Sunday, June 23, 2013

What do 2Ring GADGETS bring to Cisco Finesse?

Cisco Finesse is the future (Express) and present (Enterprise) of agent/supervisor desktops for Cisco Contact Centers. Cisco is still offering Cisco Agent Desktop (CAD) and the CTI-OS Toolkit option, but 4 out of 10 new Packaged UCCE/UCCE projects already include Cisco Finesse (Cisco, May 2013) and Cisco Agent Desktop has already been scratched from the Packaged UCCE offering..

Cisco Finesse, as a completely web-based/server solution, is much more user and admin likable than the other two, but to really understand what it is capable of, you need to use 3rd party gadgets. Only then is the potential of the platform fully exploited.

2Ring GADGETS for Cisco Finesse is one of the major 3rd party offerings out there and is viewed by many @CiscoCCpartners as a must-have piece for their Contact Center projects. The set of features it provides in combination with the pricing model make it simply a "no brainer" offering.

2Ring GADGETS come in two bundles - STANDARD and ENHANCED.

So, what does the STANDARD bundle offer?

As the length of the description below suggests, a lot. ;)

This invisible core of the power pack provides for easy configuration of workflows, something that can be described as an event-rules-action model. The list of supported events in the contact center and the full list of supported actions can be found in this presentation (slides 8-9), but to keep it simple, we are able to listen to just about any call- or agent-related event and perform multiple actions that, for example, result in the agent having the caller's contact card open in the 2Ring BROWSER gadget on the call's arrival. The options are unlimited, and if you think that some event or action is missing, please let us know below in the discussion.

2. 2Ring infoPANEL

2Ring infoPANEL is usually configured as a persistent gadget so it stays with the agent/ supervisor no matter which tab within Cisco Finesse s/he is on. This is very crucial since the gadgets serve to notify agents about various events and include a message ticker – a text area to which a supervisor is able to send messages when needed. It is usually configured to be displayed on top of Cisco Finesse, right under the Cisco Finesse tabs.

The gadget itself is divided into four areas (and we plan on adding two more, so follow this blog to know about them before anybody else does):

  • On the top right, the agent sees his current state and time in state. This is very handy since the supervisor/admin is able to set unique thresholds for every state - so for example, if an agent goes NotReady with a reason code - CoffeeBreak, a 15-minute countdown can start. The state and time can start in black, then turn to orange once there is 5 minutes left, and if there is less than 2 minutes left in the agent's break, red can be used. Simply, colors and time limits are just a matter of configuration. 
  • The top left area contains little icon/picture notifications. We see this used in multiple ways, but most often to show a language flag (which language the agent should speak), Skype trunk notification (if a call is secure or not), type of customer calling (VIP or not), and also whether the calling customer has been added to any outbound campaign in progress. Again, these are just examples, and the area is configurable, and thus completely under the supervisor's/admin's control.
  • The top center is reserved for messages. They can arrive in two ways - first, a supervisor, using the 2Ring TEAM gadget, is able send a text that is displayed there, (more about that later); second, our orchestrator is able to display messages related to the call, e.g. "This is a Skype call -> not a secure channel -> do not provide/request any sensitive information." And the plan is to provide partners with an API that will allow them to integrate the entire infoPANEL with other systems that will be able to send other information that can help an agent on a call (e.g., the voice-biometrics score of the caller) or to display a notification icon telling an agent that an event in a different system has occurred and s/he might want to check it out. 
  • The bottom of the gadget, or the second row, is reserved for configurable buttons. These can serve as basic bookmarks, send a signal to do something in the background (e.g., mark the caller's phone number as default), log something into a database (e.g., the agent's request for the call to be evaluated by his supervisor), or provide one-click-forward of the current call to IVR (so the customer can do a customer satisfaction survey, authenticate himself, or enroll in a voice biometric authentication - to create his/her voice footprint). Again, the buttons are a matter of configuration, and like every gadget in Cisco Finesse, they can be team dependent so that every team can have a different set of buttons available/visible.

