There are more than a trillion intelligent devices in the world. Four billion mobile subscriptions are held worldwide, 22 million in Australia alone. Two billion people use the internet, 11 million internet people in Australia. There is no question that our world is racing to be more instrumented, more interconnected and interdependent. These changes present profound opportunities and challenges for business.
Despite all this connectivity, $650 billion of productivity is lost each year because individuals don't have easy access to the people, information and expertise they need to make timely decisions. And people are frustrated because the collaboration and communication tools they have are typically separate and siloed and, more often than not, just get in the way. People don't (and shouldn’t) have to bounce around between applications to find, reach, and collaborate with the people they need to get the job done.
By 2014, social networking services will replace email as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 per cent of business users
But removing the barriers to internal collaboration is not enough in today's competitive environment. More and more companies have to extend collaboration, coordination, and business processes beyond the walls of the traditional enterprise.
Unified communication and collaboration (UC2) brings together an array of technologies such as instant messaging, presence, email, telephony, web, audio and video conferencing and even social networking simply through a unified user experience. Common access points and a consistent user interface gets the tools out of the way and help people find, reach and collaborate easily to make better decisions.
In addition to providing a unified user experience for existing tools, UC2 solutions extend from the traditional PC and phone to a range of devices including mobile phones, smart devices, and those we haven't even seen yet. This is critical, if people can't find collaboration tools or easily figure out how to use them, they will remain doing business the way they always have. It also provides an opportunity to incorporate consumer-inspired collaboration capabilities, such as wikis, tweeting, and shared bookmarks into the business environment. UC2 is not limited by corporate boundaries.
UC2 solutions are built on architecture that supports industry standards and best-of-breed applications in order to protect users from inevitable infrastructure changes down the track. This is particularly important as companies are exploring various delivery models including traditional on-premises deployments, new cloud services and hybrid combinations of both.
Today, business should dictate an open approach to unified communications — open integration on the back end to a wide range of technology providers — from voice to video to email and social networking. This will allow consistent user experience across the applications people use everyday and ensure they’re on the right path to reducing overheads and ultimately helping the business and its employees to find, reach and collaborate more efficiently and intelligently with others.
James Gorry is business unit executive, Lotus Software, IBM Australia and New Zealand