The Contact Center and Enterprise UC — Which is the Dog and Which is the Tail?

You’ve heard the phrase “the tail wagging the dog.” This usually means that something viewed as less significant is driving the behavior of something more significant. In this context, which should drive the purchase decision of a new communications system — the contact center technology or the business unified communications (UC) system?

A couple of clarifications…first, I say UC instead of IP PBX because nobody is still buying just an IP PBX any longer (at least nobody who would be reading this). Second, the question gains more relevance when the buyer is considering a single vendor -as prescribed by most analyst and consulting firms- who can deliver both like Interactive Intelligence, Avaya, or Cisco vs. having to source the two separately from companies like Genesys, Aspect,or InContact.

So what is the answer? Do you start with the contact center and add the UC functionality for the business users? Or do you start with the UC requirements and add the contact center functionality?

Fifteen years ago the answer was to start with the business telephony piece and buy the contact center as an “add-on.” Back then, the phone system was the center of the functionality telecom universe. Not so true today. Today, businesses recognize the importance of the customer experience – and the role of the contact center in that experience.

The contact center is more complex with a far-deeper application set. As well, the differences between contact center vendor’s offerings can be dramatic. Ultimately, the contact center has the potential of having a bigger, more positive impact on the business.

I’m not sure which is the dog and which is the tail. However, starting with the contact center and adding the UC functionality from that same vendor will create an increased focus right where it should be for you – on the customer!

Joe Staples — chief believer in the value of a great customer experience