Simplexify Your Life

Paul StockfordI just got a new mobile phone. It’s a Samsung Galaxy S III, which is supposed to be stateof- the-art in terms of mobile communications. I didn’t get an iPhone because iPhones aren’t supported on the T-Mobile network and I’m not really hung up on owning an iPhone anyway. The Galaxy S III is supposed to do what the iPhone does, but I don’t know for sure because I’ve never owned an iPhone. I wonder, though, if the iPhone is any easier to figure out than the Samsung Galaxy.

As I searched my new phone in vain for a simple ringtone that produces, of all things, a ringing sound when I receive a phone call, I sort of got nostalgic for the days when cell phones were just phones and they were so small you could slip them into your shirt pocket and not even realize they were there. In fact, having a really small mobile phone was, at one time, a status symbol. I recall walking around the Call Centre Expo shows in London during the late ‘90s and early 2000s and looking with envy at the tiny mobile phones being used by the mobile-forward Europeans as I fumbled with my bulky Motorola phone. I should have been more appreciative of the size of my bulky Motorola back then. My new Samsung Galaxy S III is roughly the size of a salad plate.

My new mobile phone provides me access to lots of sophisticated and complex applications, but it’s not nearly as easy to use as the mobile phones that I used back in the day. Not only is the size considerably greater than my old phones were, so is the time it takes to find my way around the settings and applications. While the mobile communications world becomes increasingly complex in design and operation, an entirely different phenomenon is occurring in the contact center industry due to a concept known as simplexity.

According to Wikipedia, simplexity is an emerging theory that proposes a relationship between complexity and simplicity. Apparently the term has been around for quite a while, but the first time I heard it was at the Calabrio User Group meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., this past September. The term was used in reference to Calabrio’s workforce optimization solution, and once I started looking into exactly what simplexity means, the more I found it applied to Calabrio’s and, by extension, Cisco’s contact center solutions.

To better understand how simplexity applies to contact center solutions, consider the following definition of simplexity as offered by computer scientists Andrei Broder and Jorge Stolfi: “The simplexity of a problem is the maximum inefficiency among the reluctant algorithms that solve P. An algorithm is said to be pessimal for a problem P if the best-cast inefficiency of A is asymptotically equal to the simplexity of P.”

If that didn’t work for you either, let’s try this: Simplexity addresses the question of why simple things become complex and how complex things can be made simple. While the former applies to the mobile communications market, the latter applies to the contact center industry. Simple mobile communications are becoming increasingly complex while complex customer service solutions are becoming increasingly simple in terms of use.

Those of you who have been around for a while will remember when workforce optimization solutions were relatively new and, while the concept of integrated technologies that worked together to optimize agent and contact center performance looked good on paper, in practice it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Users were constantly toggling between applications and interfaces, each with separate menus, databases and administrative requirements. The productivity gains and return on investment (ROI) were significant enough that users tried to overlook workforce optimization’s shortcomings in favor of the operational enhancements it offered.

With the advent of the Web 2.0 framework a few years ago, everything changed. Browser-based Web 2.0 workforce optimization, such as the solution offered by Calabrio, has simplified the once complex workforce optimization to the point that customization has replaced complexity and familiarity enhances simplicity. Customizable user workspaces and a single user interface define the simplexity of Web 2.0 workforce optimization. Keeping in mind that Web 2.0 is the basis of social media applications, it is easy to understand how workforce optimization is becoming about as difficult to use as Facebook.

Although I didn’t use the word “simplexity” specifically, I recently wrote a paper on the simplification of workforce optimization through the use of Web 2.0. If this is of interest to you, you can download the paper at

As I scan the dozens of apps icons on my new mobile phone and wax nostalgic about the days when you could get a ringtone on the phone that sounded like a phone ringing rather than a lame Midi electronic rendition of a Justin Beiber song, it seems to me that there are not only industry lessons, but much more that can be learned from how the contact center industry is simplifying complex tasks while increasing efficiency and productivity. If only I can figure out a way to simplexify my life.

– Reprinted with permission from Contact Center Pipeline,

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