Love it, or hate it, change is a regular and unavoidable occurrence in our lives and it seems that the pace of innovation and change is gathering pace. Never more so is this true than in the technology space and in particular that of communications and IT.
There is never a day passing without news of a new innovation that will sooner or later impact our lives, hopefully to show an improvement. Often it takes us a while to see these changes and certainly to get on board with the details of what the change is and its specific impact on our lives- working or personal. Within the IT and voice space especially the demarcation lines are getting ever more blurred between our business and personal lives and we see much talk about the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) which is frequently tweeted about on twitter with the #BYOD hashtag, as well as the increasing trend towards home working. This is something that is becoming the norm rather than the exception and the freedom to choose where you work, or equally as important for nomadic workers like me, be able to work anywhere, is underpinned by some of the smart technologies emerging from the Microsoft stable.
Microsoft has for some time been on the fringe of “total” communications technology (TCT), delivering Internet Messaging (IM) and presence capabilities. This evolutionary journey began several years ago initially in LCS, then OCS, and now in Lync. What we have seen as a precursor to this TCT is Microsoft integrating their solutions into some voice vendor’s technologies with varying degrees of success – after all, when two large corporations come together, with the best will in the world, there is always a wrestling of “we do it like this so can you change that”. Notwithstanding that there have been some successful partnerships, but that has all changed forever, as Microsoft has declared their hand as a complete voice, and video enabled UC solution.
What for me makes this such a compelling offering is the usability and simplicity. Generally speaking when a “worker” enters the office (home or traditional workplace), the first place to go is OUTLOOK. Here, we can access all of our emails, appointments and contacts….. Contacts, with whom we wish to communicate. The simplicity of seeing the status of my (federated) contacts before I consider how to communicate is already a big bonus helping me decide the best mode to begin. Once I have decided, a simple click of my mouse initiates the call from whichever device I wish – so if this is my laptop, I could very well have chosen just a headset – This in itself brings huge benefits – NO IP PHONE = LOWER POWER CONSUMPTION – this is a good thing – right? NO PHONE ON MY DESKTOP = More space available – this too is a good thing – Yes? So we can reduce our carbon footprint, real estate costs and all from an integrated UC application – MS Lync, which means we no longer need a PBX – wow! Why would you not want to consider this?
I was recently pondering technology and specifically the kind of technology that I’ve spent a significant portion of my working life with and that is telecommunications – telephones and data communications if you will.
For a long time the enterprise or business community led the way as far as technology adoption went and especially telecommunications. I’m sure you all recall the first mobile phone “bricks” that were for a long time “status symbols” in the workplace. But now it’s all change,as nearly all of us have I am sure, very “smart” smartphones full of the latest apps, and tablet devices aplenty for our own use, and acquired personally. And so most people have better technology available to them in their pocket than many enterprises have afforded them today. As a result of this “dynamic”, increasingly individuals are deploying their own devices in the work environment (Bring Your Own Device) causing an absolute headache for the IT department as far as security of information is concerned. Notwithstanding this, many enterprises are stepping up to the plate and enabling their workforce to deploy their own devices which on the face of it might seem to be a good thing for the enterprise – allowing them to save money on not equipping everybody with new technology – perhaps?!
However this is only part of the conundrum given that ultimately communication is all about, well …..communication and the very disparate nature of these devices with different operating systems et cetera clearly presents a challenge in terms of integration and of course making them all work seamlessly. And that’s before we even get into a conversation about support. So having said all of this what’s my point. Well my point is this. The Legacy PBX and communications infrastructures are clearly creaking at the seams, in fact many haven’t been updated since the end of 1999 (when the Millennium bug was going to see planes falling from the skies) amidst fears of failure if nothing was done, and I begin to wonder who today is really offering the greatest innovation to meet the needs of the way we’re choosing to communicate and work these days?
Many of the usual suspects are struggling with the very legacy that everyone else is, and I can’t currently see any vendor really rising up to the challenge, however, I can’t help feeling that one of the worlds biggest players albeit not known for their “voice” credentials – Microsoft may well have the answer with their Lync offering and the partnership ecosystem (or ISV ecosystem) that I’m seeing beginning to evolve.
There are increasingly so many compelling reasons to ensure we review and change the way in which we communicate, not least of which the challenges around travel and the drive for organisations to become increasingly more green and create a much smaller carbon footprint. So I guess the biggest challenge here really is the disparate nature of these technologies and the understanding for organisations in order to be able to successfully integrate these technologies to work effectively and of course in these austere times to find an affordable solution. So in the final analysis I can see that we will increasingly see the adoption of the aforementioned technologies and in a “use what you require” cloud supplied utility price model. And it seems to me that for the next few years certainly that this will increasingly be the preferred acquisition model. Services organisation with a heavy bias on knowledge workers will be the “glue” that makes it all work, and ultimately free us from the “desk”?? – well that is I believe a completely different challenge and discussion for another day.
Isn’t it funny that even though we know intellectually things like videoconferencing and audio conferencing in general are a good thing as far as the green agenda is concerned and of course from an efficiency and effectiveness point of view. Yet we still don’t seem to adopt them in our business lives quite as wholeheartedly as you might imagine.
Why ever not?
Is it merely standards, usability or acceptance or is it something more esoteric?
Perhaps it is all moving a lot faster than we think, for example in our personal lives the availability and uptake of technology particularly in terms of mobility is staggering. Much of this technology is now being driven into the enterprise through our adoption at a consumer level. We are finding increasingly, use for Skype and facetime for example. These applications are being broadly adopted by generation Y and increasingly by their parents . Furthermore these consumer technology products are also being brought into the workplace as you will see increasing use of personal iPhones, iPads and other tablet devices in use for work purposes and IT departments having little choice but to embrace and “allow” it.
If you add to this ubiquitous nature of data anywhere any time from any device and the always on availability of (increasingly higher bandwidth) data connections we can see that there is a need to understand and embrace if we are not to be left behind when it comes to competing for customers, staff and profits.
So what will you be doing to ensure you embrace the unstoppable change that all of this enables?
I was musing over some of the really cool technology available today, like the new Flare Experience from Avaya, launched this month, and in particular how sales in this area has or as not changed in the past 5 years or so. In particular, I was considering the sales approach and whether or not there is a greater degree of sales resistance and perhaps it is getting more difficult to open doors, or if general improvement in available information via the internet and social platforms that the opposite is true. My sense is that the right approach is varied according to audience, but absolutely can be successful – and that’s a conversational, business language oriented conversation, not a strong closing aggressive language. Ari Galper discusses this in his unlock the game while others claim that cold calling is dead. Personally I think that good clear professional communications has always and will always work.
What do you think?