your virtual infrastructure investment. With increased efficiencies, significant savings, multi-licensing capabilities and UC now more affordable than ever, virtualization is no doubt here to stay. What’s more, Unified Communications (UC) features such as conferencing, IM, and Presence, can now be deployed alongside other virtualized business applications in your software-based private or hybrid cloud solution. Virtualizing UC, contact center and software-based communications is nothing new for NEC.
We’ve provided you with 10 benefits of a virtualized environment, but the list goes on. Click below to see how NEC incorporates features such as enhanced video and contact center functionality to enhance productivity for your end users and give added simplicity to your IT staff to ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck in a virtualized environment. Ready to learn more about what you can add to your virtualization strategy?
Improving your Return on Investment can be a tough task, but Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) makes successful performance that much easier, since existing technologies can be merged with new technologies to connect people and companies at volumes and speeds never seen before.
CIOs are under constant pressure to drive their organizations to stellar performance while staying within budgets that can be small – or even non-existent. Whether you manage a small to medium sized business or a large corporation, Unified Communications is a key performer when it comes to boosting your organization’s ROI, while keeping a tight leash on costs.
When UC&C is deployed, CIOs can implement collaboration to create a competitive advantage and align IT staff across the organization – thereby boosting ROI. There are multiple approaches to consider when deploying UC&C, with the best option depending on your business model as it relates to the acquisition of technology. Whereas some organizations may choose to purchase an entire UC&C solution as a capital expense, some may decide to deploy a fully hosted or UC as a Service (UCaaS) approach and treat it as an operational expense. You can also choose a hybrid model with a mix of capital and operational expenses. To determine the value of UC&C, you should evaluate the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Return on Investment (ROI). TCO is important in both a services (opex) model as well as a capex model when you have to consider the ongoing expense to maintain the software and hardware from the vendor. UC&C provides many distinct functions and services.
Web conferencing, for example, offers cost savings as an obvious benefit, but if you’re wondering if it’s beneficial to your business beyond the dollar, the answer is yes. You can leverage the benefits of hosted offerings that offer web conferencing to communicate transparently across your organization. With features such as web conferencing, you see an instant impact on your bottom line. Web conferencing allows you to oversee company operations by hosting virtual meetings, or even viewing collaborative documents in real-time. With web conferencing, it’s important to consider the types of meetings your business conducts. It’s possible, when evaluating TCO, that it would be more cost-effective to purchase and host your own on-premises system verses continuing to pay a monthly expense in perpetuity. What’s more, all UC&C solutions, whether hosted or on-premises, improve overall business efficiency and productivity through the integrated solution, thus providing a greater chance of cost reduction. According to research from Wainhouse, 69 percent of survey respondents use web conferencing tools to facilitate meetings that they couldn’t otherwise hold due to timing and cost restraints. Additionally, when considering cost, be sure to think in terms of TOTAL cost of Ownership in addition to ROI. When considering the TCO of deploying a premises-based UC&C solution, consider the following additional factors, suggested by Information Week, when justifying your decision and maximizing your TCO.
To fully leverage the growth potential Unified Communications and Collaboration has to offer, it is key to understand that these technologies will not work in a vacuum. While they will open the doors for great benefits to your organization that can ultimately lead to significant growth, they must be implemented properly. The greatest savings in implementing UC&C comes from identifying how you can improve your current infrastructure and how new tools can be integrated into your current investment in ways that improve the entire organization.
In order to cut costs and increase your ROI, it is essential to approach UC&C with the consideration of how it benefits the greater good of your organization as a whole, rather than focusing solely on the technology. The best way to do so is to examine your current communications infrastructure with your business objectives and investment in mind. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do the current communications infrastructures enable the rapid and secure exchange of information between stakeholders?
- Can they support a variety of types of users, who each play a different role within the business and/or its supply chain?
- Does the technology fully support core business processes?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then your current communications solution may need a makeover. Based on your organization’s specific needs and budget there are many solutions to choose from and methods to deploy them. The growing trend of deploying fully integrated software-based premises solutions provides you with the greatest control and choice, as well as substantially lowering your TCO. Although there are many factors to consider when determining an accurate and representative TCO, clearly developing a strategy and defining a deployment road map with the right vendor gives you the best opportunity for successfully realizing the benefits UC&C can offer your organization. You may want to take a look at UC&C technologies and consider how its flexibility matches up against your business objectives. To see how UC yielded measurable results and improved the workflow of one company, download the ROI of Unified Communications white paper below.
