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SOA, Web Services and Enterprise 2.0 in the Contact Center


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SOA, Web Services and Enterprise 2.0 in the Contact Center

  1. 1. White Paper SOA, Web Services and Enterprise 2.0 in the Contact Center We live in an age where the customer • The contact center agent who can’t • The hospital that loses valuable time is king and minor blips in customer quickly and easily answer a question after a cataclysmic fire when it takes service can instantly become the about why the freight handler’s driver too many precious minutes to locate fodder of social networking and video due at a customer site has not arrived and contact burn task force resources sharing Internet sites. Companies are • The merchandising executive of a When you step back and evaluate these struggling to understand how they television home shopping network incidents, the pattern that emerges is a can streamline existing processes, or who wastes expensive on-air time lack of coordination of people, data or create new ones, that improve service not knowing that the product being processes across disparate departments delivery to customers. And, even when pitched is not driving the expected and divisions within the organization. the latest technology is available to contact center or web site traffic Each department has dutifully auto- serve customers through their preferred • The distribution center that continues mated many activities. The data has all mechanism, bottlenecks can and do to package and ship a product that has been safely encoded into application occur that can cause unnecessary been found to be defective because databases. Employees have complex customer frustration. the alerting phone call is sitting in the combinations of desk phones, soft Consider the impact the following voicemail of a vacationing manager phones and mobile communication examples have on customer service: capabilities. And yet communication slow-downs that cost in both dollars and hard-earned goodwill persist. The problem? People, data and processes are not shared across these individual organizational silos. Ironically, we live in a world of consumer communications where tools and services available are more timely, more relevant and more advanced, capable of solving the very problems that hamper communication and information flows today.
  2. 2. Web 2.0 and its impact on consistently. One area where Enterprise • Make contact center outputs, such the enterprise 2.0 thinking is already driving change as real-time and historical reports Web 2.0 is often used to describe web is in the use of consumer and worker- or call recordings, available to technologies and services that focus on friendly Web 2.0 technologies to create a broader group of enterprise collaboration, user-created content, rich interactive front-ends to existing employees, allowing them to run information and knowledge sharing, back-end systems. A key enabler of their departments more effectively and social connections. Services such as this marriage between Web 2.0 and While still in the early stages of devel- Facebook, Wikipedia and most recently the enterprise’s collection of processes opment, Enterprise 2.0 and service- Twitter are iconic examples of Web 2.0 and applications is service-oriented oriented architecture are already being tools used on a daily basis by millions to architecture (SOA). used to build a bridge between the aid in the flow of information and data. In the past few years, the concept of a excitement of Web 2.0 and the security The success of Web 2.0 services, like service-oriented architecture approach and productivity concerns of organiza- social networking sites used as a means to business systems has emerged as a tions. Using Web Services interfaces, of collaborating and sharing infor- partial antidote to disparate, siloed integration was built between the Nortel mation, initially led to attempts to information technology systems. SOA Contact Center solution and multiple transplant those capabilities into the is not a product, but an architecture virtual world environments (e.g., enterprise. Many companies found, approach and set of patterns for imple- Second Life and web.alive) in 2008. In however, that Web 2.0 efforts were menting agile, loosely-coupled dynamic 2009, the same interface was used to fragmented — siloed from everyday applications. With SOA, IT programs develop a Twitter integration. This is a operations. For example, blogs and and resources can be made available as contact center-specific proof point that wikis available to customers were not business services delivering discrete busi- once the SOA-based building blocks are closely integrated or linked with ness functions, such as ‘Get Customer in place, additional applications can be internal resources, such as those used Details’. Individual services can then created and deployed with ease. by agents in the contact center. This be used and reused as building blocks, But many organizations are still asking resulted in frustration for both agents assembled together into other business questions about why and how they and customers when the information functions and processes as required. bring Enterprise 2.0 and communica- available to each group was not the SOA solutions help organizations access tions enablement to the contact center same, or was not updated with the existing IT resources, assemble them using SOA and Web Services. The same frequency. into larger business processes and make FAQs below offer answers to some of As companies continue to wrestle with the outputs available to users in order these questions, highlighting the bene- the implications of Web 2.0 technology to run the organization more effectively. fits that can be derived both today and pervading the workplace, the focus is Applying the logic of the last statement into the future, the impact on customer beginning to change from a consumer- to the new generation of SOA-enabled service and organization culture, and centric approach to a business-centric contact center applications, it is now the technology decisions involved in one. Instead of thinking about whether possible to: bringing Enterprise 2.0 services