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A Biz Case for Presence

One of the most exciting technologies that companies can leverage is presence, understanding the status of other online users, but making the business case for presence has been anything but easy. Stumping for a technology on potential productivity gains within the business is a long shot when baselining productivity amongst knowledge workers is still in its infancy.
Contact centers are another matter. They've developed clear metrics for measuring the value of user productivity. In a recent roundtable that I hosted at the VoiceCon show, Karyn Mashima, senior vice president of strategy and technology at Avaya, made a great case for using the call center as the leverage by which companies could quantify and sell the case for presence technology within their companies.

Companies today save millions on self-service models for customer service. By creating Web interfaces to corporate information, they improve customer satisfaction and reduce the size and overhead of their contact center. Fewer agents don't only mean payroll savings. It also means savings on infrastructure, software, hardware, and training costs.

But what happens when users visiting self-service contact centers have unresolved questions or need additional information? Today, those users are left having to go back to the call center agent, but Karyn points out that with presence technology it's possible to avoid the call center altogether or at the very least, offload traffic from the call center to individuals who normally aren't call center agents.

At the heart of this model is the equivalent of an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) for the enterprise and its little wonder that Avaya CEO Don Peterson talked about releasing an ACD targeted at the broader enterprise. Within call centers, ACDs direct incoming calls to the most appropriate agent. The decision on how to best direct the call is based on certain rules such as customer's choice of language made when they first called the support line, the specific requested product, the type of customer, and, yes, agent availability.

The enterprise grade ACD being developed by Avaya along with its presence technology introduced at VoiceCon will allow Avaya to decompose the contact center into the rest of the organization. The manager of the virtual contact center would designate subject matter experts throughout the organization based on the criteria most suitable for the organization. Part of the ACD's routing logic would include their presence availability and direct calls accordingly.

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