Behind the Buzzwords

The Future of Unified Communications

Back in 2009, I had the honor of interviewing Gurdeep Singh Pall, Microsoft’s corporate Vice President for Unified Communications. Gurdeep caused a stir by throwing a desktop phone into a trashbin on stage at VoiceCon, comparing it to the word processors littering landfills across the country. Instead of a traditional phone, he championed the benefits of Microsoft Office Communications Server. He was one of the most vocal and convincing proponents of a unified communications platform over five infrastructures bound together by “copious amounts of duct tape.”

At first I viewed this as a challenge. I wrote countless words about data being stored in peoples’ heads rather than disk drives, and the need to find those heads and access them. I had religion.

Now I’ve lost it. Along with my netbook, desktop phone, PBX system, and big corporate job. As a small business owner I run my business on a combination of laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, iPhones, and Android devices. I cannot live without Skype and this amorphous thing called “The Cloud.”

I have found a new way to work. In real time. Anywhere, anytime, across any device. I don’t need Cisco, IBM or Microsoft to have telepresence and video conferencing. I have it all thanks to hangouts on Google+. I have seen the future of unified communications, and it is marked by three extremely important developments that will grow and impact not just small businesses but the very largest of global enterprises:

1) Unified Communications is dead. It’s just “Communications.” The merging of text, structured and unstructured data, instant messaging, and video is no longer revolutionary – it is simply the way we live, and the way we (expect to) work. We’re going to see more products that reflect this millennial, gamer mindset - not for novelty or luxury, but for productivity.

2) I’m going to use the “c” word, forgive me: The Cloud. Expect to see more software-as-a-service offerings that bring communications from a CapX model to an OpX model. This will free up untold dollars for more strategic uses of IT throughout your business, giving you nimbleness, first-mover advantage, and improved supply chain management.

3) Mobile. The dramatic deskphone trashbin toss? Let’s throw out the rest of wired communications along with that. Apple, Google, and Samsung have changed the way we live and work forever. You’ll see robust UC tools migrate to Chromebooks, tablets, and mobile devices. You’ll even begin to see UC popping up in the biggest mobile app there is: your car.

The biggest computing device around is mobile – your brain.  Expect technology to continue to try and catch up.

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About the Author

Jim Consolantis, Founder and Chief Strategic Officer, MidBeachConsulting

Throughout his career Jim has ridden each successive wave of the technology revolution, from mainframes to PCs; the Internet to e-business; handhelds to mobile devices and The Cloud. A Cannes Lion winner, he’s developed and launched innovative campaigns for clients such as Microsoft, IBM, Motorola and HP, and now helms his own high tech consultancy in the heart of Miami Beach, Florida.