As we move forward with new technologies, media types, and services, the array of communication and collaboration services that are coming into the market is both wonderful and potentially bewildering. We used to just have a phone line, then we expanded to mobile, audio conferencing, web conferencing, videoconferencing, IM, presence, web apps, WebRTC, and much more. The new challenge is not getting what you want or need, it is choosing wisely from the myriad of offers in the market.
An interesting way to segment the market is by using two categories, first whether the type of offer is purely a conferencing solution or if it enables representation out. Representation is the concept that the system is enabled to represent you to people who you are not asking to communicate with you. In the telephony network, your phone number is a unique representation address that allows anyone with PSTN phone access to request a connection to you. So, the phone system is a representation network. Similarly, an e-mail address is representation into the network world, an account on LinkedIn (News - Alert) is another form of representation, albeit neither of these are as real-time as the phone. Similarly, Skype is a representation service, though it is generally limited to other Skype (News - Alert) users unless you have additional services. A conference, on the other hand, is a meet-me location where people come if they are invited. A conference is generally not advertised and requires an active invite from the owner, so it is not representing you in an open way.
A second categorization is whether the client focus of the offer is individuals or an organization. Some services are designed for individual use, both conferencing and representation, while others are focused on enabling the organization as an entity, typically for what are considered customer interactions. Individual solution offers enable services that make sense to individuals in the organization and their reachability and control, while organization offers are more focused on the incoming customer or contact and less on the internal, except for optimizing who in the organization is engaged for the interaction.
If we map these two categories on a graph, the focus of the current market becomes clear. The larger question that emerges is whether an organization needs one solution for all of these categories of optimized solutions for each category that is required. What becomes clear is that many companies in today’s market are starting in one area, for example starting with a conferencing service and moving to having representation. To decide which is best for your organization, a clear view of how you plan to manage the complexity of communications in the new world is critical. Next month we will talk about understanding your needs and whether you should pick the best one category and accept the rest or go for a best-of-breed offer across the categories.
Phil Edholm (News - Alert) is the president and founder of PKE Consulting LLC (www.pkeconsulting.com) and
works with INTERNET TELEPHONY parent company, TMC (News - Alert), to stage the WebRTC Conference & Expo.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi