Is Unified Communications Already Here?
My good friend Ken Camp broke down why he thinks Unified Communications is already here, i.e the concept of a single inbox for everything. He goes so far as to suggest that the current Web 2.0 craze and Unified Communications are linked–one could not happen without the other. He even did a podcast on the subject.
My initial thoughts on this were that the two shared elements, but were not necessarily linked together in the way Ken thinks they are. However, I am starting to think about it in a different way.
To me, what Unified Communications and Web 2.0 are is simple: whatever you want them to be. They are terms that, in my mind, are fuzzy concepts at best. I try to come up with a definition for either term and I get a different answer each time. However, let’s worth with a definition I’ve ranted about: all communications coming through a single point of entry–email, voice, presence, fax, IM, whatever.
Companies try and sell products that “solve” this problem in some unique way, but involve redirecting everyone through some intermediary. Bah. The more I think about it, the more I realize that we already have a solution to this problem: the mobile phone.
For me, the mobile phone deals with many of these forms of communication and more. I can read both corporate and personal email on my phones. I can make phone calls. I can use IM–something I rarely use. I can update my presence on all of my social networks. I can check on said social networks.
The only thing I can’t do? Fax. But that’s something I only use in specific circumstances. It’s an enough of an exception that I don’t consider it a showstopper from the Unified Communications point of view.
Granted, there is an entire ecosystem that makes Unified Communications possible–many of them provided by so-called Web 2.0 companies. It’s not a product you can buy, it’s out there, waiting to be tied into by any old application that speaks the right APIs.
While the experience could be better–more unified as it were–I think we’ve got Unified Communcations today–if you have the right tools.