into Facebook is an appropriate tool for the the contact center. • Help contact centers access existing enterprise, the question is becoming IT resources without extensive custom what business challenges can best be programming, e.g., more easily Understanding the benefits met using collaboration tools. than with traditional CTI-based How are SOA and Web Services Enterprise 2.0 is a new term that approaches related to the operation and stra- describes the efforts to bring Web 2.0 • Allow contact center processes tegic mission of the contact center? benefits to the workplace. The vision to become part of larger business With the use of SOA and Web Services, of Enterprise 2.0 is a workplace where processes, e.g., a phone call from a benefits accrue at two levels: the IT collaboration and information sharing car insurance customer reporting an organization and the business user. The take place freely within the organiza- accident becomes an integral part initial wave of SOA-driven IT transfor- tion, where processes are integrated of the claim process mation was about making the business and information is available and used more efficient. Technology groups used 2
  3. 3. Web Services and SOA to get more would allow the creation of work- new car’s value, Web Services should done for their internal customers. The flows that automatically push user not be looked at as a separate element. focus has now shifted to consumption data from SOA-enabled enterprise Integrating the contact center to of SOA-based Web Services capabilities applications to and from the contact enterprise applications is not the goal, by a wider audience within the orga- center. For example, the contact but an enabler. nization (the contact center, sales and center system could take employee Another surprise? Web Services enable- marketing departments, billing, etc.). data directly from a human resources ment of the contact center solution typi- system for new hires —and just as From the business user point of view, cally does not have a specific cost. Some simply delete the access of former these technologies enable development vendors, like Nortel, have built SOA employees from the contact center of a new generation of dynamic applica- and Web Services capability into its system. tions that address a number of top-level contact center application. A company • Enhanced business decision- business concerns that are central to that regularly upgrades its solution, or making: Contact center activity growth and competitiveness. In the chooses a new contact center application reports are often made available to contact center, SOA solutions promote: that is Web Services-enabled, automati- executives throughout an organiza- cally gains SOA functionality. • New types of interactions with tion. However, the time between customers: A contact center solution the events and the reporting is at The ROI comes from the solutions that supports third-party contact types minimum days and more typically that can be built once the enablers are via Web Services allows a company weeks. Web Services-enabled contact in place. Let’s take the example of the to create and trial new capabilities center reporting makes not only agent that can’t answer the question in days, not the weeks or months historical but even real-time data about why a freight handler’s driver has necessary using earlier approaches. available to executives as quickly as it not arrived as scheduled at a customer For example, in some markets and is available in the contact center. So, site. In the absence of information, global geographies, there is a need the problems of the merchandising some customers may cancel the pickup to support SMS or text interactions executive of a television home shop- and call a different freight company, with customers. This can be quickly ping network wasting on-air time resulting in lost revenue. Integrating addressed with a contact center solu- could be solved by a widget on his/her driver presence and location data into tion that allows customer-defined desktop that graphically depicts self- the agent’s information screen allows contact types to be queued, routed service and live calls into the contact the agent to inform the customer of the and reported on. More importantly, center in real-time. The executive driver’s estimated time of arrival, and if a contact center solution that can would be able to quickly make the not satisfactory to the customer, quickly add a new contact type so easily business decision to broadcast another locate and dispatch another driver. offers investment protection — the product if interactions declined capability to handle application- precipitously. Impacts on corporate culture based social networking or collabora- tion interactions that have not even What kind of return on investment What orchestration between IT been invented using the same open (ROI) can the company expect and the contact center needs to interfaces. from Web Services-enabling the be considered before deciding to contact center? implement a Web Services-enabled • Greater administrative productivity: contact center solution? In the contact center, perhaps more While a question often asked, the than in any other department in answer may surprise you. Implementing Once you open a dialog with your the company, agent turnover causes a contact center solution designed to information technology department, a significant administrative burden integrate with other SOA and Web you’ll likely find that a set of policies — the entering and re-entering of Services assets in the organization does and procedures around SOA is already employee data into multiple databases not in and of itself have a return on in place. Adoption of SOA and Web and applications. A contact center investment. In the same way that the Services has been growing steadily solution that supports user provi- cost of nuts and bolts is not seen as over the past few years. You may find sioning via a Web Service interface delivering a specific percentage of a that the company is using an applica- tion infrastructure platform for SOA 3
