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Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New ... Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New ... Document Transcript

  • Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 0
  • Table of Contents 1. Section 1: A New Business Communications Era Emerges 1.1. Introduction 1.2. The Replacement Phase 1.3. The Strategic Value Phase 1.4. Telecommunications Management in Flux 1.5. It’s A New World of Communications 1.6. Web Services Opens Communications To IT Developers 1.7. Strategic Alignment of Communications to Business Process 1.8. Open IT Programming Interfaces For Communications 1.9. Migration Strategy For Developers 1.10. Communications-Enabled Business Process: Solving the N-Squared Problem 1.11. A New Development Environment Emerges 2. Section 2: SOA, Web Services and SIP Revolutionize Communications 2.1. The Perfect IT Storm 2.2. The Schism: Internet and Web Impart Disruptive Forces on Telecommunications Networks and Service-Creation 2.3. Superplatforms and Applistructure, Commercial Implementation of SOA and Web Services 2.4. SOA and Web Services Defined 2.5. The Growth of Web Services 3. Section 3: How Developers Can Profit From The New Business Process Platform 3.1. The Upside 3.2. Customer Facing Organizations 3.3. A More Competitive World 4. Section 4: Summary About Nick Lippis About Lippis Consulting Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 1
  • Section 1: A New Business Communications Era Emerges 1.1 Introduction The IP telephony market is entering its third level of maturity. The first phase was one of experimentation of Voice over IP (VoIP) transport and proprietary communication signaling built on a Personal Computing (PC) platform. This experimentation phase led to a stable and reliable IP telephony platform built upon a hardened Linux foundation. For some suppliers, IP telephony solutions are now at the same reliability, availability and performance levels of traditional time division multiplexing (TDM) telephony solutions. With the design center of IP telephony hardware based upon a traditional computing model, cost and performance has followed Moores Law, i.e., doubling performance with 50% cost reduction over eighteen months. Cost benefits have propelled IP telephony solutions up on the adoption curve with 50% of all new phones shipped now being IP phones. 1.2 The Replacement Phase The second phase of IP telephony is largely a replacement for legacy voice services with favorable return on investment. This second phase has offered IT management the ability to deploy a new enterprise voice solution with 15% to 50% savings, depending on installed base. Thus the IP telephony market currently offers economic efficiency and mobility as its key value proposition. But the current phase offers little strategic value to an organization. 1.3 The Strategic Value Phase The third phase of IP telephony is based upon a value proposition of strategic value vs. economic efficiency. Two new industry developments are propelling this new phase. First, the rapid adoption of a protocol called SIP or Session Initiation Protocol. SIP, in short, standardizes the signaling of calls or communications between different types of devices/end-points from different vendors such as IP phones, IM clients, soft phones, smartphones, etc. Perhaps more importantly, SIP also simplifies the writing of communication applications. The second development is the introduction of web services to write business applications, which incorporate communications. SIP combined with web services is enabling the linking of business process with communications, delivering strategic value. In short, web services and SIP are empowering IT to automate business process by easily adding communications into that process, the result being high strategic value to business process. Thus the third phase of IP telephony is called the strategic value phase. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 2
  • 1.4 Telecommunications Management In Flux The implications of the strategic value phase are nothing short of business transformational. Before we dive into the third phase, an important organizational “cultural” dynamic has been occurring and will accelerate as IP telephony enters into this strategic value stage. Since IP telephony solutions are deployed over Ethernet switches and routers while communication managers offer signaling services and telephony features on standard computing platforms, organizations have had to re- think the roles and responsibilities of IT and telecommunication departments. IT management is able to easily incorporate server-based telephony platforms into its existing server and storage management and operations. Further, since VoIP travels over Ethernet switches and routers, network managers have naturally taken over the responsibility of design, support and maintenance of the IP telephony transport solution. Many organizations have found that the skills and resources of traditional telecommunications managers are increasingly being narrowed to that of dial plan design and service provider management. Thus many telecommunication managers and directors focused on transport management have been either re-trained or are in advisory roles to IT management or business division managers. In short, the role of the telecommunication director or manager is in flux. Enter the third phase of IP telephony and web services, where IT management will be empowered to develop applications without the need to understand complex communication protocols and you have a further diminishing value of the telecommunication manager’s role in corporate communications. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 3
