After an impressive 2008 which saw larger enterprises planning five years ahead by investing in converged voice and data networks, Avaya anticipates that in the cost conscious year ahead, organizations will continue to transition to Unified Communications (UC) in project-sized steps that produce recognizable ROI over a period of 12 – 18 months.
Avaya forecasts that Unified Communications implementations and regional call centres will be the most concentrated areas for investment over the course of 2009. Predicted trends for Unified Communications implementations include a focus on flexible working in which more businesses will equip their employees to work remotely via Blackberries and home broadbands using company-wide UC strategies.
“As 2009 will no doubt be characterized by strict management of capital expenditures, the smart regional business will use the powerful combination of HR and IT to tackle the issue, transforming the way working capital is allocated and managed and fundamentally changing the way the businesses operates,” explained Nidal Abou Ltaif, managing director for Avaya in the Middle East, North Africa (MENA). “By combining flexible working policies with Unified Communications, businesses can equip staff with the ability to work from anywhere, extending business hours without increasing, and in many instances actually reducing, working capital expenditure as companies save money on office space, heating and lighting requirements.”
The coming year is also expected to witness piecemeal evolution whereby mid to large sized companies, a majority of which already have basic VoIP networks, will maximize their investments by deploying additional UC applications that are added a relatively low cost and rapidly realize ROI. Legacy integration will also be a focus for companies as the challenging financial situation encourages emphasis upon interoperability and integration of current assets rather than investing in costly replacements or upgrades.
Avaya envisions a 2009 in which an increased emphasis on customer care will raise the status of regional call centres. Customer satisfaction is to become the new boardroom imperative fueling increased investment in software that can help regional businesses build a more accurate picture of their customers’ experience and tweak working practises accordingly.
New kinds of self service applications which integrate web based services will be in high demand as they boast rapid ROI while simultaneously speeding customer complain procedures, increasing productivity and dramatically enhancing customer service.
The call centre space is set to become increasingly high-tech in 2009, as companies deploy speech analytics technology, which can analyse calls and extract useful information from them in regional call centres. Performance analytics are capable of accepting information from all communications used in the contact centre and can compare and contrast them to any set of metrics or product line performance right across the business, giving real-time feedback and allowing the organisation to become more agile.
“Feedback from our business partners shows that there is already an increased interest in solutions that bring intelligence to the existing call centre environment,” added Abou Ltaif. “Add to that the fact that, after the initial investment in converging the voice and data network, the total cost of ownership drops with every additional unified communications application and its easy to see that the market will be ripe for UC in 2009 as CIOs can quickly build a solid business case to present to the board.”