Unified communications is the latest buzzword in the business world. It’s a fancy marketing term that describes the integration of several platforms, be it one online service with another or an instant messaging program working with another company’s video service. UC certainly is not as complicated as it sounds and actually was around long before the term was created. The prevalence of this technology is becoming more and more of a reality with each day that passes.
To make things even more interesting, platforms such as the Blue Jeans Network integrate with Polycom video conferencing for IT. Service providers such as this one allows you to seamlessly connect with Skype and many other programs to allow businesses and individuals the interoperability they need to keep up with the demands of the new generation of business growth and development. This integration makes things easier for IT professionals because it reduces the steps needed to get everyone connected to an online meeting and there is no need for everyone to have the same kind of hardware or software.
While Microsoft and Cisco are trying work together to develop interoperability, as Tracee Herbaugh of Search Unified Communications reports, Blue Jeans works with both platforms, right now. IT professionals and end users can connect with Cisco TelePresence seamlessly.
Besides many businesses using Polycom hardware in their conference rooms, most enterprise employees use Microsoft Office at their work stations in some capacity. Because Skype for Business comes with Office, it is natural for employees to use it as a default IM platform.
Microsoft recently announced new features for Skype, according to Christian de Looper of Digital Trends. The next version of the program will automatically produce a transcript of your discussion. Cortana, the Windows digital personal assistant, will soon invade Skype and allow users to order food from vendors without leaving the app. There will even be bots that can interact with customers during calls.
Speaking of artificial intelligence, chatbots are on the rise, as Daniel Terdiman of Fast Company reports. They are even reaching out to a lot of different networks, including Facebook, the mother of all social media platforms. This is all part of a growing trend to make consumers’ lives easier by allowing them to interact with multiple platforms while remaining in their favorite app such as Twitter.
More employees are accessing online meetings via mobile devices every day. It’s up to providers to come up with solutions that fit their consumers’ needs. The challenge recently has not been related to hardware but to software. Users expect the same features that they get on a desktop version of a program to be present in a mobile app version. Fortunately, some of those service providers have already adapted their technologies, allowing people to access meetings through their mobile device’s web browser.
The mobile revolution has inspired the need for smarter integration because of their smaller screen sizes. Just because a cellphone offers split screen functionality does not mean anyone will use that feature. If people can click on a video while still in Twitter or Slack, they are likely to use those apps more often.
Even tablet users are likely to take advantage of integrated apps. Although most people use their tablet at home as a reading device or a second screen while watching a television, they can still easily access mobile apps. Again, the split screen option is just too awkward for most people.
There is no telling which platform will win out as the primary app of choice among many people. It might be different depending on a user’s environment. Slacker is the unofficial back channel at many IT companies, but Facebook is still the number one social media platform in the United States.
It seems like the testing ground for mobile social media apps is tweens and teenagers. They generally are the first adopters, and if an app can survive that demographic, it has a good chance of succeeding with older users. New apps come out all the time and try to steal market share from Facebook, Christine Elgersma of Common Sense Media writes. It seems to be quite a daunting task to figure out what kids want, but how about finding out Ways To Be an Awesome Parent: Parenting Skills and Tips?
IT and the Future
This technology is destined to become an even bigger part of the daily routine for IT professionals. A recent survey of U.S. employees showed 54 percent of them regularly used video conferencing at work, as Antoinette Siu of CMS Wire reported. Most employees say they see unified communications as a good way to collaborate and conduct more efficient meetings. One reason for this is that videos helps break through noise and makes it easier for individuals to communicate ideas clearly. If IT companies can better understand and implement these solutions, then they will become better at competing with others while going forward.