3. 2Ring BROWSER

I loved it when one partner asked me, "Do you mean that this allows you to have multiple tabs in a gadget that is hosted in one of the tabs of Cisco Finesse within one of the tabs of my browser?" I just said, "Yes, absolutely." Think about it. You want the agents to focus on the caller and on the navigation among multiple windows, or on scrolling down among multiple gadgets. The easiest way for agents to navigate is the use of a multi-tab browser that allows you to host multiple web-based applications in one gadget. This makes the user interface of Cisco Finesse much neater and easier to use.

The tabs are colorable, which makes it even easier for the agent to navigate - "my CRM is under the green tab" - no need to read the tab names.

4. 2Ring TEAM

This gadget is a collaboration centerpiece, and here are the main items:

  • A team-based list of all agents and their current states (supervisors can also see the time in state and not ready reason codes)
  • A skill-group (queue) based list of all agents and their current states (supervisors can also see the time in state and not ready reason codes)
  • Agent search - if you know the name of the agent that you want to talk to
  • List of parties involved in a current call.
  • An agent profile including the agent's picture, skillgroup memberships, team, extension, etc. All this data except the pictures is taken from the Cisco Finesse server. The profile also includes call, consult call, set ready, and silent monitoring buttons (availability depends on the role of the logged in user)
  • Option to launch a Cisco Jabber Client based chat with a particular agent/supervisor from his/her profile.
  • Agent2agent and Supervisors2agent chat (if you are not in a 2Ring TEAM tab, a little bubble in 2Ring infoPANEL will notify you that someone wants to chat with you)
  • A message sender that allows supervisors to write a short text message or use a template message and send it to any group of agents. The message will then be displayed in 2Ring infoPANEL, and the supervisor can set its expiration time.

The plan is to make it easy to extend agent profiles to include agent-based statistics, so agents know how they are doing and also to let supervisors learn from the profiles whether agents need a little bit of coaching or not.

5. 2Ring COMPACT AGENT FOR Cisco Jabber

This solution delivers agent state and call control to the familiar interface of Cisco Jabber for Windows. This is very suitable for those who are only occasional/part-time contact center agents. For these users, it doesn't make sense to learn to use a new application - Cisco Finesse. Instead, it is more beneficial if they can work with a user interface that they are probably already familiar with - Cisco Jabber Client:

  • Subject Matter Experts: Experts manage contact center state (ready, not ready, ..) inside of Cisco Jabber Client (independent from the Jabber presence status), and so your agents see experts' state within 2Ring TEAM gadget and thus can talk to or even "forward" calls to any of these experts in a time of need. The experts receive caller information in the same way as agents in a contact center. You can watch it in this 3-minute video
  • Ad-Hoc Agents: When call volumes get higher than anticipated, ask back office workers or staff in your store to log in to the Contact Center via their Cisco Jabber client and have calls immediately routed to them. The most flexible workforce is your own workforce.
Before I write the blog about the ENHANCED bundle of 2Ring GADGETS for Cisco Finesse, feel free to let me know if Cisco Finesse and/or even our GADGETS look appealing to you, or if you are already using it, what other features you would like us to bring to this new platform. And of course, if you are in Orlando this week, then please come to 2Ring's booth #1433 - here is my blog on why you should do so. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Michal, @MichalGrebac

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ready for #CLUS - Visit, Learn (for sure), and Win (maybe)

Our plan for the next week? Tom and I are attending #CLUS in Orlando to tell you about our 2Ring GADGETS for Cisco Finesse and also about 2Ring PHONE SERVICES. So, if you have something to do (use, sell, deploy) with voice, collaboration, unified communications, or contact centers (Enterprise or Express), then come check us out in the World of Solutions - booth #1433. Both of these packages are feature full and worth your time, so come and check it all out. 

If you let us scan your badge, you will also have a chance to win one of two brand new MS Surface PRO tablets / notebooks (I have been using one of these for the past 3 months as my primary device and believe me, if you are a Windows person, then you will love this device too):

You should also come if you want to learn more about Cisco Finesse - we will be happy to give you a tour using our lab running Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise 9.1.1.

Before World of Solutions opens, we will be attending the Cisco Developer Network Forum that starts on Sunday at 8:30 AM and runs until Monday afternoon. It is a great event for 3rd party developers, ISVs, to learn what's new with Cisco, not only from the technical perspective (new releases, new products, changes to API, .. ), but also from the business side. This year the forum should have the most attendees in its history, and so I am sure that it will be a great place to network with other CDN partners and discuss potential collaborations. 

