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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Business Conversations Need Voice, But Visual Information Too!


With all the new forms of access to text information and messaging, including email, SMS, social, IM, unified messaging, voice-to-text messaging, etc., one wonders what will happen to traditional voice-only conversations over the telephone. Don’t worry too much, because such voice communication contacts are still efficient and important for person-to-person interactions. Whether done over the legacy PSTN, over VoIP connections, or with mobile devices, voice conversations will always be important and necessary. The only thing is that sometimes voice conversation alone is just not enough to do the job!
Let’s face it, trying to describe a situation or an event is not always easy or accurate and is often more time consuming or confusing to the person trying to understand what is being described. So, talk alone is just not enough for faster and better understanding, and therefore traditional voice calls are also not adequate for better and efficient information exchange between people.
“A picture is worth a 1000 Words” – Is video worth a 1000 pictures?
Without trying to quantfy the benefits of sharing pictures or videos vs. just written or spoken words, we know that both can be much more informative in describing something. But, what has not been considered seriously before, is the value of also having the power of voice conversation dynamically combined with the visual information of pictures and videos.
Sure, we have always sent such information before or after a voice conversation, but with the power of unified communications (UC) and the use of multimodal devices, it really is time to close the information exchange gap for dynamic interactions between people who are not sitting together in the same room.
Verbal discussions are very useful for exchanging opinions and highlighting the importance of issues that are being discussed, but not that efficient for describing a specific problem. That is where showing a document, a graph, a picture, or a video clip will be much more effective and more time efficient than just spoken or texted words. In scheduled conference calls, such visual information is usually sent ahead of time to participants, so that they are better prepared to discuss things. However, with the ability to quickly include mobile participants wherever they are, the reference information to be discussed may well have to be exchanged in real time during the conversation.
What people really need to see during a business voice conversation
Zeus Kerravala, in a recent post on No Jitter about collaborative teamwork, decsribed the way people exchanged information as “Audio conferencing allows users to talk to one another. Video conferencing enables us to see each other, and Web conferencing allows workers to share information such as slides and Word documents.”
The only thing I would disagree with in his description, is that video is primarily to “see each other.” Seeing other participants in a conference call is nice but not always critical to the discussion. What is more important is to see a “problem,” not just hear it described, and video may be the best way see what happened or is still happening. So, video conferencing really needs to be seen as an important option in business communications that delivers information about the problem, not just for watching people talk.
Video information can now be delivered over the Web along with voice (WebRTC), not just for “collaboration” by business users, but also as needed by consumers with their smartphones and tablets, as well as by customer assistance staff responding to a customer need. Amazon’s “Mayday” button approach is somewhat limited because it uses video “one-way” to show only the customer service agent on camera, along with shared access to the customer’s tablet screen. The more general case for customer assistance or any business discussion would allow every participant to show pictures or videos of what they are talking about.
With IP network technology and multimodal personal endpoint devices now available to all types of end users, we can now support the combination of visual information and voice. We just need to package things up properly for users to dynamically exploit the combination of visual media with voice conversation more easily an effectively when required. UC flexibility will certainly be key to this flexibility for exchanging any form of information while talking about a problem.  

Copyright © 2014 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Monday, April 07, 2014

Is “Unified Communications” Really “Unified Interactions?”