  • 1.5 It’s A New World Of Communications With IP telephony solutions being economically viable, reliable, stable and available nearly all enterprises are either in a planning or deployment posture. There is no alternative to IP telephony other than a delay strategy. An enterprise could wait until legacy systems are fully depreciated or until their TDM system is so old that support and replacement parts have diminished and are no longer available. The entire IT vendor community including network equipment and software suppliers plus service providers will increasingly offer new products and services with deep IP telephony hooks and features, increasing value to IP telephony deployments. The IP telephony deployment decision has transitioned from one of should I deploy to when I deploy. With the convergence of voice and data at the network layer a fait accompli, the entire IT industry has started to shift its focus and investments toward tightly linking communications to business process. In short, convergence is moving up the stack to the application layer. There are strong economic drivers fueling Internet and web technologies, best practices and rapid agreement on standards. For example, OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) is a catalyst for web services, as a not-for-profit international consortium that drives the development, convergence, and adoption of web services standards more than any other organization. Founded in 1993, OASIS, backed by the World Trade Organization (WTO), has more than 4,000 participants representing over 600 organizations and individual members in 100 countries. 1.6 Web Services Opens Communications To IT Developers With web services being the new programming interface for IP telephony, communications programming will no longer be the province of an elite and relatively closed community of programmers. In fact, a general purpose IT developer with web services skills will soon be able to program communications just as well as those with years of communications programming experience. This new emphasis on business communication applications based upon web services and SIP will further shift IP telephony architecture, design and purchase decisions toward IT management and business stake holders and away from telecommunications management and communications developers. Business communications applications means a development focus on business process alignment with communications. Business process is either structured or unstructured. For example, structured business process could simply be the levels and number of signatures required to open a purchase order, or the human resources life cycle that tracks an employee from hire to retire. The links of a supply chain or levels of a distribution system and the communications which control them are structured business process with strong cause and effect consequences. The hundreds of e-mails, voice calls and instant messages per day which most knowledge workers respond to is a less structured form of business process, but it is process. Office productivity communication flows, be they voice calls, instant messages, voice mail, faxes, e-mail, conferencing, etc., are all examples of unstructured business process. When you’re communicating you’re engaged in either a structured or unstructured business process. Unfortunately, unstructured means a loose coupling or alignment between communications and business process. This is about to change. At the epicenter of both structured and unstructured business process is collaboration or the ability for employees, partners and suppliers to move work flow and satisfy customers. The movement of information over converged IP networks Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 4
  • has been a boon to corporate productivity. Nearly every corporation in the global economy has benefited from IP networks as they have enabled the extracting of delay, both human and system, in business process. In business process it’s not just humans who have to engage another human in communication to move work product forward; it’s the inability of humans to react to situations in microseconds. Communications-enabled business process can. For example, a triggered event that automatically engages the right personnel or applications or an alert that automatically puts in motion a business process to address a situation is communications-enabled business process. Communications-enabled business process can be event driven with an ability to sense a business scenario, which triggers an event and the ability for the enterprise to respond in real time, if required. Deeply embedding communication into the business process offers the following value: improves knowledge worker productivity, enables the business to respond in near real time to situations, and enables Business Communication-Activity Monitoring or (BCAM). Creating a business application enabled by communication for situational context is at the heart of IP telephony’s third phase. A rules-driven communication environment, which is tightly linked into business process, will enable enterprises to realize strategic value from IP telephony solutions. So what are the killer applications? The answer is there is no single killer application, but many smaller, customized applications that in their totality are the killer application. Many enterprises have started their own application development efforts by extracting delay associated with unstructured business process with click- to-call and click-to-conference tools while in the process aligning communications with business needs. Just like IT focused on automating structured business process such as transaction processing over the past forty years, removing delay to organize knowledge workers into conferences will be one of the first applications to be automated and integrated into business process. The ability to improve communications between organizations and remove impediments in the value chain is of high strategic value to most concerns. 1.7 Strategic Alignment of Communications to Business Process There is a strategic alignment of communications to business process taking place. Re-enforced corporate branding, enhancement of customer service and improved internal communications are all options to this new alignment. Corporations do not have to re-engineer business process to reap the rewards of communications- enabled applications though. Fandango, one of the largest US online and phone movie ticketing services, needed a voice communication system that differentiated it from its main competitor Moviefone. IP telephony allowed Fandango to easily experiment with its primary customer interface, the phone. Fandango tried more than 30 options for background music, prompts and recorded voices before finally settling on a theme built around a classical guitar piece, a fandango, so apropos. The system allows Fandango to rapidly tailor and swap in new local welcome messages and movie highlights, making it an extension of the online brand. Communication-enhanced business process is allowing the enterprise to realize its profit drivers and corporate initiatives, whether those initiatives are to increase customer satisfaction, grow revenues, engage in inter-company market development, extend brand, expand operations globally or improve productivity. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 5
