Thinking about transitions

I was recently in a web conference that included a physical meeting room with some 5-6 people in it whilst others in the meeting were connected to WebEx.  Whilst no issues technically, the mix of physical and virtual, in my opinion just wasn’t effective.  Now, normally in a 100% WebEx meeting there  is an indication of identity and who is speaking.  It is a great attempt to visualise physical meetings.  Nothing new there, it has been around for ages and as a platform is brilliant.

However, when a meeting room dials in and is shared between multiple people in a room, the physical to virtual is completely lost.  Yes you can see the room speaking, but identities are not prevalent and this is a problem, especially if you are not familiar with the personnel at the other end.

This leads me to believe that we are in a transition.  I believe that transitions are short periods of time that help us evolve to better methods of achieving or goal.  They also have their ups and downs until we get through it.  Do you remember the compact disc?  That was a transition.  It was a transition to where we are now with streaming media.  It was supposed to be more durable than vinyl with crystal clear clarity in digital form.  It delivered that, but in a short period, it has been superceded by music downloads and of course the mp3 player that not only offer the supberb quality in sound and vision, but also the simplicity to obtaining content.

Obviously every transition will have a start and an end.  In this case the start is a physical meeting.  Traditional in every sense, but now as we embrace and extend globalisation and boundaryless enterprises our colleagues and more importantly the knowledge pools are being pull together from far-flung places across the globe.  Technology has allowed us to do this, but we don’t always get it right.  Admittedly the physical meeting is king, but productivity can still soar using multiparty voice and the combination of both.  I think we’ve proved that as we continue to increase the usage of online conferences.

The goal however, is to emulate the physical meeting as much as possible and that’s where video has to be the answer…for now.  Not just any video but high-definition real-time video.  It is here today, but the usage is minor compared to voice and I think that is just a matter of time before video overtakes voice on the network as it becomes more affordable and the quality increases.

So, I have to keep reminding myself, not to dismiss what we have today, embrace it and accept that the transition to video is almost here.

UC in the sky with dialers

Hello again!  It’s been a while since my last post and lots has happened in between.  I won’t go into detail except to say I’ve been flirting with twitter and facebook and sadly still can’t get away from that old relic known as e-mail.

Back to this post.  I’ve been thinking about Unified Communications and Cloud services in fact UCaaS to be specific.

As we all know, UC is a collection of communication tools that historically were siloed.  The telephone, Email, Voice Mail, IM, Video Conferencing and so on.  In the last couple of years and more so this year, we have seen a massive increase in Software as a Service…services targetted at the Enterprise with some very tempting benefits.  Some have made the move successfully whilst others need time to build trust to embrace the concept.  This is particularly true in the finance sector where concerns about security and location of data referenced against local regulations makes it all the more difficult to entertain a move from on-premise to the cloud.  I’m sure this will change over time as richer and more secure services become available and of course the economies of scale kick in and make it a no brainer.

Email and IM in the cloud is nothing new, as consumers, we have been doing it for years, but what about the other services that make up the UC pie? Well this is where I get to the point of this post.  Moving telephony into the cloud… telephony as a service. Nothing new except the providers in the market today are not the traditional Telco.

Look at Cisco, Microsoft, Google and many others who want to provide UCaaS.  To provide 100% UC aren’t they going to have to provide a dialer in the sky? Today, out of the three I mention Cisco are the only one capable of providing on premise Telephony integration into their Saas (WebEx Mail/Connect), but that’s obvious as they are incumbant for Enterprise telephony.  What if an Enterprise wanted to move their PBX off premise and integrate it into their cloud based Email, IM etc?  Will the current big name UCaaS… service providers become Telcos and be regulated as such?

Will Cisco, Microsoft, Google etc now be competing with the likes of BT, Verizon, Singtel, France Telecom and so on?

Tell me

Microsoft, yes Microsoft have launched a voice activated search application for the Blackberry, even before a Windows mobile version! Brushing over that fact, I have to say that I’d love to try it out, but being in the UK it seems I’ll have to wait.

Whilst in the US a couple of weeks ago, I played a lot of golf. Every [other] day we searched local golf courses for times and fees to get the best all round locations. Usually using a desktop/laptop, Google maps and a phone we canvassed local golf courses that met our criteria. As you can imagine, local in Florida is a 30 mile radius and golf courses in a 30 miles radius are plentiful. I’m not going to count.

I can really see how usefull this application can be especially when GPS is stable, fast and effective as it was in Florida.

In the meantime, I’ll be testing Yahoo oneSearch with voice support for Blackbery.