Persistent Business “Conversations” For UC In 2015?
Happy New Year!
In 2014, we were all somewhat puzzled by the name Unify came up with to replace their original Ansible announcement, i.e., “Circuit,” although its functionality for consolidating persistent multimodal business contacts makes a lot of sense. Shortly thereafter, Cisco has come up with “Project Squared” as a work-in-progress, device-independent, communications and collaboration platform to replace its aging WebEx service. It is clearly being developed around “cloud” infrastructure and targeting mobile-first business users.
Another recent innovative announcement from the legendary Ray Ozzie, who left Microsoft in 2010 as their chief software architect, introduced “persistent” voice calls and messages in a cloud-based mobile service called “Talko.” In effect, Talko records all phone conversations, as well as voice messages, as information that can be selectively retrieved just like other forms of data. This provides contextual data for further contacts and eliminates the need to remember any details of voice contacts by making written notes.
So, we are witnessing the next evolutionary stage of what we have been calling “unified communications” (UC) into UCaaS, but more importantly with “Circuit” and “Project Squared,” making multimodal business interactions more organized and persistent. This will provide greater context and continuity for faster and easier ongoing contacts and information exchanges with people inside and outside of an organization. Rather than having to find copies of previous messages or transcribed notes on phone calls, an end user will have access to see or listen to all such contacts that they were directly involved in or are part of a group that must share all such information.
Such information will also facilitate what I described years ago as “contextual” contacts for initiating a new call or message, without requiring the contact initiator to know the phone number or message address. Instead, there will be a flexible “click-to-contact” option when reviewing such communications, much like the legacy message “reply” and “forwarding” functions, but now for multimodal communications content.
If the contact initiator requires a real-time connection (voice/video), federated presence information would provide recipient status for proceeding and won’t have to bear the inefficiencies of legacy telephone-answering voice mail messaging, where a phone call attempt is required in order to send a voice message.
“Conversations” - The Benefits of “Persistent” UC
With multimodal endpoint devices, especially mobile smartphones and tablets, end users will be using all modes of communications to initiate and receive contacts with other people, as well as interact with automated business processes. However, all such contacts and interactions are related and should therefore be stored logically for easy retrieval and review contextually to any current interaction.
The benefits of capturing the “threads” of all modes of communication include the following:
Centralized access to retrieval of any communication contact between participating members of a group, whether inside or outside of an organization
Searchability of any mode of communication based on different criteria, including:
Identity of participants
Mode of communication
Options to quickly initiate a new contact to any person in the group or to persons identified in the call or message (“contextual” contact)
Enables better understanding from a sequence of different interactions, instead of just isolated calls or messages
If language translation is required, it can be applied across each recorded message or call involved for a consistent level of retrieval and review
As new participants become involved, the history of all previous communication exchanges are readily available for them to quickly review and start contributing
The history of any group activity will provide useful insight when evaluating the results of the project
The costs of separately documenting business process activities will be minimized as all pertinent communications are automatically recorded
I am sure there will be other practical considerations for selectively capturing a variety of communication activity in a common, multimodal “conversation,” but until we start really using such capabilities we won’t really know everything.
An important point to remember is that until we had the unlimited storage resources of the “cloud” (private, public, hybrid), we were in no position to collect all the information generated by the different modes of communication applications that are now also moving into the “clouds.” So, it really is a new ball game that we can start playing with UC.