We are looking forward to seeing you there and having fun along the way. If you are a runner, then you should consider joining the 2nd Annual Unofficial CLUS Charity 5K that is happening on Wednesday at 8AM. I will be there for sure.

Michal, @MichalGrebac

PS: Almost forgot to mention that at our booth, you can also pick up one of these 4GB USB sticks (big enough for a virtual machine). They come pre-loaded with data sheets, presentations, and videos about 2Ring and our solutions. Come early, before we run out of them like we did last year ;)


PS2: Oh, and one more note, to increase your chances of winning one of the Surface tablets / notebooks, you should also follow us on Twitter - @2Ring4UC since one of the winners will be drawn from our followers at the time of the drawing.

PS3: My plan for the flight from Sacramento to Orlando is to write a product blog about our GADGETS for Cisco Finesse, will I really do it? Come here next week and see :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Acquiescently, I have to admit that the Cisco Partner Summit 2013 was spectacular. #Ciscops13 absolutely surpassed all of my expectations. I have been following sessions virtually which was quite staggering. Unfortunately, some of the sessions weren’t broadcasted, but luckily some of the fellow attendees were tweeting their insight even from these sessions and shared their thoughts via Twitter.
I believe that the strongest message of #ciscops13 was sent on the first day by the Cisco CEO John Chambers who said: “We partner for life, we are old fashioned that way!” From his keynote speech you could feel his full commitment to all of the Cisco partners. The power of networking and cooperation is incredible.
Wholeheartedly, I have to admit that all of the sessions that I got to follow were exceptional. Extraordinary speech by John Foley was powerful, dynamic and filled with emotions. To hear him speak with such a passion was very rewarding. His truly high performance in action can get you up from your seat and start yelling: “You go, John!” John Foley is a member of Blue Angles and Stanford Business School graduate. As he said: I used to fly at speeds of more than 500 miles per hour and in formations as close as 18 inches from his teammates – I had to improve my performance by 300 percent! #gladtobere
Nick Adamo, Senior Vice President Cisco for Americas sent a great message to all of the partners when he said: “We live in a time of unprecedented change, but together we will win!” #favequote
Throughout the entire #Ciscops13 main concepts that absolutely resembled were: cooperation, networking, success and great commitment from all of the Cisco leaders to all of the partners.  
2Ring team is looking forward to the next year’s Cisco partner summit which will take place in the Sin City.  We would like to say big Thank You to Chad Berndtson for organizing social media ambassadors program this year.  It was a great ride and we hope to see everyone next year at #ciscops14

Key words: Cisco Partner Summit Boston, #Ciscops13, Partners, Cooperation

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

John Chambers - Keynote at #Ciscops13

John Chambers truly provided insight to Cisco’s strategy and I was impressed by the determination,Cisco’s drive and innovation to become Nr. 1. What I Iiked most was the fact Edison Peres mentioned the Cisco Developer Network (CDN), but this was near the end of the keynote

During the first 1st hour or so, both Bruce Klein and John Chambers often referred to the Cisco “family” focusing on 1 and 2 Tier which is how I and many others view the Cisco culture as a “family.” This said, I invision the Cisco family consists of corporate as the parent or gardian with it’s employees it’s immediate family. I also imagine the 1 and 2 Tier as siblings to Cisco creating business opportunities with the support of their nephews and nieces. 

As part of the family, 3rd Party Partners are the 2nd cousin. Just like Oliver in the Brady Brunch, we are sometimes left out of the family photo, but in fact we provide complementary, innovative solutions that enhance, strengthen Cisco’s vision of becoming Nr.1. It’s evident that Cisco understands the importance of 3rd Party Partners considering the CDN investment and FY13 acquisitions, but why aren’t we sitting at the dinner table with rest of the family? ;)

