With the size of the investment organizations make on unified communications and collaboration (UCC) , the last thing anyone wants is to paint themselves into a corner as it relates to future capabilities. Here’s a high-level look at the big UCC trends you need to know about in 2013 – and beyond.
1. Dissolving company boundaries
How many companies does it take to build a Boeing airplane? Lots apparently. But it’s not just jet makers that rely on inter-company collaboration. No matter what industry you are in, business doesn’t happen in a bubble. It’s a collaboration between multiple parties, from vendors, to manufacturers, to distributors. The term “walled-garden” (the idea that the benefit of the solution is limited to those inside your organization) often describes current UC implementation. Intercompany Multimodal UC is a rising capability that allows organizations to easily establish things like video chat and other coms channels between companies. The simplest version is Presence Federation, which lets you see the “presence” (availability or status) of people from other organizations within UC channels. As more companies beef up their UC implementation, this trend will continue to create stronger links between companies to beef up efficiencies and productivity.
2. Context is king
While it’s an old cliché, it’s also true: the only thing constant is change. And the demands of mobile workers are no exception to the rule. Whether you are the road, at home, or in the office, your business and technology needs are constantly in flux to adapt to your context. To address that, one UC trend is the ability to automatically deliver a different experience to users based on location, status and activity. Examples of this include Context Delivery Architecture, or CoDA, which is the practice of applying business rules or initializing applications, automatically, based on location of users. Imagine driving in your car on speakerphone with a client, and automatically receiving directions for the nearest spot to meet in person? Or, even better, imagine having all your calls go to voicemail when you’re home, spending time with the kids. While the concept has been around for years, we feel CoDA will become mainstream in 2013.
3. The web of things
Speaking of context – sometimes you will start a call on your mobile on your way to the office, but once you get to your desk, wouldn’t it be better to have that call shifted seamlessly to a desk phone, or better yet, the HD video display on your desk? “Ensemble Interactions” is the name being given to the UC trend that addresses that idea directly, from swapping calls and workloads between multiple devices, or using gestures to “throw” tasks from one screen to another. That last example might sound like something out of Minority Report, but technology vendors continue to connect the devices in our lives to make work simpler, more enjoyable and more effective.
4. Productivity, in 140 characters or less
Humans, as a rule, will never be perfect. We make mistakes, file things too late, overlook to-do’s, and so on. There seems to be an endless list of ways we can improve our own productivity. And unified communications is in part, an attempt to make things a little better by taking the human element out of the picture. One trend in this space is being referred to as “Communication-enabled business process” which essentially uses unified communications capabilities to reduce human latency that exists within a workflow. Simply put, this is all about leveraging existing platforms, such as email, IM, SMS or even services such as Twitter to alert a user if a business process is not being effectively executed. An example may be a manufacturing plant having a rule for when machinery reaches a certain temperature to send an SMS to the nearest technician to investigate, before it becomes a serious problem.
5. Really being there, without being there
We can’t get enough of better user experiences. It’s not just about multiplying pixels on a screen – it’s about enhancing the communications between people at a distance, and as a result, making the work happen easier, more effectively and hopefully with greater adoption, so the cost savings can see the light of day. That’s why another UC trends is technologies building and delivering cutting edge Rich Presence and Video solutions. For example, Rich Presence enhances the information participants share and receive about their status (location, what they are working on, etc), while fluidly connecting disparate UC technologies, such as phone, IM, video. This makes connecting with users, on time, and in a preferred way, far easier. On top of that, increasing the quality of video telepresence is expected to continue to cut down on travel costs, which is an increasingly frivolous expense in our emerging economy.
6. Welcoming the community to the enterprise
From the Arab Spring to the Presidential Debates, no one can deny social media’s hammer-like force for changing the status quo in how the world is communicating, sharing information, and collaborating. As such, social platforms are also make serious inroads into the workplace in a trend known as Internal Community Platforms. With services like Yammer, which brings Twitter-like communication to the enterprise, and Jive’s social CRM, and expanding functionalities in SharePoint, organizations are enabling their workers to leverage new paradigms of collaboration, in a secure and business-friendly way, to boost productivity and the bottom line.
Find out more
Have a question about how to take these trends to your organization? Or, do you simply want to see which UC technologies are right for you? At Softchoice, we have a team of vendor-agnostic thought leaders and a roster of data-driven assessments to help you make the right business decisions. Leave a comment below and someone from our team will respond post-haste!