Friday, February 29, 2008

Google - part 2, yesterdays UC developments

This blog can't claim to have an inside line on Google, but I was slightly startled to read Google's Unified Communications announcement on Thursday after my post on Wednesday.

It was the timing rather than the content that surprised me. Headlined "Google releases free UC for the masses", it was actually the rather less exciting news that Google had moved their GrandCentral acquisition into beta. GrandCentral has an interesting set of capabilities around click to call from web sites and click to call from contacts books, and provides a single number for users for life which is usable for all devices. Google is not unique with these capabilities, other providers include Ribbit with Amphibian open platform (whose relevance to banking and their contact centres is discussed on Chris Skinner's Finextra blog), but Google's reach and scale makes their developments always worth observing. Interestingly, GrandCentral has not been integrated with Google Talk, their VoIP offering, though there may be a 'yet' needed in that statement.

Like so many Google developments, the target market is initially the individual user not the enterprise but I would not be surprised if it started to evolve into a small business offering.

The interesting thing is how this is relevant to the contact centre. There has been interest in ensuring contact centers can handle Skype but handling Google Talk should perhaps be as important a consideration. Similarly, a single lifetime number for users offers some interesting ideas about how you could use outbound to a manage relationship for such a user who would be nearly always reachable. Finally it also highlights that the pace of voice and web integration seems to be accelerating and organisations need to be able to adapt to that what ever that might require in future.

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