At Micrsoft’s recent Lync conference, Gurdeep Singh Pall, Microsoft’s new head of Lync and  Skype, came up with yet another term for what those two product offerings will do for business communications, i.e., “Universal Communications.” It doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement over what we at  UC Strategies have been calling “Unified Communications” (UC). After all, what is the big difference between “unified” and “universal?” My feeling is that either term is acceptable, but the real problem is that people think “communications” means it is only about person-to-person contacts.
If you look up the definition of “communications” in Wikipedia, you will find that “communications” is limited to contacts between people.
Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning "to share" [1]) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, written, or behavior. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more living creatures.
True, it used to be that, before interactive computing, the only way a business transaction could be performed or business information could be accessed remotely was through a live person (telephone, mail), but that has really changed with direct consumer access to online applications through multi-modal smartphones and tablets. Rather than just person-to-person contacts, users can now get or give information by interacting with online applications, and, vice versa, people can receive alerts, reminders, and timely notifications from automated applications (CEBP). So, “communications,” as commonly defined being just between people, is really not adequate for what is actually happening in computer-based business activities.
Time To Upgrade “Communications” To “Interactions”
Don’t get me wrong! We still need person-to-person contacts, but now we need to include contacts between a person and an automated application. The way I see it, both types of contacts may be considered as interactions – interactions between people or between a person and an automated application. In addition, either type of interaction can be two-way, i.e., a person or application contacts you or you contact a person or an application. Since there are many efficiency benefits to be gained by minimizing the need for involving another person in accessing/delivering information, or performing a routine transaction, that choice should now become a flexible option of any self-service application.
If we now look at what we are “unifying,” “optimizing,” or “universalizing,” it’s not the old definition of “communications,” but rather any interaction with people or with automated online applications. What is also most important, is that the flexibility to dynamically choose the mode of interaction is now practical with increasing end user adoption of BYOD multimodal mobile devices that can support all the mobile user’s situational needs. Further, when one user wants to talk but the the user can’t hear, or one user want to type text but the othe user can’t look (e.g., driving a car) speech–to-text and text-to speech conversions can be brought into play for contact exchanges.
“Unified Interactions” (UI) Hits The User Interfaces On The Head
As BYOD takes hold with multinodal mobile device use by all kinds of end users, the flexibility for more efficiently exchanging information and conversation in different modes becomes more practical. Now we are hearing a lot more about the “User Experience,” which really depends on the User Interface (UI) with both person-to-person contacts and interactions with online applications that are rapidly becoming more mobile than just restricted to desktops devices.
What “Unified” means is that the different modes can be dynamically used by people involved with any form of interaction with other people or with an automated application process (inbound or outbound). In a real-time videoconference session, some people can be “on camera” with video, while others can only see the “video,” but still participate in the voice conversation; all participants may also be able to see any form of information that is exchanged (document, messages, video clips, etc.) If you want to call that “Universal,” fine, but I think the real focus should be on whether interactions will be just between people or between both people and online applications.  

Copyright © 2014 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Video-enabled UC Easier Said Than Done!



If “a picture is worth a thousand words"(spoken or written), what’s a video worth? 
That’s a good question now, because desktop PCs and smartphones can add video exchanges and videoconferencing to other unified communication (UC) options. The answer, of couse, depends on the individual end user’s information needs of the moment, but making such communications capability a simple “click” to switch to video conferencing is a bit more complicated than voice conferencing.
Business communications are moving beyond wired messaging and voice calls to wireless Internet connections with mobile devices that support visual, audio, and video user interfaces. The rapid consumer adoption of mobile smartphones and tablets is dramatically expanding legacy forms of business communications to multimodal unified communications (UC). With more personalized choices in mobile devices, often described as “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device), the power of desktop computers and telephones has been extended to mobile consumers for accessing information, performing self-service transactions, and being able to flexibly communicate with people and interact with online applications on a personalized basis.
What this really means is that such flexible business communications have to be available easily, selectively, and consistently, to all types of end users, whether within an organization (employees), or outside an organization (business partners, customers). As both communications and business process applications move from premise-based hardware and software to Internet-based public, private, and hybrid clouds, UC-enabled interactions can now be offered more easily and cost-efficiently as hosted/managed services, also known as Unified Communicaitons as a Service (UCaaS). While telephony system providers are trying to migrate their legacy voice technologies to cloud services and integrate with IM platforms such as Microsoft Lync, they are also trying to add video options as well. By its very nature, video is more complex than just voice, and making it simple for end users as part of a UCaaS offering is a challenge for legacy telephony service providers.
Different video strokes for different folks!        
At the individual end user level, business communication needs will vary with the roles that an end user plays in a business process. Such use case requirements will be different for vertical markets, as well as the BYOD choices of individual users. Providing such flexibility, especially for users outside of an organization, can best be done in a hosted/managed service environment, where the service provider has the tools and expertise to manage and change the spectrum of communication options that are required by different classes of end users.
Such flexibility has been extended to include video conferencing interactions, where people may be “on” or “off” camera, but can still be connected in real time for voice conversation, while exchanging any form of visual information related to the discussion. The big breakthrough, then, is that people can now dynamically and flexibly communicate and exchange information with others any time, from anywhere, and in any mode that is appropriate to the involved end users.
So, when it comes to implementing the power of both video and UC to existing business communications, a UCaaS provider with solid video experience is a practical resource available to any size organization. One of these vendors is Yorktel, which notes, “Once called the video industry’s best kept secret, Yorktel is best known for making complicated simple.” As a vendor agnostic video provider, Yorktel works with industry leaders including Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, and Vidyo. While not as well known as some of the larger video vendors, Yorktel’s customers include Fortune 500m and federal agencies. The importance of having a UCaaS provider with a solid foundation in video was reinforced in Yorktel’s announcement at Enterprise Connect 2014 regarding their VideoCloud service. VideoCloud integrates with enterprise platforms like Microsoft Lync for specific vertical market use cases that need video, such as the booming telehealth industry, and integrates with specialized video endpoint devices like iRobot  for manufacturing, and VideoKiosk for a variety of government, retail, and banking vertical markets.

