Enterprise communications is speeding toward a convergence of voice, data, and video. See it all come together at VoiceCon 2010 in Orlando, March 22 - March 25.
Another hot area is that of mobility. Spending on cellular is the fastest-growing part of IT budgets. Convergence has three dimensions, voice, video, and data. Mobile adds another dimension -- how to converge mobile versus fixed communications services.
This year, VoiceCon has planned a session that demonstrates how mobile convergence can work. Organizers have asked nearly a dozen vendors to create mock requests for proposals that will then be examined together to see how each company approaches them.
"We're going to explore in-depth how mobility can be integrated into unified communications and look at the devices enterprises are migrating to," indicated Knight. "A lot of enterprises are looking at smartphone platforms. Should they standardize or not? Which platforms are they going to support? The theme of mobility is permeating everything we do here. It needs to be accounted for in virtually everything."
It has shown promise for ages, now unified communications appears to have finally come of age. UC has been highly touted as an enterprise solution for years. Now, there are actual products available that companies are really buying into. VoiceCon has a lot of programming on this topic, and will teach enterprises how best to design UC systems and fit them into their overall strategies.
The idea of unified communications goes hand-in-hand with cloud communications. A growing number of unified communications services are being hosted in the cloud. This places the future of traditional desk phones in serious doubt. While knowledge workers may be able to exist with only a mobile device, other workers -- such as those in call centers -- won't be able to cut the desk phone cord as quickly.
Outside of clear-cut cases like this, enterprises may need guidance in choosing the right ratio of mobile-versus- fixed. On average, the physical telephones that land on an employee's desk can account for up to 30 to 35% of the cost of an entire communications system. Can that be reduced with different tools? Cell phones? Are there other devices and/or systems that are up to the task?
Last up? Video. "We're seeing an awful lot of pickup for video," said Knight. "This year, as much as or more video products are being sold as traditional voice products. Travel and expense budgets are playing a role in the uptake of video technology in the enterprise. It helps to contain travel costs."
Whether or not video is a slam dunk for your enterprise depends on your organization's particular needs. There is no simple math equation that magically lets enterprises determine if videoconferencing can pay for itself. The number of options is large, and the biggest players will be at VoiceCon to help enterprises decide what might work. "The question is what's the right mix? Who needs what? How does it integrate? What about mobility telepresence?"