Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
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Beth Schultz | March 30, 2017 |


How You (and Your UC Management Tools) Can Get Smarter

How You (and Your UC Management Tools) Can Get Smarter

As an enterprise communications and collaboration manager, you can't help but to think about bots these days. Bots, such as the @meet scheduling bot Google's Scott Johnston, director of real-time communications in G Suite, demoed yesterday morning during his Enterprise Connect keynote, are increasingly finding a role in automating workaday tasks and snippets of conversations among employees joined in virtual team workspaces and between contact center agents and customers.

Among the more unusual use cases for bots I've come across at Enterprise Connect is one relating to UC management, a common pain point for any good-sized enterprise organization. The bot, from Voss Solutions, provides the ability for nontechnical users to interact with Voss's UC management tool, Voss-4-UC, for IT-related tasks such as onboarding new employees, removing former employers, or opening change requests.

Introduced on Tuesday at Enterprise Connect, VossBot uses natural language processing to let users do complicated UC management tasks without 1) knowing how to do so, and 2) breaking things, said Christopher Martini, VP, Skype for Business, Voss.

For example, during the hiring process all an authorized HR manager would need to do is drag the VossBot into a team workspace and say, "Hey VossBot, we have a new employee starting on Monday." If you have the authorization to onboard employees, the bot would start with asking simple questions about the user -- role, location, and so on. Once the bot has collected enough information, it talks to the UC management software to trigger automated provisioning.

"VossBot takes care of requests without IT's phone ever ringing," Martini said.

Voss leverages specialized APIs for VossBot, which it built on the Microsoft Bot Framework. Via the framework, Bot Connector Voss will be able to connect its bot into a variety of channels, from email to text messaging, and team workspaces. "Every single piece of information that our products can touch we can manipulate through the bot," he said.

In thinking about whether VossBot might be useful for your organization, Martini recommended identifying pain points -- "what stinks for me that this could fix."

For IT itself, VossBot could come in handy for finding stats on server or network utilization, or "any of the stuff you'd traditionally open a dashboard to manage," Martini said. With Voss-4-UC, all you'd have to do is type the request to the bot rather than opening the dashboard. "Would you do that on your desktop? Maybe not. But would you do it on a mobile phone through IM? Maybe."

Bots and artificial intelligence are among the topics up for discussion during the Thursday 10:15 a.m. session, "Trends in Systems Management: How You (and Your Tools) Can Get Smarter." I'll be co-moderating the session along with Phil Edholm, president and principal with PK Consulting, and Martini will be among our panelists. Joining him from the UC management vendor community will be John Dunne, chief solutions officer with IR; Ray Krug, solutions architect with Netscout; Hendrik Scholz, senior product manager Oracle, and Phil Moen, president and CEO, Unimax. If you're still in town and wondering what's next in UC management, join us!

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