Collaboration and Communications: A House Divided

J. Caron
J. Caron

Summary Bullets:                

  • The Enterprise Connect event delivered on key social, video and hosted themes
  • Generally, though, the bigger Collaboration issues were sidelined—at least temporarily

Social is inevitable. Video is hot. Hosted is intriguing. Looking for themes from the 2012 edition of the Enterprise Connect conference held last week in Orlando? There you have them. And not a terribly surprising bunch they are. Indeed, the industry of technology suppliers and service providers dutifully followed through on promises to focus their energy on these issues at the event. Rightfully so, as these issues are the most important drivers for next-generation enterprise communications – a communications environment that embraces social networking techniques at its core, that handles personal video as if it was simply voice, and that can be deployed in any way that the buyer’s heart desires.

Unified communications? That is so last decade, my friend. UC is just a synonym for communications now, and that’s probably the way it ought to be.

What seemed to be lacking, however, was a complete commitment to a future of Collaboration platforms – capital ‘C’ Collaboration, where the enterprise system is built to facilitate easier and more effective interaction between co-workers, and with partners and customers. In this future set-up, communications techniques—voice, video, chat and presence—are simply a means to an end, not the end themselves, and they are all brought together along with tools like e-mail and conferencing, and collaboration methodologies like social networking into a cohesive whole.

The market, as evidenced by the Enterprise Connect energy, seems to be very focused on the various types of communications techniques, and not the bigger picture of bringing them together. And, to be fair, this makes complete sense today. There are issues to resolve for many comms and IT managers that are more practical than fitting everything into a bigger concept, and they are also accustomed to the communications perspective.  Issues such as grappling with BYOD and cost-effective mobility, along with properly evaluating hosted options to complement or replace existing systems, are really very pressing, contemporary concerns.

Ultimately, however, I expect events like Enterprise Connect will become more about Collaboration, and less about communications techniques – slowly, perhaps, but inevitably. Already the likes of Avaya, Cisco, IBM and Microsoft—amongst others—are preaching the Collaboration message, while keeping a close eye on practical communications matters, appropriately letting their customers dictate the pace.

One thought on “Collaboration and Communications: A House Divided

  1. Jeremiah, You hit the nail on the head. Users are interested in communicating with anyone or anything. Carriers have this inbred mentality (which extends to vendors and many corporate decision makers) that end-users call them! It’s very much a one-way, one-sided mentality which UC has suffered from all along. For example you may be on a UC system and as a receiver have set up a number of options/preferences, for which I, the sender care little. The potential for dis-utility is significant. Funny that all theses separate OTT systems are being set up like the separate instant messaging systems 12-15 years ago who fail to realize that the true value is in metcalfe’s law (aka the network effect).

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