Four Considerations for Enterprises Embedding Communications in Business Applications

By Allan MacGowan - Oct. 23, 2016

Over the last several years, business managers have started to realize the benefits of embedding communications capabilities directly into web pages, mobile apps, contact center applications or even CRM platforms, bringing advanced communications ever closer to the customer.

As a result, many have begun to build SDKs on emerging standards like WebRTC and many have also delivered development solutions designed to simplify and speed up this process.  For many enterprises, however, embedding communications in business applications is not a matter of a snap decision without understanding its potential ramifications.  According to Bruce Marler, the VP of Technical Sales at CafeX, even though solutions like CafeX Live Assist allows businesses to answer a few questions on a wizard and get code that allows them to within minutes configure and test voice calling, video chat or co-browse in their mobile and web apps within minutes, companies need to think through what this will mean to the customer, the technology team and the business users.

Four Areas of Focus for Businesses Extending Apps With Communications Capabilities

According to Marler, “There are potential ramifications to consider around how changes will impact existing applications and workflows, what deploying the application will mean to the development and IT team, what additional third-party applications and infrastructure will be impacted and, of course, security”.  When extending an existing contact center application to allow for co-browsing between the agent and the customer, companies need to consider four key areas as follows:

First.  Embedding Communications and Existing Business Apps

In many organizations, co-browsing capability may almost seem like a standalone app that can be called upon by customers and agents when necessary. But in large enterprises, things aren’t always that simple. “Remember, if you’re talking about a corporate customer service website supported by mobile apps you can have multiple teams working on the various aspects of that platform.  There may be multiple business applications integrated with the system already and multiple types of users - both internal and external - interacting with the software,” says Marler.  Thinking through the various touch points, which team members will interact with the system and which customers might get access to the co-browsing capability (e.g. is it only VIPs?) is critical.  

Additionally, enterprises need to ensure feature parity is maintained across all the various platforms users may take advantage of.  For example, if the product works great on the web, but provides a clunky experience on mobile, that may have ramifications for customers and agents that would require business processes to address up front.

Second. Complexity of Deploying the Application

For the tech team, it is all about minimizing friction.  They may want to deploy a proof of concept application with a small team, or roll out co-browsing quickly while assessing other deeper contact center integrations / extensions.  They may also likely want to be able to customize or personalize any extension so that it meets all corporate branding and functionality requirements.

According to Marler, a solution like CafeX’s does a lot of heavy lifting on the back end to ensure a communications application functions seamlessly, but the IT team is looking for the ability to customize it and easily access the appropriate code for their platforms.  “For the developers, it is important that the tool seems more like an application than just an SDK.  Being able to configure it like a fully functional application and have the SDK automatically generate the necessary code for all platforms provides the development team the confidence to execute on communications applications even if they haven’t had a lot of experience.”

Third. Embedding Communications and Existing Third Party Integrations

In  large enterprises, any discussion around integrating new technology is most likely always going to also involve discussions around  existing applications and infrastructure within the organization.  If you start talking about co-browsing, you’d better be ready to talk about Cisco, Avaya or Genesys - or maybe all three - and how that solution is built to integrate with multiple enterprise-grade applications.  

According to Marler, large enterprises have tens or hundreds of millions of dollars invested in existing technology infrastructure that needs to be taken into consideration.  “You can’t just add a ‘neat little feature’ to an application without thinking through how it has to perform across the business.”

Fourth. Security

When it comes to interacting with customers, it behooves enterprise to prioritize security considerations, especially around compliance (for example, if you’re co-browsing, you don’t want agents seeing financial information accidentally).  These issues need to be defined and addressed up front.  

Additionally, enterprises should consider solutions that take advantage of end-to-end encryption and protocols like Websockets for secure data transmission across firewalls and within the enterprise network.  “Security is priority one for every enterprise,” says Marler.  “Having a bulletproof solution that answers all their questions is critical.  With co-browsing, for example, if you can go beyond what companies are expecting by transmitting all shared data as transient, encrypted image data that are never stored locally, it takes away another layer of concern.”  

While businesses are starting to embed communications capabilities in existing web and business applications, for large enterprises, considering these four factors and understanding the potential ramifications are a critical exploratory first step.  To learn more, contact a CafeX expert today.