In my previous post I mentioned that the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta can help you create some pretty awesome user experiences for multi-modal online interactions.  Well, what does that really mean?  I’ve already covered the Contact Center scenario.  Now, let’s discuss a Peer to Peer scenario.

Your loyal customers, Savio and Hilary, always use your travel planning website to decide on itineraries and book travel.

Savio is away at IMPACT for a week.  This leaves Hilary alone with their two month old.  Erik, Savio’s wise friend suggests Savio take Hilary on a vacation as a “thanks for putting up with me and rearing our child while I travel”.  Hilary loves to be involved in vacation planning.  But Savio’s in Vegas and Hilary’s in Toronto (See P.S. below).  Savio IM’s Hilary and proposes the vacation idea.  She’s in.   Now the tough part.  Deciding where, which flight, hotel and car.  It’s made tougher by the fact that their multi-modal interaction is not linked in any way.

If Savio and Hilary continue the interaction over IM, they’re forced to send URLs back and forth to keep track of the itinerary item that the other person is looking at.  But then, they’d also have to type “flight #348 will get us in on time” and similar information into the IM application.  But switching over from IM to the phone is no better because they still have to describe which page each person is on, (spelling out a URL over the phone…FUN!?!?), and which flight they are looking at etc.  Savio and Hilary are in for a poor user interaction no matter how you slice it.

We designed the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta to address a scenario of two users trying to jointly make a decision through a multi-modal interaction.

Peer to Peer Cobrowsing
Let’s start the same scenario off with a Peer to Peer Cobrowsing Web Widget that is delivered in the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta.  Savio would click on the “Invitation Link” button on your website and IM it to Hilary.  Once Hilary clicks the link, Savio and Hilary would be in a shared session together. There’s not software for Savio or Hilary to install to enable this shared session.  In fact, Savio and Hilary have individual sessions with WebSphere Application Server, so there’s an added layer of security.  Calling this feature Peer to WebSphere Application Server to Peer, while perfectly okay with the IBM Naming Police, seemed cumbersome.  Ease of use and security? Check.

With this shared session both Savio & Hilary can take control and direct what is shown on the other person’s browser window.  Both can highlight elements on the page for the other person to see.  Vastly improved user experience? Check.

And of course, if either needs more information before deciding, they could use the Click to Call feature enabled by the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA and enter into a joint session with one of your customer service representatives.  I described this scenario before.

Want to learn more?
Get the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta here and the Getting Started guide, part of the Library materials, here. Also, here’s a good description of the widgets from Erik. Finally, if you need a copy of WAS V7, you can get a trial here.

Let us know what you think!

P.S.: Hilary and I planned our last trip sitting beside each other, with our individual laptops scouring Expedia for info. It was painful to keep track of the itinerary item that the other person was suggesting. So, while the scenario above describes two geographically separated users, I’m certain it’ll apply to two users sitting beside each other on a couch! What that says for our society is a different story ;-)

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

In my previous post I mentioned that the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta can help you create some pretty awesome user experiences for multi-modal online interactions.  Well, what does that really mean?  Let’s start with a common scenario.

While searching for a life insurance policy online a user might want to call a customer service representative (CSR) about discounts since her mortgage is held by the bank.  More often than naught, the CSR wants to point the user to more information on the bank’s website.  But here’s the dilemma.  The user and CSR are involved in a multi-modal interaction, but there’s no synchronization between the two modes of communication.  If the CSR wants to direct the user to a specific page on the site, he must tell the user “okay, go to the homepage, on the left navigation bar, click Other Offers and then scroll half way down the page, look for a link that says….” Agreed, that’s an ugly interaction.

When the user decides to purchase life insurance, the interaction is no prettier.  While the user and CSR are speaking on the phone and both have browser windows open, there is no linkage between the two modes of communication.  The user still has to speak certain information which the CSR must transcribe into the application form.  There’s no visual way for the user to verify that the CSR has transcribed the spoken information properly.  Try saying “Savio Rodrigues” and the person on the other end of the phone not transcribe “Fabio Rodriguez” or “Flavio Rodriguez” or “Sabio Rodriguez”.  Not cool.

We designed the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta to address a scenario in which a user and CSR are involved in a multi-modal interaction prior to the user making a decision.

Click to Call
Let’s consider the same scenario with a Click to Call Web Widget that you can embed in existing and new web applications.

Unlike third party hosted Click to Call offerings, the Click to Call feature in the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta can be completely integrated into your application.  No need to spawn another browser window or advertise your hosted provider’s service.  Integrated and consistent user experience? Check.

Next, our Web Widget is integrated with your telephony infrastructure (so far, Cisco & Nortel).  Why pay a third party Click to Call hosted provider per minute fees for calls when you can leverage your existing telephony infrastructure?  Lower costs and driving higher utilization of existing resources? Check.

Finally, any information that you want to share between the user and the CSR through the Click to Call session, such as login information or account numbers, does not have to go through a third party.  Increased privacy & security? Check.

Contact Center Cobrowsing
Okay, you added a Click to Call widget to your application, now what?  Well, your customer enters her phone number and clicks on “Connect”.  The result is a shared session between the user and the CSR (through WebSphere Application Server).  Oh, and there is no software for the user or CSR to install. Security and ease of use? Check.

With this shared session both the CSR and the user can take control and direct what is shown on the other person’s browser window.  Both can highlight elements on the page for the other person to see.  No more having to say “scroll half way down the page and look for the link to the right of the picture of a monkey”.  Improved user experience? Check.

Two Way Forms
Next up, the dreaded filling out of forms over the phone.  But have no fear. Since you have a shared session between the user and CSR, there’s no reason that the form can’t be displayed to both parties.  But why stop there?  The Two Way Forms feature of the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta lets both parties enter data into various elements of the form.  You can even restrict the data shown in a form field between the CSR and user.  For example, the user could type in and see their full credit card or social security number, while the CSR would only see the last 3 digits.  The user can even click to confirm that individual form field data was transcribed correctly by the CSR. Fewer frustrated users? Check.

Want to learn more?
Get the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta here and the Getting Started guide, part of the Library materials, here.  Also, here’s a good description of the widgets from Erik.  Finally, if you need a copy of WAS V7, you can get a trial here.

Let us know what you think!

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

As Erik posted on Friday, the IBM WebSphere Application Server V7.0 Feature Pack for Communications Enabled Applications Beta (WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA Beta) is now live.

Why should developers care?

Skills Reuse, Improved User Experiences, Lower Costs:
Well, with your existing Java skills, the WAS V7 Feature Pack for CEA can help you create some pretty awesome user experiences that improve the effectiveness of multi-modal online interactions and reduce costs. The WAS V7 CEA Feature Pack targets scenarios where users are interacting with each other through multiple modes of communications.

We’ve all been on a website, or for that matter, any web-based application, trying to find the right information before making a (purchase) decision. Often, multiple modes of communications (i.e. phone & website; instant messaging & website, etc.) are needed to obtain the information and make the decision.

Over the next two posts (here & here) I’ll discuss two key scenarios where the WAS V7 feature pack for CEA Beta shines. Saddle up…

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues