“Unified Communications.” The very phrase elicits a vast array of definitions, opinions, and ideas. Like the Force wielded by Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, UC is an indefinable and invisible influence invoked to persuade, mystify and confuse. Because it means different things to different people there exists no standard of behavior, features or protocols. Perhaps it is this lack of standardization that has led nojitter contributor Irwin Lazar to write about the unfulfilled promise of UC.
“Most of the IT leaders aren't really satisfied with their collaboration environment," says Lazar. "Meetings still take too long to set up. Documents aren't readily available. It's difficult to pick up from where the last meeting ended. Creating team spaces means relying on difficult-to-use document repositories. Those not in the conference rooms have a second-class citizen experience. And it's difficult to continue to collaborate after the conference call or Web conference ends.”
And there is the true culprit: for the millions of dollars spent developing UC solutions in the last decade, users find them clunky and difficult; waves of day 2 regret ensue. If a user has to launch one app for email and another for word processing, and an altogether other for sharing that with others, they will simply push away from the table until offered a better way to do things.
Enter mobility. Mobile devices became popular specifically because they drive simplicity, usability and innovation. What used to take hours sitting at a computer thoughtfully interacting can now be done casually alongside you anywhere you go. In fact, this very blog post has been written while sitting in meetings, idling at lunches and while watching TV. Mobile devices offer the chance to discard the complexity of UC and start with something entirely new. Applications like Evernote, DropTask and Smartsheet are changing the way we think about work and working together.
Collaboration, communications flexibility and social integration are still finding their footing in the boundless world of mobility. Business communications vendors are struggling to figure out how to translate their solutions in this new leash-less culture. Here at ESI, my development team focuses on exactly this problem, looking not for an answer to bring communications products to mobile devices but how to bring the way people work into the way that they live. Mobility is here to stay, but are your business communications solutions taking advantage of it?