Application Integration Is Key to Delivering Effective Collaboration

Gary Barton
Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Integration with a range of business applications and the ability for solutions to work outside the organisation are key features for valuable UCC solutions.
  • Enterprises should tell vendors what they want from systems integration offers.

This week, BroadSoft announced its plans for its new Project Tempo initiative to deliver integrated unified communications and collaboration (UCC) services based on the vendor’s UC-One platform. The initiative will begin in January 2016 with beta trials of ‘UC-One Hub,’ a cloud service designed to integrate real-time communication services (e.g., IP voice, IM and e-mail) with third-party hosted/cloud-based applications. BroadSoft states that UC-One Hub will also provide ‘contextual intelligence’ for users.

BroadSoft’s announcement is part of the wider trend that reveals communications is becoming an applications/IT challenge rather than a pure telecoms matter. This is true of BroadSoft’s announcement to the extent that the initial trials are being run on BroadSoft’s UC-One Communicator soft client, taking it further away from traditional PBX solutions. UC-One Communicator will run on Google Chrome and include integration with Google Apps (e.g., Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive), as well as Concur, Redbooth and Twitter.

Click-to-call/IM integration with e-mail, calendars and other apps isn’t new, but BroadSoft’s ambition is to pre-integrate its platform with a wide range of apps. This will reduce the need for enterprises to invest in systems integration services from ICT providers, making it easier for customers with smaller ICT budgets to access effective collaboration solutions. How successful BroadSoft’s solution will be remains to be seen, but its ambition is in the right direction and should show enterprises how they could achieve better value from UCC.

UCC solutions should make it easier for colleagues, particularly those who are in separate locations (whether in different offices or in remote locations), to communicate instantly; but they should also help them to disseminate information. UCC gains its full value only when it is helping staff to communicate with people inside and outside the organisation, particularly customers. In these instances, the system should be able to provide the right information to maximise that interaction. Enterprises should therefore be asking about a UCC solution’s ability to be used across and outside their organisation (federation); its ability to work with other UCC platforms (interoperability); and its ability to work with other applications such as CRM and other databases and record storage systems (integration).

It is not, at least in the short-to-medium term, realistic to expect seamless integration and interoperability from any given provider or platform vendor. It is, however, reasonable for enterprises to highlight to both that this is the functionality that is of most value to them. In the shorter term, this should involve talking to ICT providers about their ability to integrate. For the medium-to-long term, they should consider putting pressure on platform and application vendors to build solutions that are better able to work with each other. As BroadSoft’s announcement suggests, enterprises will not find that they are pushing against a locked door, and having these conversations will lead to better enterprise UCC solutions both now and in the future.

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