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Goal-Directed Communications?

Selecting hosted VoIP from among all its various forms is the chief topic of this month’s issue, and one can’t dispute the fact that both pure-hosted and managed IP PBX (News - Alert) solutions have taken the burden off of many IT departments around the world, not to mention those smaller organizations that don’t have an IT staff at all. Indeed, one wonders how the “company phone system” was managed years ago by a “phone manager” – generally the same secretary who presided over the keys to the executive washroom.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are waking up to the fact that they can save a lot of money and at the same time keep their blood pressure and stomach antacid bills under control by adopting a hosted or managed communications system. Selecting one is not completely a “no brainer,” however. Preparing a list of deal-breaker functions, shopping around and doing an ROI and pre-installation analysis of your existing system and network are now becoming standard procedure.

In the not-to-distant future, some kind of super middleware will take the list of functions you need, examine what your legacy equipment can do and will then “fill-in-the-gaps” by subscribing to specific functions from specific services, without buying into a whole boatload of expensive features. Since all of the communications functions in existence will be broken down into their fundamental components and each will be offered like a little utility service, the overall intelligence of the system (as embodied in a presence manager / “electronic secretary”) could also assemble those functions and run them as needed. Thus, “calling” someone might involve automatically converting a voicemail into an email, or vice versa, or a video message into a series of pixilated, static fax images. Instead of being tied to a specific device and media, communications will become more “goal-directed”.

After all, when you get up from a chair and walk, you don’t think about whether you have shoes or sneakers on, or about how to put one foot in front of the other. Similarly, communicating with other people in the future will be a more fluid and “automatic” affair.

Recently we’ve commented how Unified Communications (News - Alert) and presence are going to connect everybody at all times and thus cause fundamental changes both in terms of lifestyle and the way we do business. But looking a bit farther down the road, foggy though it is, we can make out that things such as SaaS (News - Alert), SOA, and Web 2.0 will help to bring about an even more fundamental change in our lives, a change in the very way we communicate over long distances. We’ll all be able to focus more on the job at hand and less at finding phone numbers, arranging for conference calls, or what-not. Communication becomes the intention to communicate, not a detailed mechanical procedure. Where does all of this ultimately lead us? Back in the 1980s Yours Truly published an article on decoding brainwaves. Perhaps future phone systems will be based on “mental radio” like the device satirized in the 1967 movie, The President’s Analyst.


In our April article on “Service Creation,” Yours Truly interviewed Ken Lee, Director of Worldwide Marketing for the Communications Platform Division of BEA (News - Alert) Systems. Several of Ken’s quotes are attributed to “Lunk” instead of “Lee”. For example: “The crux of what BEA does in terms of service creation and service delivery centers around our WebLogic SIP application server and our service exposure and policy platform called WebLogic Network Gatekeeper,” says Lee. “Both of them are critical to implementing service creation and execution. If you want to have a lot of service capabilities, you need an application server that can first and foremost implement those capabilities. It’s a multi-step process to realize service creation — its core has a sort of application ‘container’ or service container that will execute those capabilities, such as instant messaging, presence, conferencing, VoIP and call control. These are pieces of software that need to executive within a container, which increasingly needs to be a single converged container that can cut across and bridge IT, web and telecom protocols. As it happens, WebLogic SIP Server is that container foundation for all of the network operators that have implemented our products.”

We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. IT

Richard Grigonis (News - Alert) is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.

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