Information speed is faster than ever – and continuously accelerating. Your communication stream needs to be able to keep up. Voice, data, chat, video, messaging, email; everything should be synchronized and easily available. Are you not reaping the full benefits of your investment because cost is a concern? We’ve put a few tips together to help you keep your technology current and your capital costs in check.
- Reuse existing PBX with SIP
If you’ve never toyed with the idea of using tie lines or trunking to connect with your existing PBX infrastructure, consider the savings. SIP trunking offers significant savings in reduced administration and infrastructure costs. It also allows you to leverage your current investment in gateways and other equipment purchases while extending your communications capabilities. Technologies that connect to your existing PBX allow you to add video/web/audio collaboration and mass notification services without replacing your voice systems. You can leverage the telecom lines you already pay for, and reduce conferencing costs dramatically compared to engaging a hosted provider.
SIP trunking also gives you an opportunity to vary your communications. Just because you’ve invested in a particular provider’s technology, does not mean you have to put all of your “eggs into one basket” when it comes to features or security within your organization. For example, if you’ve chosen Provider A for a solution but they don’t meet your desire for redundancy and security in times of crisis, you can implement a secondary provider’s solution – one that integrates seamlessly into your existing solution – for that extra layer of security.
With business impacts such as immediacy, simplicity and interoperability, collaboration is almost essential in any business environment. All departments and levels in a corporation interact regularly with one another to collaborate toward common goals, but utilizing WebEx or other hosted solutions for your conferencing needs can be costly. By using your existing lines for collaboration and notifications, you can eliminate ongoing service and connection costs. Since you are already paying for the lines, you might as well leverage all of their capabilities. Increased savings isn’t the only benefit – integrating collaboration tools into your existing infrastructure and communications workspace makes them easier to use and more effective.
There is a place for collaboration within every group of your business. For example, some organizations utilize in-house collaboration in the Human Resources hiring process to cut costs when it comes to fly-in interviews vs. video conferencing interviews. Hospitals and doctors use collaboration tools to increase the speed of consultations. Sales organizations use video collaboration tools to reduce the costs of travel and meeting space. In what ways can your organization use collaboration tools more wisely and effectively today?
- Add functionality with UC
Unified Communications (UC) gives you the flexibility to customize your solution options, along with the ability to add additional features to meet specific needs, ensuring that you’re delivering a service that’s valued by the entire organization. Traditional UC elements typically consist of Unified Messaging/Voicemail/Fax, Text Chat/IM, Audio/Web Collaboration, and Video Conferencing. Each of these capabilities enables you to add functionality within your existing system so you can increase productivity without drastically increasing cost.
Video conferencing plays a vital role in the collaboration aspect mentioned earlier. A significant change we’ve noticed in recent years is the downturn in the economy and its effect on company budgets, and as a result, a greater emphasis being placed on the importance of expense management. This is of particular importance to the small and medium-sized business sector, and has contributed to the rise in digital alternatives over face-to-face meetings. A reported 45 percent of medium-sized businesses utilize some form of technology to conference in a virtual environment.
In addition to the cost savings, reduced travel results in making better use of staff time. By allowing executives and personnel at all levels to coordinate and actively participate in meetings around the world, you’re able to better maintain executive control and make critical decisions in a timely manner.
If you’re ready to leverage your existing communications investment, NEC’s Meeting Center can help. To see how NEC is helping businesses become more efficient and productive by leveraging their existing PBX, download the info below. For an in-depth look into the system configuration, mass notification settings and reports, check out the demo presentations below.
Unified Communications (UC) technology is rapidly evolving, and with this change, there is an ongoing pressure for CIOs to stay current if they want to remain competitive. As technology continues to evolve, CIOs have the added pressure to update existing technology or deploy a new solution in half the time, with half the budget – and in some cases with half the resources available to them. With only one to two years to adapt before what’s “current” becomes yesterday’s technology, you certainly want to implement communications technology solutions that rapidly adapts to changes in order to provide your business with the most current communications software and applications available for your business to stay competitive and productive. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) could be the solution to address this critical business need.
UCaaS is a complete service offering that can be implemented into your IT strategy over a defined period of time. With UCaas, services are delivered from the cloud, enabling your business to quickly and easily scale communications as needed and choose your preferred deployment model, be it a private, hybrid or public cloud environment. UCaaS allows for flexibility based on your requirements, and puts you in a position to make decisions based on your business practices and specific needs – not the needs of the manufacturer. The following are just a few ways deploying UCaaS prepares you to face IT challenges that may come your way.
