Sep 25, 2007 (12:09 PM EDT)
Defining Unified Communications (Once and for All? Well, We Can Dream?)
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
As any regular reader of this blog knows, defining unified communications ought to be simple but isn’t. Partly, you can thank analysts like me for that—we all seem to have our own definition—but mostly, you can thank communications vendors, all of whom want to jump on the UC bandwagon to their specific advantage. While I can’t really fault the marketplace for that, it isn’t very useful, and it confuses matters for business and IT executives who are trying to decide whether to deploy UC technologies. In order to deploy them, they kind of have to know what they are.
To that end, my colleagues and I at Frost & Sullivan and Stratecast have developed our definition of unified communications. Here’s a look at what we came up with. For a more details, please visit http://www.frost.com/.
We consider unified communications to be a technology market sector: that is, a group of similar solutions using a common set of technologies that evolve over time. The term does not refer to a specific generation of capabilities – unified communications solutions will exist five years from now and have richer feature sets.
We begin by considering the attributes that make a definition of a technology market sector helpful rather than confusing. In our view a good definition will:
These goals are somewhat in conflict. Ruling things in and out demands specificity, while taking an evolutionary view requires deliberate vagueness.
So how do we define UC? Unified Communications is the evolution of telephone, e-mail, conferencing and instant messaging functionality into a single service or application that provides the standard communications environment for the knowledge worker. Presence information is a core element in any UC application; the voice capabilities will most like be VoIP but may also include TDM voice transport; UC includes the ability to transparently connect to mobile colleagues; and UC supports communications enabled business processes.
If one thing is certain, it’s that UC will continue to evolve over the next several years, and capabilities that are now optional, perhaps including real-time video support and advanced social networking capabilities, will become standard components.
This is our starting point, and it’s the definition we’re using for our upcoming UC market study. But I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please send them to me or post them below.