Oracle Open World - A Unified Communications View
This week I spent a few days at the Oracle Open World event in San Francisco. While I was distracted by incredibly fast catamarans racing on hydrofoils, I focused on understanding how UC was being positioned and discussed at Open World. I was looking to see if Unified Communications was becoming a bigger part of what has traditionally been an information event. As I see communication at Open World as a reflection of the next stage of convergence, communications converging with business applications, seeing how far it is coming along is also insightful.
While wandering the show floor, I was looking for communications activity beyond the traditional space of CRM and customer service. I could only find four communications-oriented companies represented: Avaya, Cisco, Five9, and Interactive Intelligence. While Avaya, Five9 and II were showing integration with the Oracle CRM platforms, the Cisco booth was focused on their data center solutions. Avaya was also showing Aura as a UC platform. However, communications was a miniscule part of a big trade show that covered two major halls and side venues. In fact, if you combined all four communications booths together, they could have fit in one of the smaller of the multiple Accenture booths at the show. While this is not intended as a comprehensive review, in walking around I never saw the words "Real Time" as a skill or capability listed on any of the dozens of consulting organizations represented.
I was very interested to see if WebRTC was beginning to change the information market to more communications focus. I believe that after seven years of talking about Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP), WebRTC will make it a reality, not as a telecom implementation, but as an extension of Business Applications themselves using WebRTC. As users become more comfortable with the variety of devices and user experiences for communications activities, it makes sense that communications will be added directly to business processes to reduce the latency in human interaction in those processes to improve the process and overall business efficiency. Oracle and the entire community that comes to Open World will eventually be a critical part of this; I was seeking signs that this is happening already.
I found two sessions specific to WebRTC, both primarily service provider content. WebRTC was mentioned in the Communications section keynote and in some of the Customer Experience sessions. However, WebRTC was not mentioned in the big session keynotes, where cloud, big data, and in-memory computing dominated the topics. I assume these were critical to the America's Cup effort, though one would think that in four years the real-time communications enabled by WebRTC could be a component as well. Perhaps Larry Ellison was going to mention WebRTC in the cloud keynote that he skipped to watch the cup race on Tuesday (congratulations to Larry and Oracle Team USA for an incredible comeback). When I saw the Opus Group, I thought they might be communications or codec focused, but they are focused on business processes. Of the four communications vendors, Avaya was showing an interesting demo of WebRTC integration into the Contact Center platform.
In the Communications Industry area I found what I was looking for in WebRTC. Oracle was demonstrating their progress in delivering a product set to enable WebRTC apps developed by customers as well as adding WebRTC to native Oracle apps. The Oracle Communications WebRTC Session Controller solution included the Oracle Communications Converged Application Server and an ACME Session Border Controller, along with other components. The team demonstrated a real estate web site commerce app that showed how WebRTC could enable video and map annotation between an agent and a client. The real exciting demo from a UC perspective was WebRTC integration with a web email application showing how WebRTC can facilitate collaboration directly off the email app. The collaboration included IM, voice, video, and screen/app sharing. This demo showed how quickly a web-based app can take on characteristics normally associated with the advanced UC applications. In fact, by treating the screen sharing as a video stream, it enables a multiplicity of simultaneous sharing between participants. The real estate app used the data channel to synchronize a Google map between browsers and to enable annotation on the map, a really neat feature to let someone know details on a map (or other web item). It is clear that the mash-up potential of the data channel is going to be big.
While Oracle Open World is still an information event, communications is moving in. Looking forward, it appears communications will increasingly become a part of Open World as WebRTC enables a tighter integration between information and interaction. In fact, in a presentation about Oracle IT and communications, the presenter referenced WebRTC specifically as a next step in improving Oracle internal IT and apps. By next year, I expect there will be an order of magnitude more communications at Open World, driven primarily by WebRTC. I also expect that some of the big consulting companies will add "Real Time" as a consulting practice next to their traditional information practices. The interesting question is when IT staff that typically thinks of themselves as being communications oriented will see Open World as a potential event to attend.