  4. 4. projects, the most widely-known being incremental approach to connecting Web Services-enabled contact center? IBM WebSphere and Oracle Fusion the disparate systems, data stores and The ordered phone would still be out Middleware. With that being said, processes is possible. Essentially, SOA of stock. But instead of waiting for an the whole objective of SOA and Web provides a virtual platform to allow the unhappy customer to call, the out-of- Services is easy interoperability. The capabilities and information available in stock condition identified by a Web result is that there are no “requirements” any system available to any other. Services-enabled shipping system trig- that a Web Services-enabled applica- gers the creation of an outbound call to With a Web Services-enabled contact tion must meet and no compatibility the customer. The customer is given the center, the data and processes of the that must be checked before a purchase choice of waiting for the out-of-stock contact center become available for decision. item or choosing another phone. broader use in the company. Coupling Now that market-leading contact center contact center processes and data with In more general terms, exception solutions, such as Nortel’s Contact other SOA-based applications that handling is one of the key benefits to Center, provide Web Services interfaces have already been deployed will allow Web-enabling the contact center. It is to their applications, customer service the company as a whole to add an often when a decision is required — management should meet with IT to important knowledge and awareness perhaps by a manager to override a open a dialog. From the contact center of customer service to the tactics and policy or, as in this case, by a customer side, IT should understand the data and strategies of multiple departments. to choose an alternative product — processes now available as services from More than has been possible before, the that processes can break down and the contact center application that can contact center can both contribute and the customer experience may suffer. be useful in meeting the communica- benefit from process simplification and Communications-enabling processes, tion and information needs of other data sharing. in this case creating an outbound call groups and departments. In turn, IT to the customer, decreases the poten- can provide information to contact Customer service tial for easily communicated issues center managers about the types of SOA implications to become more significant customer applications that have already been service problems. deployed that might be expanded upon How does a Web Services-enabled and enriched by access to contact center contact center solution allow an Marketing has already started information and processes. organization to create a better using Twitter as a way to reach customer experience? out to both existing and potential Are there impacts on other depart- An agent at a mobile carrier handles a customers. If the company decides to ments beyond information tech- phone call from a customer requesting start interacting with customers over nology and customer service with the addition of a family member to their Twitter, can Web Services capabili- deployment of a Web Services- family plan. Typically this is a straight- ties in the contact center help? enabled contact center solution? forward process that results in the new Many companies are investigating how In today’s environment of dwindling mobile phone being shipped within Twitter or Facebook can be leveraged resources and the need for improved a reasonable amount of time — for to offer new customer-centric service efficiencies, SOA offers a flexible and this example we’ll say 48 hours. Now options or as an innovative channel for interoperable framework to meet the imagine that the phone that was ordered sales and marketing messages. Once a organization’s application and data is actually out of stock and not due for contact center solution has opened its requirements without the inefficient, another two weeks. One week after the application to allow for definition of costly and limited performance of initial order, the customer calls back, third-party interaction types, it would prior generations of technologies. For somewhat irate, to investigate. Multiple be a relatively simple task to set-up years, point solutions created within calls and considerable time and effort by and begin routing tweets or Facebook individual lines-of-business worked to the agent result in a frustrated customer statuses for handling by an agent. a degree, but they didn’t interoperate. finding out that they must continue to And, just as the contact center can route Systems, data and processes became wait if they want to receive the phone. these calls to specific agents or groups silos within a corporation. With a based on skills and preferences, an What would happen differently in a SOA approach, a cost-effective and open queue capability allows newly- 4
  5. 5. defined types of interactions to make use of the same capabilities of the contact center software. Technical Issues A number of my company’s core applications are hosted on legacy mainframe computers, using code that was initially developed many “Get Account Balance” can go through Beginning the process the necessary mainframe process and years ago. Does Web Services- If my company wants to investigate return an account balance as a Web enabling the contact center need Web Services-enabling the contact Service that can be consumed by the to wait until these applications center, where should we begin? contact center routing engine. This are updated? could allow the routing of interactions By reading this paper, you have already In order for a SOA and Web Services based on real-time account balance — begun the process of understanding how approach to work, both legacy systems for example, the routing of interactions your company can benefit from imple- and new systems need to have the from customers with negative balances menting a contact center application that appropriate connectors implemented — to specific agents. exposes contact center features such as simply put, they need to be opened up. Web Services for integration into a SOA Service-oriented architecture was never Our company is debating whether environment. Talking to your IT team to meant to force a complete re-tooling to migrate