Blended-premise services is the next big thing on the horizon for unified communications (UC), according to research firm Gartner. This is a complete UC suite that can be on-premise, network-based or both. It represents a "seamless blending" of enterprise and cloud-based implementations, says research analyst Bern Elliot.
While the "telephony centric" approach (which extends the IP PBX and unified messaging) and "email collaboration" approach (which extends email and Web collaboration with IM, presence and a unified client) are well established in today's enterprises, the blended-premise approach is yet to be fully embraced.
Elliot argues that unified communications and collaboration are now becoming one market. Technologies that previously were considered to be distinctly in the realms of communications (such as voice infrastructure and call centers) or collaboration (such as team work spaces or social software) are now coming together in unified offerings.
Such moves point to the coming adoption of communication and collaboration enabled business processes.
- The current reality: Whenever human intervention or a decision is required, the process must stop and move to a different infrastructure/process chain — whether the voice or messaging event touches the CRM, ERP or back office system.
- Future potential: Human intervention may still be required, but with communications integrated into the process — presence, messaging, real-time voice — the delays become minimal. The business application will directly contact the appropriate person using a communications application.
Indeed, Elliot sees three "killer applications" for unified communications:
- Context-specific presence lists. Dynamically created lists based on specific current needs; determines who is available to assist; may be integrated with location services.
- Flexible escalation and conferencing. Interaction starts one way, escalates to another, invites others; chat, to audio, to Web, etc.; know who is available.
- Intelligent notification services. Personalized group or inter-enterprise; role-based escalation and cascading; channel-independent; find me/notify me. Notifies individuals of events, alerts or calls via preferred method.
Elliot also offers some thoughts on UC adoption. Organizations that are "aggressive" adopters of UC will deploy the latest of all main UC components within the next year, he says. They will replace desktop phones with mobile and soft-phones between 2011 and 2014. And, between 2014-2020, they will eliminate PBXs. They will embrace ubiquitous collaboration and focus on implementing UC-enabled business processes.