Survey: communication problems cut productivity

MANILA (03/22/2004) - The lack of a reliable communication system could result in lower company productivity by delaying business transactions or causing poor customer servicing, according to a joint survey recently conducted by Alcatel SA and Research International.

The survey covered approximately 1,000 respondents from multinational corporations with more than 200 employees in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France.

The study indicated that 50 percent of the respondents use five or more communication devices such as mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) to ensure that they are reachable around-the-clock. Still, 39 percent miss at least five calls daily, most of which come from high-priority clients and customers.

The survey also suggested that 46 percent of the respondents tend to call someone whenever they need information rather than go through the task of checking data that is available. Yet 76 percent believe they do not have immediate access to contact information on people they need to reach urgently.

These scenarios, according to the study, have resulted in delays in numerous business transactions and, at the same time, lowered the quality level of the company's customer service.

The need to address this communication problem has prompted Alcatel to develop and introduce its new Unified Interaction Management (UIM) initiative which aims to deliver a suite of software products that will bring people and information together to improve business processes across any device, network, application and location in real-time.

"The UIM will bring the communication benefits and efficiency of contact center applications throughout the entire enterprise," said Alex Filocca, Alcatel marketing manager for Southeast Asia.

Alcatel's ASEAN director for Enterprise Solutions, BG Poon stressed that the UIM is a key strategy that is built on the success of Genesys and the recently launched Unified Communications (UC) suite.

Although the UIM strategy is gradually being developed and is expected to fully materialize in 2005, this year's UIM initiative is focused on software designed to attach data with a voice call and transfer it to any location across the enterprise.

Available applications such as My Messaging enables users to check their voice mail, e-mail and fax messages from a single location such as a PC or mobile phone.

MyPhone transforms the computer into a fully-featured telephone including all the benefits of computer-telephony integration. On the other hand, MyAssistant configures the office phone number to allow users to receive office calls wherever they may be. Another application, MyTeamwork, offers a set of collaborative work applications that facilitate conferencing in real time.

Alcatel claims that users of the applications have reported a 5 percent to 30 percent increase in company productivity.

Currently, the company is targeting to prioritize and make its services available primarily to its existing 500 local customers that include United Laboratories Inc. (Unilab), San Miguel Corporation, Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank).

When fully rolled out in 2005, the UIM is expected to be an independent platform based on open standards such as SIP, J2EE and .NET. It will be able to operate in TDM, IP-only, and dual network environments, allowing businesses to extend their current infrastructure investments and fully take advantage of IP benefits.

With sales of 12.5 billion euros (US$15.34 billion) in 2003 and operating in more than 130 countries worldwide, Alcatel currently claims a 10.3 percent market share and expects a 10 percent growth this year for its contact center solutions.

Focused on constantly developing its product solution suite, it allots 13 percent of its annual revenues solely to research and development (R&D).

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