Donald Seybold for 2Ring - Follow me -  

#Ciscops13 - Internet of everything & Internet of things

I am not sure where to start. Let’s say I am still dazzled by the keynote speech given by John Chambers. (CEO, Cisco).
To hear him talk with such a passion about Cisco and its partners was truly amazing; he was “on fire” as some of the fellow partner attendees would say. All the great insights he provided us with were mind-blowing. John believes that Cisco with the correct partnership cooperation can soon become the number one IT company in the world. Some of the attendees said that John addressed competitors rather directly this year. I can’t honestly say from my experience since it is my first time attending Cisco partner summit, but I loved it.
Internet of everything.
Jim Grubb (VP, Emerging technologies marketing, Cisco) presented a great example of connecting the preciously unconnected. Connecting farming to the internet example was a spot on! Jim explained all the advantages that $0.99 IOE chip IPv6/Wi-Fi can bring to the farming. Cola example was stunning! Customer will be able to track where exactly the corn was grown, in what refinery it was processed to starch and where it was added to your soft drink that you are holding in your hand. Simply by scanning the bar code of your soda! It was just a beginning of great day at #ciscops13.
Internet of things.

Wendy Bahr (SVP, Americas at Cisco Systems) took a stage in the afternoon at the Geo Americas session. Wendy used brilliant example of San Francisco parking app called SFPark, which is cloud based – integrated with gps and lets you find a parking spot in the San Francisco. Finding a parking spot in the big cities can be rather terrifying as many of you know. This is a great way how to connect mortar and brick environment with the internet.
In the first day I have connected virtually via Twitter with many of you, and would like to say thank you for connecting. As Nick Adamo said yesterday “We live in a time of unprecedented change! But together we will win!” Hope to see everyone again today #gladtobehere

Follow me @MMBarat and @2Ring4UC

What You Should Know about 2Ring IPPS 6.3.1 by Jiri Princ from 2Ring’s Product Team

2Ring PHONE SERVICES is currently running in version 6.3.1.  Most of our customers are primarily interested in the core features of our latest update, which are – Caller Identification, Voice and Text Paging & Directories. However, I am not going to discuss these features here.

Let’s step aside and look at the 2Ring SERVICES from different angle (yes, I have omitted the word “PHONE” deliberately).

First, I would like to reveal our concept of Monitoring. It all started with the new CLID feature. While discussing how to make CLID even “cooler,” we have realized that if we save the calls monitored by CLID, it could bring us a new exciting feature. After thinking it through, we came up with our first ideas how to help companies which are using  Cisco or Avaya IP Telephony in a completely different way than we have originally intended, via basic Call Reports and Notifications.

The next step was a "proof of the concept" that involved creating a call history for users. This filled several niches like creating contacts directly from the phone, supplying a lasting call history (missed, placed, received calls) for Cisco Extension Mobility, and the main purpose of this PoC is adding a call history to the web portion of 2Ring PHONE SERVICES.

Based on the web call history, we have created a basic log report with quite robust filtering options. This makes it easier for our clients to find out what has happened in their VoIP environment. In case you need more sophisticated reporting system with information like ports/gateways or calculating price per call, then you should check out 2Ring CALL ACCOUNTING (link). Nevertheless, if you are only looking for basic features, then 2Ring PHONE SERVICES is suitable for you. It is easy to set up and ready to go.  Most of basic requests can be easily fulfilled - e.g. to list after working hours calls, just specify Time Interval (e.g. from 17:00 to 7:00) in the filter.

 We are very content about the result and truly proud of it. But, that isn’t all.   We have pushed ourselves even further and created something that even CUCM, IPO or our CALL ACCOUNTING does not provide. We filled another niche in the reporting area with a special report for active, ongoing calls. For example, at one of our 2Ring offices, we are using one of our production instances of CUCM for lab purposes as well (do not ask why :)). In other words, we enjoy playing with it a lot. In case we need to restart the system, just to make sure that no important calls are lost, we use our real-time report to check it out.

Now, thanks to 2Ring PHONE SERVICES 6.3, administrators have a full overview of past and current calls. Maybe our next challenge should be predicting future traffic, and thus prepare a future calls report ;)

Simply said, we keep tweaking, exploring and developing. Stay tuned for further updates!  

PS: Follow and talk to us on Twitter @2Ring4UC. @princatko  We only tweet good stuff. You won’t be disappointed!