Twilio Teams Up With Fruition Partners To Bring Cloud Communications To ServiceNow

At Twilio, we believe that the effort to bring cloud communications to global companies and brands is best done with friends, so today, we are proud to announce our partnership with Fruition Partners.

Founded in 2003, Fruition Partners is a Cloud  IT consultancy that specializes in large-scale systems implementations for the Fortune 500. The company is the world’s leading ServiceNow partner, with over 200 successful deployments for customers like Coca-Cola, Viacom, American Express and Yale University under its belt.

Chris Dauw, Fruition’s Director of Product Management, says that when he started tinkering with Twilio’s APIs, he immediately understood the magnitude of their potential.

“We instantly realized that Twilio was going to revolutionize business telecom,” Dauw says. “Since then, we’ve been using the API to do some fantastic things.”

These fantastic things have included eliminating a $25,000/month answering service for a global brand, creating a real-time support ticketing system for a supercollider and launching FruFone, a Twilio Client-powered softphone that works in the browser and integrates seamlessly with ServiceNow.

In which a global retailer saves $25,000 per month

A little over a year ago, a global retail brand realized it had problems with the $25,000/month third-party answering service it relied on to handle after-hours calls. The high monthly cost was only the beginning: The retailer and the answering service tracked customer interactions with incompatible software, so getting data out of one system and into the other was an entirely manual task: Every day, someone in the retailer’s office had to take the previous night’s notes from the answering service and type them into the retailer’s own system.

Along with this laborious and potentially error-prone process, the retailer faced the risk that the answering service would have an outage or experience an unexpectedly high volume of calls, potentially causing critical messages to get lost and leaving customers needs unattended.

When Dauw heard about the retailer’s situation, he knew that there was a better way. Dauw figured that, in the age of cloud communications, dedicating $25,000 per month and hundreds of hours per year of data entry to answering late night phone calls no longer made any sense. Dauw and the team at Fruition Partners pitched the retailer on a new approach.

They proposed a solution built on ServiceNow – cloud-based IT service management platform – and Twilio’s cloud communications API. This solution, Dauw knew, could deliver a far superior experience to customers, eliminate the manual data entry process and save boatloads of cash.

A few months later, the retailer had completely ditched the old-school answering service in favor of an entirely automated system powered by Twilio and ServiceNow.

The new answering system never misses a beat. It uses interactive voice response (IVR) to automatically capture after-hours customer interactions, turn them into service tickets, sync them with the proper customer records and forward critical issues to the person on call. Everything is logged 100% of the time, and since the the whole system is automated and lives in the cloud, the retailer never has to worry that a spike in call volume or a human error will cause a customer to slip through the cracks. Best of all, the recurring $25,000/month fee is gone, replaced with an on-demand, pay-as-you-go pricing model.

Now, the retailer only pays for the after-hours calls that it receives – when it receives them – and nothing else. And unlike the old answering service, the new system is profitable: it delivers more revenue than it costs the retailer to use.

A particle physics lab gets the support system it needs

After getting fantastic results with the automated answering service, Fruition went on to build a “proactive” monitoring and escalation system for a national particle physics lab. The lab has literally tons of mission-critical super-computing equipment in use at every hour of every day. When a piece of this equipment encounters problems, the impact to essential scientific analysis is severe and costly.

Before Fruition Partners integrated Twilio and ServiceNow, the lab relied on highly expensive and outdated infrastructure, and the process was generally “reactive”: it required significant manual intervention to capture issues, turn them into support tickets and move them up the chain.

The new system, built on ServiceNow and Twilio, is “proactive”: it automatically calls available members of the support team the moment a piece of lab equipment goes down. On-call support technicians are informed of the impacted service or equipment, and can simply press “1” to accept the ticket. If the technician is not available they can press “2” to escalate the issue to the next agent in line or to management.  Outdated pagers have been replaced with smart phones, providing immediate access to the ticket through the ServiceNow mobile interface. This workflow has enabled the national lab technicians to respond to equipment problems far more quickly.

But these implementations were just the beginning

FruFone: VoIP comes to the browser

Built with the Twilio Client VoIP SDK, Fruition’s FruFone is a browser-based softphone that integrates native VoIP telephony into the ServiceNow platform. The product takes a full suite of telecom capabilities – inbound and outbound dialing, click-to-call, voice conferencing, call recording, call metrics, visual voicemail and more – puts them in the browser and makes them accessible right inside ServiceNow.

Because FruFone works in the browser, it requires no hardware and eliminates the need for the dedicated desk phone and complex computer-telephony-integration (CTI) traditionally required to connect software applications to a phone line. In essence, FruFone enables SerivceNow customers to go beyond the limitations of on-premises telecom with something much simpler, faster and more flexible: a Twilio-powered, ServiceNow-integrated software phone that is hosted entirely in the cloud.