Video conferencing for meeting rooms, desktops, and, now, mobile devices
While UC has been talked about for a long time in conjunction with real-time voice telephony for voice conferencing, video conferencing capabilities have been extended from traditional room based systems, to desktop PCs, but, most importantly, to individual end users with mobile smartphones and tablets. This opens the door to satisfying the need for traditional face-to-face meetings with more cost-effective, conferencing options that go beyond just voice, thus minimizing the time delays and costs of traveling to a meeting.
Adding video conferencing to the list of UC-enabled capabilities of any multimodal device means that users can simply “click-to-video conference” contextually in their preferred mode of being “on” or “off” camera. Connecting via the Internet, e.g., using WebRTC, increases ease of use as well as lowered connectivity costs. However, things are not that easy to implement, and the complexity of communications technology to selectively integrate and exploit video as a service when needed, has to be simplified for real world use. That’s where Yoktel’s experience comes into play to help customers extend existing communications to include flexible use of video.
UC-enabling video conferencing capabilities allows end users to start from simple messaging contacts to IM to voice connections to video connections from a common user interface.
Video conferencing at the infrastructure level
While making things simple for end users is most important when it comes to increasing adoption, there is unfortunately a need to ensure that infrastructure integrations are taken care of.
There are various factors affecting the use of video that add to integration requrements, including:
·        Video conferencing requires both voice and selective use of video to show visual information, i.e., “on camera” options for conferencing participants, and particpant connectivity with different endpoint devices
·        Video connections have no standard codecs access
·        Integration of video conferencing with online business process applications requires APIs for “click-to-videoconference” option to be embedded within the applications
·        Video output will have to accommodate different user endpoint devices that hav different size screens and different operating systems
·        Video content display may require authorization at the individual participation level
·        Video conferences require management controls scheduling, invitations, notifications, who is on or off camera, who can speak and when, etc.
·        Video content that will be dynamically presented during the video discussion must be easily generated and accessible as an option to authorized participants
Yorktel prides itself on its years of experience in handling such requirements and simplifying customized usage for different types of end user applications. As the business communications market increasingly moves towards a combination of BYOD devices, unified communications, and cloud based business applications, Yorktel is prepared to assist different vertical market customers of any size through this evolution.
 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Visual "Mobile Apps" Replacing Legacy IVR Applications

Copyright (C) Unified-View, All Rights Reserved.

UC is starting to move quickly from internal business communications to end users outside of an organization, i.e., business partners and consumers (customers). UC has also always been more important for mobile users who need the flexibility of UC to support their dynamically changing  environment with the choice of using voice vs. text messaging vs. video.

This shift towards UC-enabled mobile customer services is also being reinforced by the increased use of self-service online "mobile apps" that provide flexible  "click-for-asistance" options when a customer needs it. A good example of this is Amazon's use of a "Mayday Button" option on their Kindle HDX device that connects them with video agent to help them use their device.

To sit in a very interesting discussion of the value of "visual" self-service, rather than a legacy voice IVR application, please check out this webinar hosted by Jacada. 

http://www.jacada.com/webseminar/webinar-visual-ivr-roundtable-discussion 

 

  

"UC Video" - Easier said than done!


