The growth in mobile technology is changing the way unified communications (UC) is being applied in organizations, and it’s an issue the industry will continue to grapple with as the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets in the business world continues.
“What started with the integration of enterprise email into the mobile devices has developed into a request for access to enterprise applications,” explained Onica King, analyst at Forrester Research (News - Alert), in Computer Weekly. “As employees continue to work on the go, demand will ultimately require full enterprise UC integration, including presence, instant messaging, conferencing — covering audio, video, and web — and support for Wi-Fi-based enterprise services.”
But that’s nothing less than a redefinition of the concept of UC, said Carl Weinschenk in IT Business Edge. “Communications tools are so customizable and powerful that much of a structured UC program is unnecessary,” he wrote. “If a group of people can throw together an impromptu Google (News - Alert) Hangout or Skype session to tackle a question that pops up, what need is there for a formalized corporate-level video conference? Those new tools must be given space under the UC umbrella.”
What does the convergence of mobile technology and UC mean for UC providers? Well, the market has experienced some declines over the past year. Perhaps packaging is one part of the issue as providers work to keep up with the shifting demand for UC solutions that include and work well with mobile devices.
However, it may be more than that. Mobile applications also are part of the complication for UC providers, Weinschenk continues, citing Google Apps and Microsoft (News - Alert) 365 as two applications that are attracting a lot of business interest. In fact, these types of solutions may be competing with UC products as they provide many similar types of services that are easily accessible and integrated via mobile technology.
Security remains an issue. Google, in particular, has faced criticism its lack of data recovery or audit trail features. The growing millennial population is also likely to be a factor in UC deployments. But Weinschenk believes that UC is still viable, in spite of the growing pains.
“Unified communications is not fading away,” he wrote. “But it is a confusing topic. Its definition always was fuzzy. Changes in technology and the workforce that uses it make it even harder to pin down.”