As Chris Dauw says, “All of the hardware based telecom solutions are cookie-cutter, the main differentiator has been price. But when the cloud disrupts telecom, everything is going to be about innovation: what features and functionality can you provide that the others can’t?”

This blog post was authored by Twilio’s Product Marketing Manager, Dan Kaplan and is based on a series of conversations we had at the Enterprise Connect conference last month in Orlando.  Fruition Partners and Twilio will be presenting together at the ServiceNow conference  Knowledge12, May 13-17th in New Orleans.  The original post can be found here.

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Building Call Center Solutions with Twilio and ServiceNow

Here is a quick webinar I gave highlighting the power of using Twilio in conjunction with a SaaS Platform like ServiceNow. During the session I review using cloud telephony to build call centers and how to embed rich communications into your apps allowing your ServiceNow instance to interact with traditional phone systems.

I also review making and receiving calls directly into your browser via ServiceNow and highlight the potential for a game changing evolution in SaaS based virtual call centers, field services, help desks, and more. My goal was to demonstrate to enterprise clients how to empower a remote workforce, use SNC workflow to facilitate advanced call routing, track call statistics and analytics in real time, and actively monitor the level of support and customer service organizations are providing.


 

In the video I show how an IT organization can empower their ServiceNow instance via cloud telephony to make outgoing calls to support personal if a high priority incident is logged or if an SLA is about to breach. I also show how users can acknowledge receipt of critical P1 issues via IVR or SMS. Additional examples explain how end users can log a ticket in ServiceNow dynamically with a phone call when your help desk is over capacity or when users call after hours.

Highlights:

  • Inbound / Outbound Dialing via a soft phone in the browser, Virtual Voicemail
  • Dynamic IVR based on data from your instance
  • Batch notify incident closures for “grouped/consolidated” incidents
  • Schedule outbound dial campaigns with import-sets, for sales force automation.
  • Automated Off Hour Support: no more answering service or transcribing voicemail, callers can now log tickets directly in ServiceNow via voice.
  • Virtual Call Center and Field Services
  • Call queueing, Automated attendant, Company Directory lookup from LDAP/Users
  • Dynamic Conferencing
  • Monitor or Join Calls at the click of a button
  • SMS Gateway, Send reminders, escalations, instructions.
  • Analytics – Compare call times to ticket resolution time / SLA, track EVERY call via incident creation.
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Social Solutions for the Social Network

In my previous post I wrote about the importance of the Facebook imperative and how innovations and design patterns from social networking are revolutionizing enterprise software as we know it.

While I knew the importance in principle what I didn’t know was that I would be spending the next 6 months making the concept of collaborative enterprise solutions a reality for the company that is the impetus behind the social / collaborative phenomenon.  Earlier this year I had the opportunity to take over a team at Facebook while a Senior Manager went on leave and was tasked with turning around a struggling ITSM implementation.  This was all fairly straightforward and it wasn’t long before I had the ship righted and was seeking out new ways to innovate and extend their SaaS platforms.

It was at this point that Facebook came to us because they needed an evolution in their existing systems to handle running the day to day operations for their new flagship state of the art datacenters.

Given Facebook’s meteroric rise and growth (600 million 30 day actives, #1 most trafficked internet site) they needed a system to manage operations including server repairs as well as inventory, asset and part management on a scale that most have never seen before.  The new data centers will double the amount of repair actions and servers being processed and tracked throughout their lifecycle, so the new system would have to scale accordingly while delivering a requested 100% improvement over the existing systems performance.

The project was nick named 4-Clicks because it was the goal of the Director of Datacenter Operations,  that each server repair could be identified, assigned, and have repairs completed in just 4 clicks of the mouse.  That wasn’t the only imperative, we had four main critical success criteria:

  • Lightning Fast – Facebook built the largest database of people on the planet and they did it with a responsiveness seldom seen in enterprise software.  They measure page load times in milliseconds and expected the same from this solution.
  • Intuitive – Facebook doesn’t come with a user manual and either should this tool.  The expectation is that any user should be able to walk up to the application and begin solutioning repairs with little training or instruction.
  • 4-Clicks – Only 4 clicks to solution a server repair start to finish.
  • Parts Master – selecting tickets for review automatically stages the parts that need to be pulled from inventory to complete a repair.

I really wanted to build facebook a killer app based on their existing design principles and patterns.  When people go to facebook they at a glance can gleam all relevant information and updates from their social network.   I wanted to achieve the same for technicians in the datacenter as they go about their day.  All relevant information about the data center, server status, health, emergency repairs, and preventative maintenance are pushed to them like in a newsfeed.