- Empowers your business’ workforce
With UCaaS, businesses of all sizes can make a significant impact to their overall costs, IT efficiencies and individual productivity. Because UCaaS delivers a complete set of voice features and unified communications (UC) and collaboration applications, you can consolidate your communications staff. What implications does this have for your business? For starters, consolidating helps decrease overall spending. What’s more, you can simultaneously increase individual productivity, responsiveness and accessibility. Deploying UCaaS helps leverage the abilities of your IT staff to focus on other business issues. With UCaaS, gone are the days when your IT team ties up a majority of their time dealing with testing, scheduling and installing new software updates.
- Enables True Collaboration
Ideally, all departments and levels in a corporation should interact with one another to collaborate toward a common goal – UCaaS helps make this possible by offering the ability for you to achieve on-demand access across any device. With a comprehensive suite of powerful UC and collaboration applications, your business will quickly and easily be able to streamline communications and information delivery. Deploying UCaas in your organization will provide a consistent user experience across multiple devices which, in turn, minimize the need for training so the user’s time can be dedicated to other tasks. The evolution of UCaaS has spanned from basic features such as Unified Messaging, Presence and IM to an ever expanding set of new capabilities. UCaaS enables your employees to tailor their communications to the specific needs of their role, plus gives total control over how, when and where they choose to be reached.
- Eases Budget and Management Concerns
We’d all like to reduce, and if possible, eliminate hardware costs altogether but still receive all the features and benefits of our applications, right? Gartner predicts that by 2015, 35% of technology spending won't be controlled by IT but by the business. So, with that in mind, remember the following about UCaas: (1) Since UCaas is consistently upgraded, there is no need to budget, purchase, and install hardware upgrades, so critical IT resources can be dedicated to other projects that help your business to compete better in the market. (2) With UCaaS, you have upfront clear per-user costs, which simplify the service you offer your organization. You decide what you need and when. For example, you can purchase communications as an Operating Expense (OPEX) for a fraction of the upfront costs that you’d incur in a traditional Capital Expense (CAPEX) model – simply choose the solution(s) that best suit your needs at limited or no upfront cost (3) UCaas is also offered at consistent and predictable costs, which reduces the headache of searching for additional budget to fund costly projects.
- Offers flexible UC options
With UCaaS, standard UC features (with varying functionality) are offered on a per-seat basis. This means that the monthly seat cost includes system requirements needed to for you to leverage the functions of your UC system. Just because UCaaS consists of a standard set of offerings, you can still implement an offering that doesn’t require all users to be at the same level. For example, a phone in a public area for general use shouldn’t cost the same as the applications delivered to your CEO. The flexibility to customize these options, along with the ability to add on additional features to meet specific needs, ensures that you’re delivering a service that’s valued by the organization.
Check out the CIO.com webinar to learn more about how implementing UCaaS can help your business successfully overcome technology challenges without risking your ability to stay competitive.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is making its way into every enterprise: from hospitals to higher education to corporations. So it’s no surprise that the demand by consumers for BYOD functionality is becoming prevalent in the hospitality industry as well. Guest’s personal devices are becoming faster, smarter and more personalized than ever before. The benefits derived from the plethora of applications and capabilities supported by these devices have become nearly essential to today’s business and leisure traveler. The increase in guest’s use of their own devices, however, has resulted in a disconnect between the hotel property and portions of the guest experience, primarily in voice communications. For example, telephone calls to hotel guests from staff or other guests, if gone unanswered, typically revert to a guest personal voicemail box. As a result, guests hanging out by the pool, restaurant or bar, or working in the conference center do not get the phone call and may go a long time before discovering that someone is trying to reach them. Therein lies the disconnect.
In an attempt to improve the guest experience in the current environment, hotel companies are solving this dilemma by bridging the gap between the guest’s personal voice device and their own internal voice communication system. Since many guests typically prefer their own device and its personalized user interface, ringtones, contacts and functions, hotels can now easily make the guest’s device their primary extension during their stay at the hotel. Incoming calls to guests from within or outside of the hotel would ring on the personal mobile phone. A real advantage of this is that the guest does not have to be in their room to speak with the caller. The call will reach the guest anywhere on property as long as they have a cellular signal. For this simple but beneficial feature, guests provide their name and email address to the front desk agent of the hotel during the check-in process.
The benefits in implementing mobile technologies stack up for both hospitality managers and guests. By accommodating the guests’ device, you enhance guest engagement and improve customer satisfaction, which in turn can increase customer spending and revenue. The benefits certainly don’t stop there, mobile technology implementation can also accelerate guest traffic, give you a venue to promote sales of goods and services if you desire, and customer satisfaction surveys where you can gather feedback relative to the guest’s experience.
How can I use BYOD to enhance my guests’ experience?
The average consumer has access to advanced technology in their home, and has the same expectations when they travel. With this, hotels are under a lot of pressure to keep up with, and even exceed, the customer’s expectations. So what services can you offer your guests from their personal device?
- In-room dining ordering
- In-hotel restaurant listing and reservations
- Pre-arrival requests
- Mobile Payment options
- In-room environmental controls – lights, drapes, thermostat, TV, etc.
- Express check-out
- Hotel Area maps
……just to name a few
According to Pew Research, more than half of all mobile phone users rely on their portable device to search for information on hotels. With mobility, you can get everything you want, where you want, plus gain positive benefits in revenue, guest experience and marketing. With the steadily increasing volume of mobile network users, what better time for a hospitality business to embrace the guest BYOD trend and get them more connected to your business than ever before.
Check out our case studies to see how NEC has helped hotels around the world recover missed revenue opportunities, increase customer service, and enhance the overall guest experience.
Long hold times and staff inefficiency are just a few flaws that can affect customer service and experience. In our last post we highlighted the first five of ten ways you can put your contact center to work for you by using it to enhance your campus. Keep reading as we reveal 6-10.
6. Agent Assignment Flexibility and Statistics
When your contact center has flexible agent assignment capability, the administrative offices can increase or decrease staff available to take calls during peak activity times. There are two methods to accomplish this objective: process and technology.
With the process method, any individual who takes calls is established as an “agent”. At normal times, only those whose primary job function includes answering incoming queries log in to the contact center application. As call volume increases, additional personnel can log in to take calls and relieve any backlog, and log off when the call volume decreases. A unified communications (UC) enabled desktop application for agents simplifies this process by allowing agents to easily view the information that they need through a desktop client.
With the technology solution, again, any individual who takes calls is established as an “agent”. The contact center application is programmed to send calls to back-up personnel only when certain thresholds are met – the number of waiting callers or the longest time any caller has currently waited. The benefit of this technology solution is that it tends to respond more quickly and reliably to spikes in the call volume.
7. Auto Attendant and Campus Directory
The Auto Attendant provides call routing capabilities for the campus. You may recognize this feature as the familiar situation where the caller hears a greeting message and is given up to ten options to begin directing the call – for example, “For Administrative Offices, press 1, Health Center press 2, etc.” Auto Attendant options can be processed several ways: play an automated message, transfer to an extension number or contact center, or further qualify with additional prompts.
You can implement an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to produce messages that provide answers to common questions. When you do this, it takes the load off of staff, giving them more time to provide assistance to other callers.
8. Mobile and Remote Representatives
You can easily allow your campus representatives to become mobile by merging your contact center technology with wireless technology. Doing so improves efficiency and means that help desk staffers can be reached while providing in-person computer repair, and bookstore personnel can walk around the store to check stock on an item. The “Remote Agent” capability allows staff to be reached even when out of the office. This is an ideal way to provide flexibility to your staff and assure that critical help lines remain open regardless of any campus closure.
9. Outbound: Preview and Power Dialing
Outbound contact center capabilities can improve the accuracy and effectiveness of a fund raising campaign. When the dialing process is automated, time spent on wrong numbers is significantly reduced. You can go a step further and integrate with a database of historical donations, thereby streamlining the information gathering process so solicitation can begin immediately.
Once a campus representative becomes available for the next call, preview dialing enables that individual to preview the information regarding the next call prior to the placement of that call. With the press of a button, the system dials the call. Power dialing is similar, but automatically dials the next call when the representative becomes available, while simultaneously displaying the preview information.
10. Self-Service Applications (IVR and Web)
You can further enhance your contact center efficiency by transferring tasks to self-service applications enabled to work over IVR or web interface. Good candidates for self service are those which integrate a user interface with data in various campus databases, for example, student and personnel records, library services, etc. Self-service applications allow users to access and work with distributed content from a single interface.
A few self service opportunities on a campus include:
- admissions and registration processing and status
- health and medical database information
- order status for recent purchases
- password reset
- time sheets and time tracking
- benefits administration
You can rest assured that security concerns are addressed by establishing the strongest possible authentication and identity management measures. Single sign-on and identity management applications enable the user to login to multiple locations through a single login manager with a single unique password.
When evaluating applications for potential self-service implementation, the campus should evaluate not just the cost savings but also the improvement in customer service by enabling users to have access at their convenience.
Check out our previous post where we listed the first five ways a contact center can help improve your campus, and, to learn more about the benefits your campus can reap with a UC enabled contact center, download the white paper.