VISIT LIBRARY SPONSOR A BOOK HOW IT WORKS NEWSLETTER FEEDBACK
Unified Communications
Unified Communications

The Shortcut Guide to Improving Government Services Through Unified Communications

by Ken Camp

SYNOPSIS

The Shortcut Guide to Improving Government Services Through Unified Communications focuses on four facets of unified communications technologies in terms of the value and impact each brings to government services at the local, state, and federal levels. This informative new book reviews how self-service applications can improve customer satisfaction, increase revenue, decrease costs, and enable resource sharing across government agencies. It uncovers the value in teleworking programs and technologies. It explores contact center solutions to improve communications both internally and with citizens. And lastly, this book addresses how government officials and organizations are using emerging social media networking tools to provide enhanced services to citizens.


CHAPTER PREVIEWS

Chapter 1: How Self-Service Applications Help You Do More with Less

This guide will address the trends, values, and impacts of communications technologies on the business of government service at the local, state, and federal levels. Although all levels of government share similarities in dealing with services provided to citizens, each level faces unique challenges based on size, scope, budget, and population. For example, the challenge of local government in a rural area is quite different than that of a large federal agency.

Government budgets are experiencing some of the tightest constraints in history. Although budgets are shrinking and the focus on fiscal responsibility is at the top of mind for all government officials, the demand for citizen services is at an all time high. In the past, citizen services were provided by increasing the size of a serving agency. Staff numbers were increased to support rising demand. The dilemma is that human resources - the staff - are often the single largest operating expense any organization will bear. The solutions of the past, while they may be tried and true, have been rendered useless without the funding levels required. Government agencies require other mechanisms to do more with less.

In order to do more with less, we’ll draw on a lesson best demonstrated by the retail industry-self-service. With the growth of what’s most often called the "big box" store, we’ve seen another trend unfold over the past several years. At many of these stores, consumers head to the self-service checkout line. For many, it’s faster and easier. We scan our own items and bag our own purchases. The retailer has provided a checkout lane and the tools we need to handle our own transactions, in most cases without the assistance of a store employee. The retail industry has learned—and proven—that self-service allows for smaller staff. It reduces expenses, passing the savings along to the customer. It gives them the power to do more with less. It’s more profitable and more efficient. Government can look to the retail industry as an example.

In the first chapter of this eBook, you will learn how self-service applications can be deployed to meet the needs of a call center or contact center. You will gain an understanding of how bringing together applications and systems from multiple vendors and delivering results across multiple media, modes, and networks, the self-service approach leverages open standards-based platforms to help automate customer care. And lastly, you will discover how unified communications tools provide the integration of voice and data services that cross the hurdle of doing more with less.


Chapter 2: Using Teleworking for a Greener, More Efficient Government

In this chapter, we'll review some of the trends and business process changes that are driving the implementation of teleworking solutions in the government sector. Three specific areas of interest are noteworthy:

  • Shrinking budgets
  • Growth and acceptance of teleworking
  • Environmental considerations

Government budgets are shrinking. Attention to fiscal responsibility is high. Accountability for investment is on the minds of everyone. The business case for telework is, first and foremost, a case for controlling operating expense and increasing productivity. Teleworking has steadily grown as a popular business tool over the past 20 years. The business case for teleworking is well known and widespread. We’ll review some areas of government wherein teleworking makes very specific sense as a tool for managing both the budget and the workforce.

Greenhouse gasses and the shrinking ozone layer have driven leaders everywhere to consider how to lower the impact we have on the planet. Implementing a telework program presents an opportunity for federal, state, and local agencies to reduce their carbon footprint and take a "green" approach to government business.

The passing of Public Law 107-347 in December of 2002 placed e-Government strategies at the top of government agencies' tactical and strategic plans. Since that time, networking and telecommunications technologies have advanced quickly, mobile devices are abundant, and Wireless has created new ways of working.


Chapter 3: Distributing Contact Centers for Better Service and Cost Savings

Contact centers, or call centers, have been the foundation of many services in both the private and public sectors. Once deployed as large buildings with hundreds of customer service agents, they've moved from expensive city real estate, to the corn belt of America, to offshore. Government agencies are precluded from spending taxpayer dollars for low-cost labor in other countries, but unified communications technologies have presented a more efficient and cost-effective solution. With today's telecommunications tools, a diverse workforce spread around a city, county, state, or farther can be easily integrated into a single call center.

The call center of the past is changing. Today, the organization is the comprehensive contact center. When a front-line agent takes a call and needs assistance from a subject matter expert (SME), the entire agency is part of the response team. First call resolution is widely recognized as both the best customer service and the most cost-effective resolution. Enabling an agency or enterprise-wide contact center through unified communications tools makes first call resolution a reality.


Chapter 4: Emerging Technologies for a More Transparent, Connected Government

Unified communications technologies have expanded to include a vast array of tools. As these tools are introduced, often as free Web-based services, government agencies investigate how to integrate them into agency operations. Government agencies embrace this commitment at the highest levels. Prior to his election, Barack Obama made his commitment to digital technologies clear (see http://www.barackobama.com/ and http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/technology/Fact_Sheet_Innovation_and_Technology.pdf):

Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let's set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let's recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let's make college more affordable, and let's invest in scientific research, and let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America.

This chapter will discuss how the array of tools in the emerging social media sector within unified communications can benefit government from elected officials to city, state, and federal agencies. Integrating communications tools from video to audio to instant messaging (IM) to social media into the workflow of government operations and delivery of services strengthens the bond between government entities and the citizens they support.