If “a picture is worth a thousand words (spoken or written),” what’s a video worth? That’s a good question now, because desktop PCs and smartphones can add video exchanges and videoconferencing to other unified communication (UC) options. The answer, of couse, depends on the individual end user’s communication needs of the moment, but making such capability a simple “click” to switch to video is a bit more complicated than voice conferencing.
Business communications are moving beyond wired messaging and voice calls to wireless Internet connections with mobile devices that support visual, audio, and video user interfaces. The rapid consumer adoption of mobile smartphones and tablets is dramatically expanding legacy forms of business communications to multimodal unified communications (UC). With more personalized choices in mobile devices, often described as “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device), the power of desktop computers and telephones has been extended to mobile consumers for accessing information, performing self-service transactions, and being able to flexibly communicate with people and interact with online applications on a personalized basis.
What this really means is that such flexible business communications have to be available selectively, but consistently, to all types of end users, whether within an organization (employees), or outside an organization (business partners, customers). As both communications and business process applications move from premise-based hardware and software to Internet-based public, private, and hybrid clouds, UC-enabled interactions can now be offered more easily and cost-efficiently as hosted/managed services, also known as Unified Communicaitons as a Service (UCaaS). While telephony system providers are trying to migrate their legacy voice technologies to cloud services and integrate with IM platforms such as Microsoft Lync, they are also trying to add video options as well. By its very nature, video is more complex than just voice, and making it simple for end users as part of a UCaaS offering is a challenge for legacy telephony service providers.
Different video strokes for different folks!        
At the individual end user level, business communication needs will vary with the roles that an end user plays in a business process. Such use case requirements will be different for vertical markets, as well as the BYOD choices of individual users. Providing such flexibility, especially for users outside of an organization, can best be done in a hosted/managed service environment, where the service provider has the tools and expertise to manage and change the spectrum of communication options that are required by different classes of end users.
Such flexibility has been extended to include video conferencing interactions, where people may be “on” or “off” camera, but can still be connected in real time for voice conversation, while exchanging any form of visual information related to the discussion. The big breakthrough, then, is that people can now dynamically and flexibly communicate and exchange information with others any time, from anywhere, and in any mode that is appropriate to the involved end users.
So, when it comes to implementing the power of both video and UC to existing business communications, a UCaaS provider with solid video experience is a practical resource available to any size organization. One of these vendors is Yorktel, which notes, “Once called the video industry’s best kept secret, Yorktel is best known for making complicated simple.” As a vendor agnostic video provider, Yorktel works with industry leaders including Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, and Vidyo. While not as well known as some of the larger video vendors, Yorktel’s customers include Fortune 500m and federal agencies. The importance of having a UCaaS provider with a solid foundation in video was reinforced in Yorktel’s announcement at Enterprise Connect 2014 regarding their VideoCloud service. VideoCloud integrates with enterprise platforms like Microsoft Lync for specific vertical market use cases that need video, such as the booming telehealth industry, and integrates with specialized video endpoint devices like iRobot  for manufacturing, and VideoKiosk for a variety of government, retail, and banking vertical markets.

Video conferencing for meeting rooms, desktops, and, now, mobile devices
While UC has been talked about for a long time in conjunction with real-time voice telephony for voice conferencing, video conferencing capabilities have been extended from traditional room based systems, to desktop PCs, but, most importantly, to individual end users with mobile smartphones and tablets. This opens the door to satisfying the need for traditional face-to-face meetings with more cost-effective, conferencing options that go beyond just voice, thus minimizing the time delays and costs of traveling to a meeting.
Adding video conferencing to the list of UC-enabled capabilities of any multimodal device means that users can simply “click-to-video conference” contextually in their preferred mode of being “on” or “off” camera. Connecting via the Internet, e.g., using WebRTC, increases ease of use as well as lowered connectivity costs. However, things are not that easy to implement, and the complexity of communications technology to selectively integrate and exploit video as a service when needed, has to be simplified for real world use. That’s where Yoktel’s experience comes into play to help customers extend existing communications to include flexible use of video.
UC-enabling video conferencing capabilities allows end users to start from simple messaging contacts to IM to voice connections to video connections from a common user interface.
Video conferencing at the infrastructure level
While making things simple for end users is most important when it comes to increasing adoption, there is unfortunately a need to ensure that infrastructure integrations are taken care of.
There are various factors affecting the use of video that add to integration requrements, including:
·        Video conferencing requires both voice and selective use of video to show visual information, i.e., “on camera” options for conferencing participants, and particpant connectivity with different endpoint devices
·        Video connections have no standard codecs access
·        Integration of video conferencing with online business process applications requires APIs for “click-to-videoconference” option to be embedded within the applications
·        Video output will have to accommodate different user endpoint devices that hav different size screens and different operating systems
·        Video content display may require authorization at the individual participation level
·        Video conferences require management controls scheduling, invitations, notifications, who is on or off camera, who can speak and when, etc.
·        Video content that will be dynamically presented during the video discussion must be easily generated and accessible as an option to authorized participants
Yorktel prides itself on its years of experience in handling such requirements and simplifying customized usage for different types of end user applications. As the business communications market increasingly moves towards a combination of BYOD devices, unified communications, and cloud based business applications, Yorktel is prepared to assist different vertical market customers of any size through this evolution.
 