to a SIP-based enter- understand how SOA and Web Services of a company’s hardware and software prise communications system. What are being deployed in the organization is architecture. SOA tools are available impact would that have on our an important first step — you’ll likely be that allow mainframe applications ability to deliver or extract data surprised at their willingness to engage and programs to be turned into Web from the contact center using with you to transition to this simpler Services that can be consumed by any Web Services? way to support the contact center and SOA application, and also makes it its IT needs. Just as legacy mainframe applications possible for mainframe applications to and data can deliver and receive data The next step is to document the specific consume SOA services. from communications-enabled appli- challenges faced by customers interacting The mainframe and the applications cations, in most cases a SOA-enabled with your contact center and how a Web that run on it can become an equal contact center solution will work with Services-enabled contact center appli- member of the overall SOA deploy- your existing phone system. cation might offer solutions for those ment. Once the mainframe data or challenges. To accomplish this, many While it is possible to communica- process is encapsulated as a SOA organizations find it useful to engage tions-enable applications regardless of service, the contact center application is with the consulting services organization technology, SIP offers an even broader protected from needing to know any of of a contact center application vendor. range of potential possibilities. Once the details of the underlying services. The services offered typically include SIP-based communications applica- tions have been deployed across the business evaluation and technology The need to integrate mainframe enterprise, the physical location of assessment to ensure that the use of Web applications with contact center opera- people becomes irrelevant to the ability Services in the contact center addresses tions is quite common. The banking, to access their real-time presence. your business objectives while improving healthcare, utility and finance indus- SIP-based presence can be used by the operational performance. tries continue to house a considerable proportion of their data in host systems. Web Services-enabled contact center Start with one thing; one type of repeated Using a contact center application that to decide whether an individual, such customer complaint, one process that can consume Web Services can speed as a subject matter expert, is available has unreasonably long completion times, the process of enabling integration of to accept an interaction or support the one queue that never meets its service that data with customer service trans- efforts of an agent assisting a customer. objective. Find the most repeated or the actions. For example, a service called most wasteful task and then find a way 5
  6. 6. to refine it or replace it. There is always IT assets to create communications- About the author something that can be improved and enabled applications and processes. a Web Services-enabled contact center Sheila McGee-Smith, the founder of To enable the Web Services application gives you a better set of tools to tackle McGee-Smith Analytics, is a leading development and trial process, Nortel communications industry analyst and the problems. has created a Developer Partner Portal. strategic consultant. With a practice When choosing a partner to help you The resources of the portal include focused on the contact center and integrate the contact center into the a version of Nortel’s contact center unified communications markets, broader SOA architecture of the orga- application hosted in the Amazon Ms. McGee-Smith works on a daily nization, it may make sense to start the Cloud. This gives developers and busi- basis with both solution providers conversation with your current vendor. ness partners a place to develop and test and enterprises to help them develop strategies to meet the escalating Contact center solution providers that applications. Another goal of the portal demands of today’s consumer and have opened their applications with is to provide a place where enterprises, business customers. Ms. McGee- Web Services, like Nortel, have built systems integrators and business part- Smith’s views on the communications professional services practices that are ners can share their applications and space can be found in her weekly experienced with combining contact successes. blog at center components and other corporate This custom white paper was funded by Nortel. In the United States: In Europe: Nortel Nortel 35 Davis Drive Maidenhead Office Park, Westacott Way Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 USA Maidenhead Berkshire SL6 3QH, UK Email: In Canada: Nortel In Asia: 195 The West Mall Nortel Toronto, Ontario M9C 5K1 Canada United Square 101 Thomson Road In Caribbean and Latin America: Singapore 307591 Nortel Phone: (65) 6287 2877 1500 Concorde Terrace Sunrise, FL 33323 USA Nortel is a recognized leader in delivering communications capabilities that make the promise of Business Made Simple a reality for our customers. Our next-generation technologies, for both service provider and enterprise networks, support multimedia and business-critical appli- cations. Nortel’s technologies are designed to help eliminate today’s barriers to efficiency, speed and performance by simplifying networks and connecting people to the information they need, when they need it. Nortel does business in more than 150 countries around the world. For more information, visit Nortel on the Web at For the latest Nortel news, visit For more information, contact your Nortel representative, or call 1-800-4 NORTEL or 1-800-466-7835 from anywhere in North America. Nortel, the Nortel logo, Nortel Business Made Simple and the Globemark are trademarks of Nortel Networks. All other trademarks are the property of their owners. Copyright © 2009 Nortel Networks. All rights reserved. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Nortel assumes no responsibility for any errors that may appear in this document. NN124212-100209 BUSINESS MADE SIMPLE