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Unified Communications Magazine November 2007
Volume 1 / Number 3
Unified Communications Magazine

How Web 3.0 will Benefit Network Operators


Web 2.0 refers to using the web as a place for communities and services that can share data and ideas, delivering and allowing users to work with applications entirely through a browser.

Web 3.0, on the other hand, will revolutionize the Web via two major developments: First the web is transformed into a sort of database (declarative knowledge), by taking what was simply HTML visual presentation code on web pages and embedding standardized, structured data so that content is now accessible even by non-browser applications. These applications will leverage semantic-based artificial intelligence technologies so as to allow the application's "agent" to go forth and retrieve data from the Internet, and to utilize that data to make intelligent decisions and predictions on behalf of the application agent's user (procedural knowledge).

Jon Doyle, Vice President of Business Development at CommuniGate Systems (www.communigate.com), says, "Both network operators and consumers should be thinking about what's coming next and how Web 3.0 will make things such as unified communications, Rich Media, Advertising, and Social networks much more powerful and pervasive than they currently are."

"We can already see today that the VoIP business is becoming commoditized, and fewer companies are adopting access or toll based phone calls as a business model," says Doyle. "VoIP technology is evolving as the infrastructure to support exciting developments relating to unified communications. You can use presence, for example, not only in an IM window but in ways that determine how phone calls and other communications are routed to you. But Web 3.0 will enhance UC even more. Now that systems can increasingly talk to each other, you can do many things involving intra- and inter-enterprise integration. Eventually you'll see 'intelligent assistants' go out from applications such as CommuniGate's Pronto! and acquire data from the web. So instead of a web/browser interface, you'll work with something autonomous that sits on the desktop and uses the web to retrieve data. But how is a UC application, be it CommuniGate's, Cisco's or Microsoft's, going to leverage all of this data on the Internet and make predictable decisions? That's what we all have to think about."

Doyle elaborates: "Let's say you need to go to the doctor today, and your calendar contains five other appointments," says Doyle. "With Web 3.0 you can insert this new appointment in your calendar, and the calendar itself will be sufficiently intelligent to rearrange all 5 appointments by going out, collecting information and making decisions about how to reschedule those events. The calendar may send notifications to users indicating that particular appointments must be rescheduled and then coordinate with the other applications based on the other users' Free/Busy times."

"You can take the calendar idea and keep enhancing it," says Doyle. "Let's say you send me an email containing your signature file and an address. If I hover a mouse cursor over that, the app could contact Google Maps and show me where your house is situated, or retrieve and display some kind of other data it thinks I want. I could then further embed this data into my contact data store. In the future, I might say, 'I have an appointment with Zippy next week. Tell me the best route to see him', and the application will schedule an appointment with you, then take the additional information about you that it has assembled over time and arrange for a car rental or other form of transportation so I can travel to your location, and it will give me estimates of how long it will take to get there. The application's agent thus makes decisions on its own for me - hopefully good ones!"

"This technology will have a huge effect on business," says Doyle. "Take as an example the way e-commerce systems connect together via EDI [Electronic Data Interchange]. Let's say my product company that sells hoola-hoops. Currently when I sell something to you and your friends, I have an EDI interface to UPS and perhaps FedEx. So when you buy a hoolahoop from our website, you input your address, and EDI informs you how much it will cost to ship the product to you. In Web 3.0, you won't need EDI interfaces directly to UPS or FedEx. Instead, when your system accepts product information from the customer, it will take that information and scour the web, searching for all different kinds of ways to ship the product to the customer. Because the web pages themselves will have embedded data, the system as a whole will be able to tell you not just the price but also how fast it can be shipped to you, how it can be routed in different ways, and things like that."

"Similarly," says Doyle, "if Dell is trying to sell you 10 other accessories along with your new computer, your software could narrow the choices and select what's most sensible for you, because it knows whether you're a past customer, what kind of products you buy periodically, and so forth. It's a more intelligent handling of the data."

"People talking about Web 3.0 are also rallying around 'network computing' or SaaS [Software as a Service], with powerful 'mash-ups' of applications. So if I'm processing orders through a CRM [Customer Relationship Manager] such as Salesforce, the data is sent through, say, CommuniGate Pro off to a logistic company such as Schenker, and they put products into boxes and load them on trains and they get delivered to my customers .Simple enough, but when "what if's" happen, these intelligent agents can do something, maybe route products that are out of stock from another location, and make adjustments to pricing because of that. It's all about using applications as a service on the web and mashing them up together to work as a unified solution."

"One important point about Web 3.0 is ubiquitous connectivity, which also plays in the FMC [Fixed-Mobile Convergence] space," says Doyle. "You'll always be connected to the Internet through whatever device you might have - mobile handset, PC, TV, office desk phone, office PC - with a single roaming identity that can traverse networks, and be connected to your identity.. These devices can work with you knowing about your status: where you are during the day, what kind of devices you have, and so forth."

Doyle concludes, "CommuniGate Systems has long been enthusiastically supporting the idea of having a single 'roaming identity' or 'portable identity' for multiple types of communications. IPv6 plays a role in this and but also using what we all today call an "Email address" as a "Unified Address", or a route on the internet to you. Soon you'll automatically log onto other external services as needed and create mash-ups in the process. Imagine reading an email from me and a floating window pulls in data from a CRM database - without you having to log on - and displaying data informing you that I've bought $500,000 worth of products in the last six months and my birthday is next week - and so the system is triggered into sending me a bottle of wine!"

Obviously, even a little intelligence, when applied properly, can go a long way.


Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC's IP Communications Group.

Unified Communications Communications Magazine Table of Contents

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