  • 1.8 Open IT Programming Interfaces For Communications Just like mainframes gave way to mini computers, which gave way to PCs connected on LANs, the PBX has given way to IP telephony. Mainframes were expensive and hard to program which extended the time for application development. Mainframe- based IT application development projects were often late, over budget and didn’t meet business objectives due to their complicated programming interfaces. Client/server-based applications were easier to write and often developed by IT within business units. The result of this shift from centralized to distributed application development was quicker time to market and application development being conducted closer to the business which increased the project’s potential for meeting business requirements. Clearly the client-server model has given way to internet technologies and increasingly, web services. IP telephony is being folded into, and over time will be controlled by, web services. With SIP and web services business communications applications are being written by IT departments tightly linking communications to business process. The change in programming interfaces to one that is friendly to IT departments will both hasten application development and link communication applications to business stakeholders. With programming access available to a larger developer community, rapid innovation and creativity of new communications-based business applications will also flourish as the cycle of proprietary to open has shown before. Transition Toward Intelligent Business Communications From To Hardware-based value Software- and services-based value Specialized communications software General purpose IT-based applications Economic efficiency motivation Strategic alignment of business process Communications Conversation-based Business Transactions Communications specific programming General purpose web services interfaces programming Telecommunication departments IT organizations Silo communications applications Integrated communications-enabled business applications With IT empowered to mold, shape and inject communications into business process, IT can play a major role with executive management in constructing an agile and customer-facing corporation. Communications-enabled business applications add a new dimension to a variety of business related activities including person-person, system-person, and system-system communication- driven activities. Businesses with communications-enablement will differentiate themselves from other non- communications-enabled businesses. Daily decisions are made by executives based upon market/competition/disaster events. Executive decisions put an organization in motion and often result in a series of downstream decisions, facilitated by the enterprise’s communications infrastructure. The more efficient and linked the communications system is with the business the more agile the enterprise. Unfortunately, businesses could not realize a 360 degree communications view of their business until now. Communication will be driven by the rules of the business in this new world. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 6
  • 1.9 Migration Strategy For Developers IT and now the communications industry often transitions from proprietary to open programming interfaces. The days of vertically integrated proprietary communication application development are limited. Providing programmers separate layers to mix and match will be the basis of a transition or migration plan. Communication Application Programming Interfaces or APIs are destined to be common with IT development practices. This does not mean to say that TSAPI, JTAPI, CTI, etc., will disappear, but their use will fade over time as developers embrace web services and SIP as the primary way to write applications which link communications with business applications. Developers should be able to continue to use familiar APIs, mix and match APIs with communication web services or transition to communication-based web services altogether. The underpinning communication capabilities should be reflected through either API set consistently. Communication APIs and their derivative application works must support a higher level of abstraction above them. Migration and transitional developer support will be the basis of competition between IP telephony equipment suppliers such as Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, Siemens, Alcatel, NEC, Mitel, etc. While migration is important to the communications developer, the new business application developers should not be forced to deal with the complexities of telecommunication networks and systems. Some developers may have the view that today’s telephony technology allows for a great deal of flexibility. For example, developers can write programs that turn calls into e-mail and/or audio files. Developers can offer contact center agents the ability to communicate with customers via interactive desktops too. But to enable these communication services requires developers to cross communication silos of e-mail, v-mail, chat, instant messaging, etc., all with their own set of complexities. IP converges application silos onto one network, but the application integration is still too complex and brittle. To cross these silos developers often find themselves with an “n-squared” problem to write to and most importantly to maintain. The “n-squared” problem is unsuitable for use as a foundation for business-critical processes. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 7
  • 1.10 Communications-Enabled Business Process: Solving the N-Squared Problem One can articulate to knowledge workers and executives what the new world of communications-enabled business process will be like, but it’s difficult to conceptualize. The value will become clearer once SIP becomes more embedded. SIP will go a long way toward solving the n-squared problem for developers. SIP simplifies multi-modal sessions, meaning communications between different end- points such as hard IP phones, softphones, IM clients, mobile phones, smartphones, etc. SIP will set up and tear down communication sessions with a single set of primitives. When you reach out to someone, SIP tells you which media that person prefers to use to communicate. For example, Jane needs to communicate with Joe and Sally to address an important customer issue. Jane requests a session with Joe and Sally. Joe is on a smartphone while Sally is in a conference call. Sally responds to Jane’s request via an IM and specifies IM as her preference while Joe is available on his smartphone. The session takes place with Joe on his smartphone, Sally on IM and Jane on her softphone. Multi-modal