Harnessing Communications Network Data Can Supercharge Your Business Featured

Harnessing Communications Network Data Can Supercharge Your Business Image Credit: Elnur/Bigstockphoto.com

We are operating in a data-driven world where leveraging the insights from a growing pool of sources is helping improve business processes, reduce costs and improve customer experiences and expectations. Although we’re used to seeing basic data available from telecommunications and unified communications (UC) systems, such as network traffic and quality, there is so much more that can be done with some added visibility into the network if you know where to look.

It took a while for the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to take over the enterprise displacing traditional TDM telco systems. This dramatic uptick means an ever-growing number of businesses will have the ability to tap into data in ways they may never have been imagined.

You can build systems internally that tie in all the various data points, but today’s modern service providers set themselves apart from the competition by having all this data available from one source. In fact, many have additional value-added reporting, analytics and workflows that will help your data work harder for you, and not make you work hard for the data.

Let’s explore three considerations to keep in mind for businesses looking to tap into this rich vein of network data insights.

Data drives insight

Before VoIP, the amount of data available and the ability to monitor overall call quality was limited. You were charged for an extension and long-distance minutes. Thanks to the digital voice era brought on by session initiation protocol (SIP), voice is now another digital asset, and this leads to an abundance of data that can be ingested into other systems, and analyzed and monitored to improve overall processes.

No matter if you’re a five-person marketing team or a 500-person contact center, having additional visibility into the network can improve overall processes. For larger teams in contact centers or multiple teams across a variety of business units in an enterprise, the insights gained are from call completion statistics, average hold times, audio quality via mean opinion scores (MOS) and more. These data insights can be analyzed across geographic areas, business units and even down to specific employees. This can help improve overall efficiency and effectiveness and improve customer experience (CX).

For small business teams, ensuring call quality from network insights is typically something monitored by carriers or service providers, but this doesn’t mean you should be locked out of the insights from data. Data can be used to augment business processes such as by adding additional phone numbers or capacity on the fly to meet peak demands, whether this is due to fast growth or to handle an uptick in call volume due to market or seasonal impacts.

Work with your service provider to better understand what data they have available and what you’re hoping to accomplish. They may have several ideas of what data you may have and how best to leverage it for your specific industry.

Transparency is a two-way street

Real-time traffic visibility improves both the quality of service delivered to customers and allows companies to better manage their communication service providers. Transparency also ensures communications are kept secure and follow compliance guidelines where necessary.

For example, a group of medical practitioners sharing resources or a large law firm with offices around the country will have specific needs. The former needs to ensure calls are compliant and patient information is secured and meets HIPAA compliance while the latter has to ensure that the time spent on client calls can easily be tracked and monitored.

Contact centers and other outbound business operations are held to stringent standards with regulations like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricting telemarketing communications via voice calls and text messages. If a complaint is lobbied against a business, having a data trail can help verify compliance.

Thanks to digital transformation we are also in an era of communications - whether in voice, text or other electronic forms, where terabytes of information is now being stored or analyzed, bringing in the question of ownership of all that data. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implemented in 2018 and the California Consumer Privacy Act that will be enforced in January 2020 give consumers the right to transparency and control over the collection of personal information. Having clear controls over how this data is collected, stored, reviewed and utilized is essential to meet compliance.

Again, service providers should have all this information streamlined and available in a way that works best for you, particularly when approaching through the lens of compliance. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask if you aren’t certain what data streams are available, but most partners will want to help you solve your business challenges and steer you in the right direction.

Flexibility is essential

To be able to realize the full potential of your network data, the flexibility to access the data how and when you need it is vital. Access to both pre-built reports and ad hoc analytics is essential for everything from workforce management, providing CX over and above competitors to personalization in today’s data-driven world. Enterprises should look for these services to set themselves apart. The data aggregation should be done at the service provider level and delivered to you in the format that works best for you.  

Traditionally telecommunications may have been handled by various departments in a carrier. For example, if a report was needed it would involve having to collect information from various areas within the carrier, before being delivered to the customer. In today’s real-time world, this can make or break a business. Working with a provider that gives you access to on-demand reports, when you need them provides you the flexibility to literally have the information at your fingertips.

Additionally, with application programming interfaces (APIs), data can easily be ingested into other platforms to improve business processes. For example, data can be imported from a contact center directly into a workforce management platform. By exploring average call volume, hold times and other data, staffing needs can be met in advance of peak times by predicting when and where more resources are needed. Network data and call recordings can also be leveraged for machine learning and other automated analytics, to provide additional insights to improve business operations.

One other area where data flexibility comes into play is with the ability to text-enable any phone number leading to the growth of 10DLC or “10-digit long codes” as a marketing and communications vehicle compared to your traditional short code messages. By being able to monitor and gain insights you can understand response rates, frequency, as well as analyze text data to understand customer satisfaction, resolution of issues, etc. Plus, this data can be used to ensure compliance is met.

As you can see, creating network transparency not only helps to provide better services, but it can help enterprises hold their providers accountable, thereby creating better overall experiences for both their work and their end-users. And let’s not underestimate the power of transparency for quickly clearing up network issues or meeting compliance needs either. Find a service provider that will work with you to help you find the data and make it work for you. There is no sense in doing double the work; leverage the tools they have in place already. The good ones will provide all the resources you need and act as an extension of your team.

Joe is the CTO and has been with Brightlink since its inception in 2009. Joe built the original Brightlink network, and is responsible for sales engineering, network engineering, information technology and product development. Prior to Brightlink, Joe spent 10 years in lead technology roles, including Commvault, CTS/Agilysis and Troutman Sanders. 

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