What's Next in Unified Communications

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  October 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of Unified Communications magazine

Video is both the present and the future for communications.

It’s old news that YouTube (News - Alert) has gone viral, with people using the site to share their creativity, promote their messages and attempt to get their 15 minutes of fame. Now, with video-enabled smartphones like the iPhone (News - Alert), it’s not uncommon for people to capture videos as they move through life, and almost instantly share them with far-flung family, friends and associates. And new multimedia computers, services like Skype (News - Alert) and newer desktop-based video phones are making videoconferencing more accessible to a larger number of both residential and business users.

But because it still requires a fair amount of technical know-how to get a videoconference rolling, most workers lack the tools, skill or desire to call on video for their everyday communications. That could change, however, is unified communications solutions providers are able to bring video in the fold and make it affordable and intuitive to use.

“A lot of people have instant messaging, collaboration, voice, etc., in existing enterprise structures,” Steve Vonder Haar, research director at Interactive Media Strategies, recently e-mailed me. “That means – in our view, at least – that video can emerge as one of the few triggers that can get organizations excited about implementing unified communications.”

He adds that without video, some may successfully argue for keeping legacy solutions. Indeed, Interactive Media Strategies’ recent paper “Video’s Role in Unified Communications (News - Alert)” calls video the linchpin of the unified communications experience and a key trigger in sparking implementation of unified solutions.

UC solutions providers appear to be answering the video call, as discussed in our story “Making Videoconferencing More Widespread” in this issue.

And, in a late-breaking development on this front, VBrick (News - Alert) told me in early September that it was preparing to announce a major integration with Microsoft’s primary unified communications software Sharepoint. With the integration of video into Sharepoint, users can combine the power of one-to-many video to every desktop with the real-time collaboration power of instant messaging, VBrick notes. 

Considering that many wireless devices now have video capabilities and employees commonly use such devices as part of their everyday business interactions, it seems clear that expanding videoconferencing to the mobile handset is what’s next.

Edited by Tammy Wolf