Cloud collaboration and the future of ad hoc real-time communication

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With new technologies and solutions arriving at our doorstep more frequently, there has been a seismic shift in the way we communicate as individuals, businesses, governments, and societies. Today, much of our business communication is built upon the foundation of scheduled meetings and calls. However, we are always connected via text, social, and mobile.

When it comes to business, improving the level of communication to increase productivity and performance is always a goal. Modern-day communication solutions are modeled on the need for increased productivity and are constantly being developed with the aim of combining all the scattered parts of communication (voice, video, call, and text message) into a single platform.

In the not-so-distant future, we will evolve to rapid-fire, ad hoc communication in which all possible means of communication will merge into a single, real-time, business communication platform. In fact, this kind of a communication solution is already available to us in the form of unified communications (UC). Exactly how does UC predict the future of ad hoc, real-time communication? Let’s find out.

What is unified communications?

Unified communications (UC) is a system that joins voice, text, email, audio/video conferencing, presence, and IM into a single, combined user experience. The prime focus of UC is to enable better and more seamless collaboration that modern enterprises are seeking.

With the UC industry coming back with a bang in 2014 after a brief period of dormancy, we have seen new trends, products, and best practices emerge. Some of those trends clearly delineate the direction that the communications industry is headed. Here are three very important UC components that I think will play a huge role in deciding the future of real-time communication:

Cloud collaboration – Between premise-based and cloud-based solutions, the latter is gaining popularity among enterprises because of its cost-effectiveness, scalability, and ease of deployment. The global cloud market ispredicted to reach $180 billion by the end of this year, which means we will witness more cloud UC adoptions. While the question of security still looms, the benefits of cloud tech are the silver lining that will move it forward.

Mobile devices – As enterprise mobility becomes a reality, more businesses are faced with the challenges of staying connected with globally-dispersed workforces. The integration of mobile tech into the unified communication infrastructure not only allows businesses to collaborate without hiccups, but also multiplies their productivity. We are also witnessing the fast-spreading trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which allows employees to use personally-owned devices to get their work done. Clearly, the IT infrastructure required to leverage BYOD policies should be more secure, trackable, and accessible from all major collaboration points. Using mobile UC solutions like Dell’s mobile/BYOD package, which includes some smart features that address the BYOD needs of businesses, is one way that businesses can achieve that secure infrastructure.

Video conferencing – Video conferencing has probably been the most talked-about UC component of the last year, as businesses realized its benefits for dealing with some of the most nagging concerns, like remote workforce, escalating travel costs, and scheduling meeting in a cost effective manner.  A major trend in video conferencing has been to integrate certain qualities of consumer-grade video into enterprise-grade communication solutions. The biggest example of this shift is Microsoft’s move to bring together its consumer video platform, Skype, and its UC platform, Lync, with the launch of Skype for Business.

Another important factor in terms of video conferencing is video quality. As more enterprises plan to embrace video conferencing as the viable alternative to in-person meetings, video needs to be able to deliver all the nuances of face-to-face interaction, like facial expression, eye contact, and body language, with more perfection. Many AV vendors like Starleaf are offering high-definition cameras with the promises of making video meetings look and feel as real as in-person meetings.

Moreover, infrastructure tools such as Videxio and Blue Jeans Networks are allowing a wide variety of video platform use, from off-the-shelf solutions like Skype and Google+, to enterprise-grade systems like Polycom, Vidyo and Starleaf that allow users to connect at a single place.

The overarching focus is that real-time communication in the future is going to move conversations from platform to platform in real time, regardless of where you are or what device you use.  The best method of communication at your fingertips will allow stronger and more meaningful engagement. With such fast-paced advances, it’s not hard to see how the trio of cloud, mobile, and video are paving the way for the future of real-time communication.

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. To learn more about tech news and analysis visit Tech Page One. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are our own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

Image: Creative Commons 

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.

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