|(P. Shanks - Image)|
Social Business is about improving communication and collaboration and sharing in real time, near real time, and non-real time. The typical mechanisms used in social business include activity streams, discussion forums, question and answer, ideations, etc. All tools that improve collaboration and communication. And these ideas translate very well into working with clients and customers. But they don't provide every mechanism that people use to communication.
So this is where unified communication fits in. Imagine a scenario where an two employees are collaborating on a document. Let's call them Jim and Judy. Jim is actively working on the document and runs into a problem. He needs to contact Judy to ask her opinion. What does Jim do today? he looks Jill's name up in the company directory, and calls her using his desk phone. Or maybe he opens his chat application find her name in his contacts list and starts a chat session with her. Or maybe he opens his video chat application and starts a video chat with her. In each of these scenarios, Jim had to find the information or open the application to start the real time communication. But why?
Why couldn't Jim click Judy's name, which has been associated with the document and start a chat session her? or call her? or start screen sharing session? or start a real time collaboration / co-authoring session with her? If unified communication was integrated into the base system, this could be possible.
Let's imagine a second scenario. Imagine that Jim is working with a client/customer named Jawad. Jim and Jawad is a highly valued client / customer and has an initiative that requires both Jim and himself to work together on multiple documents and have many interactions together. Today they use email and phone calls to make this happen. The documents that need to be edited are sent via email and versions are created on top of versions - with each keeping their own set of "versions". The job gets done, but only after 40 - 100 emails and several phone calls that had to be scheduled.
Why couldn't Jim and Jawad work together on a shared and secured social business site? Imagine them working on the documents. The system provides presence awareness, allowing Jawad to see when Jim is available. In fact, it provides more transparency, by providing not so common status' such as away from my computer, on the phone, or in a meeting. Imagine that Jawad is working on a document and requires input form Jim. He see that Jim is available. Jawad clicks Jim's name to start "communicating" with him. The system indicates a phone call will start (the system knew to call Jim on the phone rather other communication methods because of a set of rules defined by Jim, indicating that he didn't have video chat capabilities because he was working from home. Both Jawad and Jim's phone ring and they start talking about the document Jawad is working on. In the middle of the call, Jim suggest they convert the conversation to an online-coauthoring session, so he can show Jawad to get his point across.
Social Business is about providing engagement between parties, employee to employee and employee to client/customer. But it doesn't bridge the gap completely as there is always the next step. Combining unified communication with social business provides that next level of communication to provide a better experience for everyone, employee, client and customer.
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