I start this week’s blog in provocative mode crying out (loudly) for the retirement of the IT term “Unified Communications (UC)”. Why so passionate – whilst a very sound technical description for the outcome delivered when multiple communications technologies or channels work seamlessly together, there lies the problem – it’s a technical description. Users are unlikely to describe the communications devices or outcomes they embrace or desire in such a manner so now may be the time for the IT industry to let go of the Unified Communications (UC) moniker as a primary descriptor.
Currently it’s becoming hard to find a device not Unified Communications capable with even the most simplest of collaboration devices capable of more than one task, unified with another. For example a laptop can deliver a unified communications outcome due to the ability to act as a soft phone, video, fax, email, instant message and a multitude of other things. A smartphone can mimic a similar outcome to the laptop but adds a person centric rich mobile experience to the mix. And as we consider specialist user outcomes that may include tablets, telepresence units, video kiosks and the mass of current and future devices all will absorb the various and now common communications channels, unified to continue to evolve the next generation user communications and collaboration experience.
And there lies the most important component of all, “experience”. The various communications channels used in isolation or together are only of value when the user realizes the outcome or experience they expected. Therefore both vendors and solution providers must lead with a maniacal focus on the user experience(s) and reverse engineer it to sign post the technology required to ensure the term “Unified Communications” is required no more. Instead the outcome will be the outcome desired, described in the words of the user.
It may be time to retire the UC term and with it the historical viewpoints of poor user experience and flawed communications technologies. With the rich features now available on multiple device formats via on premise or cloud service delivery within the digital communications and collaboration technology portfolio, the only thing standing in the way of success is a lack of imagination.
Unified Communications (UC) has never been more relevant than now as the core technology fundamentals (even the traditional elements) are the transport for digital conversation in the 21st century world. But to make UC real for the user it’s essential to start by stopping any attempts to sell UC at all. Focus on the user outcome, discussed in the language of business and the technology will select itself. Then and only then will the end user realise a true Unified Communications “experience”.
Until next time.
Chief Technologist – Networking, UC and Security (Computacenter UK).