access is powerful because it extends reachability, but it must also be simple to use and access to be useful. This kind of flexibility to reach people is but one example of how communications- enabled business applications will increase productivity and customer satisfaction. On a larger scale, SIP will enable agents in contact centers to reach people throughout the entire enterprise based upon rules of engagement. More on this later. From the above example, SIP enables seamless connectivity of networking elements and end-points so that both developers and more importantly employees need not be concerned with individual nuances of each communication silo. SIP does make networks flatter and more distributed, eliminating discontinuities between communication silos, but it still requires SIP developers to understand the complex behavior of telecommunications networks and systems. To gain the value of SIP, end-points must be SIP end-points meaning that SIP is a forward migration strategy. SIP is a major underpinning for communications-enablement. But it is not the only underpinning because of the need to provide backward migration of an embedded base of systems to gracefully migrate towards SIP IP telephony at an enterprise’s pace. There are still many features only available through traditional communication resources. This is another key differential point between IP telephony suppliers. Some suppliers will expose all communication resources, be they SIP features or non SIP-based features, across a SIP or TDM network to the business developer, without their needing to know the intricacies or transactional behavior of the individual communication resources. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 8
  • In the reality of today’s mixed communications world, a SIP developer can use it to expose features, but this requires a SIP-skilled developer. With web services exposure of SIP features, any IT developer, not just an IP/SIP knowledgeable developer, can utilize SIP features without knowing how SIP, the protocol, works. In short, web services abstracts and hides SIP and other communication protocols into a set of common primitives such as make a call, hang up call, transfer call, conference call, etc., so the developer does not need to know the underlying languages and their associated syntax. 1.11 A New Development Environment Emerges In the 1990s data communications was accomplished with a wide range of protocols such as Appletalk, IPX, Netbious, DecNet, OSI, Banyan Vines, TCP/IP, et al. These protocols all had their own APIs as well. Today communications have a wide range of protocols and APIs available to developers such as TSAPI, JTAPI, CVLAN, ASAI, CTI 1 and CTI 2. Over time these APIs will both be available from and give way to SIP and web services-based constructs such as XML, Java, SOAP, SIP, SIMPLE, etc., just like all data communication protocols gave way to TCP/IP. A Shift In Communication Application Development Tools In Out XML TSAPI Java JTAPI SOAP CVLAN SIP ASAI SIMPLE CTI Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 9
  • In five years, today’s valuable skills such as programming ISDN interfaces or CTI 1 and 2 coding will become less valuable as SIP and web services become the dominant set of developer tools. Granted, these software tools will make connecting business process easier, but how do you turn this into something useful? E-mail’s evolution offers a model. Once e-mail was used primarily between scientists and academics to quickly share information and collaborate. In the 1980s, corporations found that e-mail could hasten their business process too by improving productivity well before the internet took off in the mid 90s. With the internet and e-commerce boom, system generated e-mail became integrated into transaction processing by providing buyers confirmation of their purchases and shipment tracking information. E-mail transitioned from a person-to-person communications medium to a person-to- system and even a system-to-system communications channel. Communications-enabled business process may follow a similar path albeit with a deeper set of multiple communications modes such as e-mail, IM, chat, voice, v- mail, conferencing, etc. Most think of communications as a means for person to person interaction, but in a communications-enabled business the business process may initiate a call when an exception and intervention is required. People and processes will be made more real-time thanks to communications. To facilitate these different types of flows, a rules-based platform is required. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 10
  • Section 2: SOA, Web Services & SIP Revolutionize Communications: 2.1 The Perfect IT Storm IP networks and web services permit telecommunication-oriented services and business application-oriented services to blend together in ways never before possible in support of simplifying human activities, enriching human collaboration and optimizing business processes. Conditions are right for the development community at large to deliver on the long-awaited promise of innovation over IP. This innovation will not come just from the few thousands proficient in CTI, but rather from millions of developers already skilled in coding Java and .NET applications and the business analysts who will compose applications using Services orientated modeling tools and Business Process Execution Language (BPEL). 2.2 The Schism: Internet and Web Impart Disruptive Forces on Telecommunications Networks and Service-Creation Considerable advances made in service-creation efficiencies for telecommunications networks through the early 1990’s were stopped in their tracks just following the advent of the web browser. In the decade spanning1995 to 2005, as the on-line Internet population expanded from a minority to a majority, the focus and capital investment of the telecommunications industry turned to the network. First telecommunication providers diverted internet dial-up traffic off the public circuit-switched network infrastructure onto a separate IP network for internet. Subsequently telecommunication providers invested in making the IP infrastructure reliable enough to support basic voice services. During this time, billions spent on applications creation efficiency went by the wayside as service innovation ground to a halt. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 11
