LAS VEGAS-Companies who don’t already employ presence, universal clients or multichannel notification technologies will have to adopt some form of UCC tools if they want to hire and retain the sharpest talent, an analyst said at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2008 here.
Gartner analyst Bern Elliot made the claim during his overview on the UCC (unified communications and collaboration) market, a multibillion-dollar market that encompasses PBX, e-mail, calendaring, voice applications and instant messaging from the likes of Cisco Systems, Microsoft, IBM, Avaya and several others.
“Outside pressure will force change [in businesses],” Elliot said, noting that college interns who join enterprises for a summer come in already armed with the knowledge of UCC tools, such as Skype’s VOIP or collaboration tools such as Google Apps.
Businesses that neglect to enable instant messaging and mobile collaboration will lose the talent to other, more technology savvy vendors who promote communication-enabled business processes. Moreover, traditional UCC providers such as IBM, Microsoft will have to ratchet up their efforts, versus the nouveau entrants such as Google and Skype, Elliot said.
UCC Tools Grow Rich
Emerging UCC tools will typically include rich presence capabilities. For example, unified communications software is increasingly starting to denote not just whether someone is online via instant messaging, but whether the business worker is in a meeting. Location-based services are being leveraged to not only find people, but find available meeting rooms.
“Presence services will be a vital unifying tool, allowing users to right click (for example) on a name and invoke a variety of collaboration mechanisms, and shared team spaces will provide temporary and persistent repositories for interactions,” Elliot said. IBM is expected to offer rich presence tools in Sametime Unyte later this year.
Also, businesses are increasingly turning to universal clients, such as IBM’s Lotus Sametime and Microsoft Communications Server 2007, which enable UCC across any desktop or mobile device, as well as multichannel notification services that leverage voice, e-mail and instant messaging services.
UCC business cases
Elliot said these services will become the rule, albeit with a caveat: businesses who buy such tools will also have to buy tools to manage and secure them, perpetuating another buying cycle.
Finding fascinating UCC business cases can be a tricky proposition. Elliot delivered two.
Need Another Size in The Fitting Room? RFID it.
In Japan, high-end jeans maker Mitsukoshi gets so busy that there are long lines for the fitting rooms. To alleviate the logjam of users tying up the rooms by having to make multiple trips onto the floor to find something that fits, the company put Cisco IP Softphones armed with RFID tag readers in the fitting rooms.
When a shopper needs to try another color or size, he or she simply scans the RFID tag on the garment bar code and the IP phone provides the store’s inventory of sizes and colors for those jeans. If the customer wants to try on another pair of jeans, he or she uses the IP phone’s help button to call an attendant and request another pair.
Organ Donor Tracking
In another scenario, UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) uses an intelligent notification technology from Send Word Now to identify the right organ recipient and monitor the status of an organ as it is delivered to the recipient transplant team.
In the first half of 2007, 9,000-plus transplants were facilitated through the network, and 11,000-plus transplant-related alerts were sent each day via Send Word Now.
So, UCC doesn’t just line the pockets of IBM, Microsoft, Avaya and any vendor that can provide the tools to help corporate employees do their jobs better; the technology can help save lives.