Having the freedom to utilize (read: borrow) the existing Facebook design patterns helped us with our secondary goal of delivering a compelling intuitive user experience.  If you are familiar with Facebook you should be able to walk up and start maintaining and repairing servers using our tool.

Need to add new parts to a server?  Its as easy as finding the familiar button of adding a friend to your facebook account.

Want to mark a repair case to be reviewed later when you have more time, Poke the ticket for further review.

Each server has its own wall so a tech can easily see current status, repair history and what the pre-determined diagnosis is for why the machine is not functioning as expected.  We even utilized the Facebook Graph API to dynamically pull a users current profile picture when building server repair history.

Additionally the tool Integrates with Facebook’ homegrown server discovery/management tools to deliver repair tickets that come with an existing diagnosis identifying the exact problem parts that need to be replaced and their specific location/serial numbers for verification.  When a server is repaired our tool will transition any new parts used in the repair out of the consigned inventory system as well as mark old parts as replaced for RMA.  Integrations exist to communicate the parts failure to the supplier for immediate stock replenishment.

Summary:

  • Built on top of the Service Now SaaS Platform integrating Incident, Inventory, Asset, Management and the CMBD as one solution to track datacenter operations repairs, and parts replacements/replenishments
  • Utilizes the Facebook Graph API to build a social enterprise application based on familiar facebook design patterns.
  • Delivered a scallable solution to automate and streamline repairs and track the status and health of hundreds of thousands of servers and millions of server component parts in the CMDB.
  • Integrates with existing Facebook Server management tools to deliver an repair ticket that comes with an existing diagnosis identifying the exact problem part that needs to be replaced and it’s location/serial number for verification.
  • Changing the service management conversation to include real time social collaboration.

Technical Highlights

  • An entirely Ajax solution meaning like facebook we have designed a no-navigation user interface.  Every click loads the appropriate form and data without navigating away from the current page context
  • Implements HTML5 multi-threading and caching meaning multiple processes handle request concurrently for lightenting fast speed and efficiency.  Data is periodically cached mimizing the load on the system
  • Used existing javascript design patters to build out dynamic client side functionality to handle searching, multi-column sorting, bulk updates,dynamic column selection and ordering all lightweight client side functions.
  • Built on top of the world class Service-Now SaaS Platform.  Extended existing Incident, Asset, Inventory, and CMDB modules to build out a total solution to document and manage the Facebook Server Infrastructure.  Utilizing the Service-Now Platform gives us the ability to tap into existing Service Management methodology and functionality.  Adding SLA’s, custom notifications, or mapping service dependencies to hardware clusters is available out of the box.

Additional Reading:

Posted in Facebook, SaaS, ServiceNow | 3 Comments

Salesforce: Bringing sexy back

Enterprise software is the wallflower of the computing world, it’s dance card is always open. It’s typically  approached begrudgingly and even then usually only out of a sense of compassion, mercy, or at the prodding of others.  That assessment may in fact be optimistic.


Many in the field would liken using their enterprise software solution to visiting the dentist office.  No one likes going we just know it’s good for us.  No matter what industry or solution provider the same dilemma confronts IT management across the board.  How to appropriately incentivize usage or penalize  those that work around the system.


In order to win the battle for user adoption you must deliver a compelling user experience.  Computer gaming, social networking, and consumer software do this very well but this concept has been somewhat lost on the enterprise.


I used to do business development for a SaaS startup in Austin and in my one on one’s with the CEO I could always count on the same question.  Where is the sex?  The first few times I heard the question I thought, here’s a guy who is clearly abusing our lax policing of internet usage.  But then it hit me.  He wanted to know what I was doing to generate excitement and foster enthusiasm.  It’s a valid point and is just as necessary in sales as in software.  Unfortunately for the rest of us, sales guys are inherently more sexy than most software folks.  Sales guys have a James Bond debonair while most IT types race home to jump on World of Warcraft or Xbox live.


It is of no surprise then that a sales guy is revolutionizing the enterprise software industry.  Marc Benioff is single handedly evolving the enterprise and changing the way we think about software and he’s doing it by bringing sexy back.  Or at least making the introduction and chaperoning the first date. That jittery wallflower the enterprise is getting wined and dined and receiving a  cinderella style makeover that has been too long in coming.  Not to say that Salesforce hasn’t been pioneering, shaping, perhaps even inventing cloud computing as we know it, but with the Chatter GA release around the corner you can’t help but agree with Marc, we are about to see the greatest revolution in enterprise software, ever.


The Facebook imperative is taking shape.  The proliferation of social networking innovation has hit a fever pitch and those design patterns are trickling down to transform how we do business.  The world is changing and Salesforce is leading the way.
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