  • 2.3 Superplatforms and Applistructure, Commercial Implementations of SOA and Web Services While the telecommunication service providers were busy with basic network build out, the enterprise market was focused on integrating web technologies into their portfolio of corporate IT services. The cost of application integration and maintenance consumes as much as 60% of enterprise IT budgets. The IT vendor community is serving up a suite of tools to address the most difficult and costly aspects of an IT organization, application integration across different systems to address business process and flows. Companies such as Microsoft, BEA, IBM, Oracle/Siebel/PeopleSoft, Open Source and SAP offer what has come to be known as superplatforms or Applistructure. Applistructure is the merger of enterprise application and infrastructure technology. Superplatforms are the next generation of application servers, which provide a high degree of cohesiveness in that common tools provide access to development, security, management, operations, etc. There is a thick vs. thin dichotomy brewing: Superplatforms versus lighter-weight Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) frameworks. Both are based upon Service Oriented Architectures in support of web services. ESB is a standards-based integration platform that combines messaging, web services, and data transformation to reliably connect and coordinate the interaction of significant numbers of diverse applications across extended enterprises with transactional integrity. Thick or thin, it is the spiraling cost and inflexibility of integrating disparate best-of-breed solutions into end-to-end business processes which are driving organizations towards consolidating their software applications, infrastructure and systems management. Within the enterprise, service creation efficiencies are driven by: 1. Dominant business applications 2. Infrastructure software vendors, 3. Large enterprises best practices, 4. Commerce-oriented standards organizations such as OASIS and W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). Coming into 2006, businesses are prioritizing growth and new value creation to drive their future technology investments and view SOA governance frameworks as a means to achieve high ROI (Return on Investment) at ever-decreasing TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). For the first time in the history of communications and computing, both are aligned in service creation strategy being web services with an SOA governance framework. This synergy will offer massive economies of scale and application interoperability. In short, this synergy is game changing for both the telecommunications and IT industries. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 12
  • 2.4 SOA and Web Services Defined A few definitions are in order, particularly SOA and web services. SOA or Service- Oriented Architecture is the policies, practices and frameworks that enable application functionality to be provided and requested as sets of services published at a granularity relevant to the service requestor, which are abstracted away from the implementation using a single, standards-based form of interface. SOA means you have a platforming mentality with a well-integrated infrastructure from which to deploy web services. SOA is an IT approach/strategy for business. SOA also means a set of capabilities that are not tethered to the programming environment from which they are offered. Web Service is an application that provides a Web API, which is an application-to- application programming interface that lets the applications communicate using XML and the Web. The purpose of a Web API is to enable heterogeneous application integration. Web Services support any programming language running on any platform. A word about the term “services”. Services are connected together using Web Services. Services are what a business uses for some functionality. That functionality may come as a web service, or it may not. In today’s environment, a number of services are offered in a web services technology. But some are offered as part of an enterprise service bus, which may or may not be web services driven. The key is the right granularity of capability so that the developer is off-loaded from a lot of detail, and not encumbered by the environment from which the service is given. A service is the end-point of a connection. Also, a service has some type of underlying computer system that supports the connection offered. The combination Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 13
  • of services, internal and external to an organization, makes up a service-oriented architecture. Web Services Technologies include: XML (eXtensible Markup Language): This is the data format for passing messages between applications. SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol): This is the protocol for transporting data between the requestor of a service and the provider of the service. WSDL (Web Services Description Language): This is the language used to describe the Web services. UDDI (Universal Description and Discovery of Information): This is a registry where available services are published. Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an approach to enterprise architecture that abstracts IT functionality into business-oriented services. The application of SOA to IT governance promises to provide the visibility and control necessary for IT governance, while increasing the business agility required by today's organizations. For enterprises to progress toward SOA governance a shift not only in technology but thinking and behavior is required. The graphic below illustrates this point. Many IP telephony concerns have either offered or soon will be offering application servers that incorporate SOA and web services developer constructs to tightly link communications and business applications. For example, a new Avaya Intelligent Communications development platform for integration, orchestration and services- based composition promises to enable the fusion of right-time communications into business applications and processes. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 14
  • With IT telephony providers embracing web services and SOA architecture, developers are empowered to provide all of the “wrap around” to address business issues quickly through collaborative communications. This “wrap around” goes well beyond SIP and presence, which has occupied the telecommunications industry for some time. SIP and presence is in essence only the beginning. Consider the requirement for a real time meeting with a group of executives. As a request is made to organize a conference, the communications-enabled business application will know simple but important pieces of information, such as who is on vacation and who is not. For those not available, the communications-enabled business application will know their alternate. Presence, the knowledge and dissemination of one’s on-line state, is driven by personal rules. Presence will clearly be an important piece of information that the communications-enabled business application will use in facilitating an on-line meeting. But the business has its own rules, which could usurp presence’s personal rules. Thus the communications-enabled business application could call in someone on vacation or at home to address an emergency. While SIP facilitates open interoperability between communication networks, network elements such as gateways and media servers and end-points, it still requires application developers to possess specialized knowledge of real-time communications to enable new value creation. To deliver on the promise of services over IP, next generation service delivery platforms must effectively insulate the business analysts and application developers from the complexity of real-time communications. This is accomplished by development platforms supporting open standards-based services and tools that allow customers to “compose” highly differentiating business scenarios that can evolve in real time along with their strategies. 2.5 The Growth of Web Services Web services/SOA is a powerful force in the IT and telecommunications communities since it addresses the entire supply chain of an enterprise by abstracting the multitude of APIs into a standard set of programming interfaces with SOA governed business applications. IP telephony suppliers offer real- time communications into an SOA construct by using web services as the main programming interface into real time communication application servers. Bringing the right information to the right people at the right time will allow business to be effective. Web services enable convergence and IP telephony infrastructure consolidation to go further up the protocol stack. SIP and SIMPLE are foundational communication-oriented protocols that will, in time, reduce the complexity and cost of the real-time communication infrastructure, bringing multi-modal access as part of the business process. SIP and SIMPLE are callable services which will be available through web services interface. Current status is that a web service for communications is at the early stage of adoption, but promises to be variable in granularity and useful for businesses to consume and extend. Call recording is the most popular web service for communications today. Web services enablement are simple make call, hang up, transfer, hold/record, etc. Click-to-call for example is a powerful tool in financial services for power dial applications. In addition to easier communication methods, more and more communication manager administration and end-point configuration will be pushed down to users allowing them to customize their communication experience. Web interfaces allow users to easily turn features on and off. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 15
  • Conference and office productivity improvements are the current focus of new web services features. Linking to an Outlook calendar or turning on a cellular phone when you are out of the office are incremental productivity improvements. Click-to- conference or on demand conference brings communications-enabled business process via web services up to another level. Extending conference capability to include associates, customers, partners with notification and respond starts the linking of communications with a set of business applications. Notifying users of a conference request with situational context increases the value even further. Managing conference attendance increases the value of the system yet again, by triggering an escalation mode if an attendee can’t participate. Other examples of communications-enabled business applications through Web Services are outbound dialing and web phone. In outbound dialing, consider the need for a reverse 9-1-1 service. An emergency at school which requires parental contact immediately and easily could be automated and may be in the form of e- mail, voice mail, cellular, phone, etc. This is much more efficient than today’s dialer campaign. With only a handful of code, developers have provided a Web phone for their corporation which integrates their corporate directory. An employee can use a web based softphone anywhere in the world to make calls and contact employees. The enablement of a customer-facing organization offers a view into what is possible with communications-enabled business process. These communications-enabled applications are enabled by an architecture which is streamlined; one platform, one communications manager, end point agnostic be it a sip phone, IP phone, analog or digital phone, PDA, etc. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 16
  • But with all these advancements web service implementations can be difficult too. Imagine a siloed application with some web services that call upon the application’s functions. Now multiply that by “n” number of siloed applications. You get web services, but you have a mess underneath to maintain. The key to simplifying maintenance is a single composition platform, i.e., middleware that connects to a scaleable media processing infrastructure. Then developers can take discreet parts of communication applications and re- engineer each of those parts into functional blocks of code. From each functional block of code a developer extends a web service, which is an XML- based contract for its respective functional block. The Web Service contract (WSDL) describes the methods of the functional block, such as feature-levels, in a manner which other applications/web services can inspect, dynamically bind to and call upon its methods/features at run time. Applications can be thought of as one person who does everything. Web Services are like a group of people who each perform a specific function towards a unified goal. UDDI, as mentioned above, is a who’s-who directory in a web services world. Web services offers the hope to make communications-enabled application development easier to pull together people who know communications and business process so organizations can communicate more effectively by streamlining business process. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 17
  • Section 3: How Developers Can Profit From The New Business Process Platform Communications software as a web service that can be massively consumed at a business level without the heavy burden of CTI-style integration, provided that web service is underpinned by an SOA, offers enormous opportunities for developers. Many of these opportunities allow independent software vendors or ISVs to engage in strategic relationships with executive IT management rather than tactical ones with telecommunication managers/directors. ISVs will be empowered to link communications to corporate databases, workflow and knowledge management software and other resources to support business decision-making. For the first time, ISVs will be able to contribute to a discussion on how to improve and transform what a business does and how it does it. System Integrators and ISVs will be able to look at a business’s current applications and determine, based on business process demands, what elements need to be re-factored into discrete intelligent communication services. Gone are the days of writing communication applications without the knowledge, rules and assumptions of the business process. While enterprises have only the “delay option” to deploy IP telephony, developers will have no other choice but to embrace web services and SIP. For ISVs, the delay option could be fatal. Developers will have to embrace this software only platform to move forward. An increasing number of new services will emerge on the web services platform, driven mainly by customer demand. The platform will be increasingly more reliable, scalable, and secure as platform suppliers compete and increase their investments. Programmer improvements such as drop and drag services on a developer palette in commercially accepted service creation environments will speed development time by the rapid use of re-usable code. The world of IT and telecommunications service creation is pushing everything in the direction of a SOA-based platform. For developers if you’re reluctant or slow to change, unfortunately your business will become increasingly diminished. The enterprise developer has already started to move in this direction and is the early adopter. IT management is the decision maker in telecom. ISVs will increasingly need to speak their language in order to remain relevant. 3.1 The Upside ISVs need not despair; the platform vendors will make the transition as painless as possible. There will be much experimentation in the new world. In fact, the velocity of new applications will be high. The cost of software development will plummet as IP telephony providers make simulators available to developers. No longer will developers need to purchase expensive hardware to test and run their code. Simulators will lower the cost barrier of entry for all developers. With a lower barrier of entry, developers will be able to rapidly prototype solutions and enter markets. Once an ISV is linked into a corporation’s business process, it’s very difficult to be de- coupled. In short, web services create very sticky business relationships. Consider the following quote from John D. Halamka, MD, CIO, Harvard Medical School: “Every year 98,000 patients die due to preventable medical errors in the business process of care. That's equivalent to a 747 crashing every day, killing all aboard. If hospitals were airlines, would you fly?” Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 18
  • An ISV which improves the business process of health care by just 10% may save nearly 10,000 lives. What is that worth to the patient’s family and the hospital and to the ISVs relationship with the health care industry? There is enormous value. How can an ISV create such value? Consider a caregiver confronted with an emergency medical situation. The care giver could scan a list of available doctors presented on his wireless tablet computer, and with the click of a stylus, speak instantly with the most appropriate specialist, wherever he or she is located and on whatever end-point they are closest to. By linking communication with hospital databases and monitoring systems, the specialist could be provided with a real-time view of the patient’s history and vital statistics providing the assistance the sought by the caregiver. 3.2 Customer-Facing Organizations Another example of how communications-enabled web services can transform a business is by creating a customer-facing organization. The evolution of the contact center is both expanding the agent pool to include knowledge workers and linking agent interactions with business applications. Agents are increasingly requiring more access to enterprise resources thanks to web services providing the programming interface into business process. Agents have been building ad hoc ways of reaching back into the enterprise. Many leverage public IM services to find experts within their own enterprise to address customer issues. This has opened up security issues, is not measurable and does not provide journaling. The effectiveness of the agent reaching into the enterprise for assistance is situational upon the agent’s experience and the size of their professional network. Enterprises can systematize this and measure it so knowledge workers can be part of an agent’s network. Web services can tighten the linkage between agents and their enterprise back office systems. After an agent’s interaction with a customer and transaction is completed, the enterprise needs to know what occurred and take action upon it. This linking of agents to back office systems and enabling a more structured way in which they can reach into the enterprise are opportunities for ISVs. ISVs can develop communications-enabled web services business applications, which allow agents to communicate via web chat session with customers and knowledge workers. Currently, no one is managing knowledge workers as they are increasingly being included into the agent pool. What is the impact to the enterprise when knowledge workers are part of a customer-facing organization? If the agents can reach a knowledge worker, what does that do to their productivity? Manage and control are key areas where ISVs can add value. Also, adding value to administrator reporting tools in a web services-enhanced contact center is another opportunity for ISVs. Web services interfaces into management functions are another key value add for ISVs. There are opportunities to develop management tools that build and integrate across the enterprise. ISVs could look for integration challenges for business, which web services, SOA and SIP solve. Enterprises continue to have a lot of legacy, which will not change any time soon. Integrating legacy IT systems into an SOA context with management tools offers tremendous areas of ISV opportunity. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 19
  • 3.3 A More Competitive World For communication programmers and their ISVs the new world of SOA, Web Service and SIP offer both opportunity and risk. There is no doubt that this world will become more competitive. As the graphic below illustrates, there are thousands of CTI-based developers. As web services become more widely deployed, the developer pool of who can call communication services will expand to over 20 million. In five years, web services with SIP will become mainstream. It will brew over the rest of this decade until critical mass is achieved and most services are callable by web services. The good news is that web services and SIP are easier to develop applications and offers lower cost of experimenting. SIP and a web services simulator makes the development process all software and will fit into a well-understood tool set. For ISVs with web services skills, your knowledge will be more extensible to engage in system integration projects that have larger strategic value and corporate impact. The telecom developer with web services skills will be able to cross into other domains, but unfortunately so too will IT developers. In short, web services allow this to cut both ways. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 20
  • 4.0: Summary The web services platform will be increasingly packaged for intelligent communications in a form that is friendly to IT departments. Communication application development platforms are rapidly being aligned with major IT and telecommunication superplatforms based upon web services and SOA. Enterprise IT departments are the early adaptors of web services as a means to write communications-enabled business process. The communication application development platforms will increasingly add drop and insert interoperability capability with enterprise applications such as SAP, IBM, Oracle BEA, Microsoft, Open Source, et al., which will allow rapid automation of communication-enabled business process. This “container approach” within application development servers that allow application assets to be dropped and inserted into standard tooling will facilitate business process executables and hasten intelligent communications wrapped around business process. There are many opportunities and challenges for ISVs in this new world. The largest challenge is the increased competitive nature of this business over time. But the opportunities are great as well. Not only will those ISVs who successfully embrace the new world be rewarded with higher level and deeper relationships with their customers but they will also be presented with new revenue generating service opportunities. In the new web services world, a consulting front-end is required to identify and define how communications can be aligned with business process rules. In short, this is a new business cycle, market and a new ecosystem in creation. These opportunities redefine market share, winners and losers and only happen once every few decades. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 21
  • About Nick Lippis Nicholas J. Lippis III is a world-renowned authority on advanced IP networks, communications and their benefits to business objectives. He works with clients developing converged network architecture, which includes IP telephony, secure networks, wireless LANs, internet data centers and storage area networking. He is the publisher of the popular Lippis Report, a resource for network and IT business decision makers; www.lippis.com. He writes the Lippis on Communications column for Network World and is the chairman and host of the Enterprise IP Communications Symposium, Trusted Networks Symposium and Enterprise Networks conferences where corporate network architects and designers learn and share industry best practices. Mr. Lippis was named one of the top 40 most powerful and influential people in the networking industry by Network World. He has advised numerous Global 2000 firms on network architecture, design, implementation, vendor selection and budgeting, with clients including Barclays Bank, Microsoft, Kaiser Permanente, Sprint, Worldcom, Cigitel, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Avaya, Eastman Kodak Company, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Hughes Aerospace, Liberty Mutual, Schering- Plough and many others. He works exclusively with CIOs and their direct reports. Mr. Lippis possesses a unique perspective of market forces and trends occurring within the computer networking industry derived from his experience with both supply and demand side clients. Mr. Lippis founded Strategic Networks Consulting, Inc., a well-respected and influential computer networking industry-consulting concern, which was purchased by Softbank/Ziff-Davis in 1996. For nine years Mr. Lippis reached over 120,000 purchasers of networking equipment and services through his monthly column “Lippis on Internetworking” published in Data Communications magazine. He was a contributing editor and columnist for Tele.Com magazine reaching over 80,000 service provider professionals monthly. He currently writes the “Lippis on IP Communications” column for Network World reaching 180,000 in print and 850,000 online. He publishes The Lippis Report, which is distributed to over 360,000 senior IT executives around the world. Mr. Lippis’ reach exceeds 1,400,000 readers. He is a frequent keynote speaker at industry events and is widely quoted in the business and industry press. Mr. Lippis received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and his Master of Science in Systems Engineering from Boston University. His Masters' thesis work included selected technical courses and advisors from Massachusetts Institute of Technology on optical communications and computing. Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 22
  • About Lippis Consulting Lippis Consulting provides a wide range of enterprise consulting services to enable corporate technology executives to maximize their IT budget and existing infrastructure. Our consultants have extensive experience working with F1000 clients, enabling them to align their IT strategy with corporate business objectives. Lippis Consulting Services include: IT budget spend analysis and industry comparison Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis Alternative technology assessment (ROI) Network infrastructure and security audit Infrastructure optimization analysis Network design & architecture Outsourcing options Carrier services evaluation & rationalization Strategic vendor/partner selection Next Generation Business Communications Applications: The New Business Process Platform | Page 23