Friday, February 28, 2014

With SDN, Communication Service Providers Can Deliver UCaaS To All Kinds Of End Users


 
Since there is so much news about Lync, WebRTC, and mobile communications in general that has come out lately, I will make this post short, and hopefully sweet.
Because both business and personal communications are migrating towards multimodal mobile devices, online mobile apps, and “cloud” based software infrastructure, communication service providers (CSPs) and wireless carriers are becoming the focal point for BYOD application offerings. Legacy hardware-based network connectivity has always been difficult and expensive to develop and integrate, but they are now becoming “virtualized” software functions to join business process applications and data storage by moving into “cloud” services.
My UC Strategies colleague, Michael Finneran, just posted an article describing how networking is becoming more flexible and controllable by applications. By becoming more software-based (Software Defined Networking), networking functions can now be more flexible and support a variety of end user needs, including multimodal person-to-person communication applications and integrations with business process applications (CEBP). This will also facilitate the service offerings of CSPs to business organizations to accommodate different vertical market needs of businesses and their customers/consumers.
This trend was reflected in a recent announcement by Genband, but just reinforced by HP’s announcement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona of their Open Networks Functions Virtualization (NFV) offering which provides all the tools needed by communication service providers to develop, integrate, test, and support operational network services in a Software Defined Network (SDN) environment. This will simplify and speed up the network connectivity required for all modes of contextual communications between people and online applications.
Since BYOD and CEBP will increasingly shift business communications to personalized multimodal devices and services, wireless CSPs are becoming the starting point for end users who want their latest smartphones and tablets to connect with both legacy PSTN contacts and IP services. Business communications now include consumers who interact with many different organizations and online applications, using a single, multimodal mobile device. That will become the key driver for network flexibility that Michael discusses in his post. 
Whether you want “UC” to mean “unified communications,” or as Microsoft has proposed at their Lync 2014 conference, “universal communications,” makes no difference. Users are just looking for the service that will be flexibly multimodal, can be used with any device anywhere, and can be used to interact with online mobile apps in the “clouds.”
For business applications, including customer services, communications will be flexibly embedded within online apps (‘click-for-assistance” options) and thereby become more efficient and “contextual” for both the contact initiator and the recipient. That is what “UC” is really all about!  
Copyright © 2014 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Friday, January 31, 2014

A UC Solution That Service Providers Can Offer To Any Size Business

Although multimodal communications (UC) software first began to appear, we all were excited by its ability to make us more productive; keeping us more efficiently and flexibly connected.  However, in some respects, it has also made business communications more complex. While legacy telephony was simply device-to-device calling, UC is more than person-to-person contacts at desktops or with mobile devices, it’s also about interactions with online applications and timely, proactive notification messages from business process applications. And, as my colleague at UC Strategies, Blair Pleasant describes, UC-enabled software is moving quickly to the “clouds.”
The big challenge facing any size organization is how to migrate from their legacy telephony systems to new “cloud” based UC software services that exploit multimodal Internet connectivity, rather than just the legacy voice PSTN. After all, why buy something new and get the same functional services? To date, most of the traditional service providers have not really offered a differentiated approach, making UC implementation and adoption slower than it could be.  However, GENBAND, a major vendor for service providers (they acquired Nortel’s carrier business in 2010) as well as large enterprises requiring carrier grade technology, has come up with a UC solution that might just increase adoption in both those big enterprises and SMBs.
GENBAND’s SMART OFFICE 2.0
GENBAND has just announced one of the first WebRTC-compatible UC solutions, SMART OFFICE 2.0. By focusing on browser-based clients they are opening up a new way to connect more than just people to people. The browser is already where we go for so many of our business self-service apps, along with all that e-mail and social media.  You start to see how organizations can leverage HTML5 and REST APIs to embed multimodal communications into the heart of business process workflow.  GENBAND says they are still working with partners on their approach to supporting multimodal customer service “Interaction Centers,” which will be highly dependent on WebRTC capabilities for flexible, “click-for-live assistance” options directly and contextually from online and mobile customer service apps.
In discussing GENBAND’s announcement of SMART OFFICE 2.0 and their Generation Enterprise framework, they indicated that they are using different channel partner strategies for different market segments. So, although not a familiar enterprise vendor name, they have come up with two channel partner approaches to support SMART OFFICE 2.0 implementations:
·      Enterprises and SMBs primarily interested in hosted UC can turn to their 700 service providers/carriers
·      Large multisite enterprises that want premises equipment or a tailored hosted solution can connect with their enterprise reseller channel.  That channel is already working with GENBAND to supports about 300 very large legacy Nortel customers that had carrier-class solutions deployed

Service Providers
GENBAND has a long history of supplying carriers with new networking technologies, including SIP Session Control and SBC’s for SIP Trucking/PSTN connectivity. What we see with SMART OFFICE 2.0 is a stronger move into communication application software, including Intelligent Messaging applications on their EXPERIUS application server. It supports multi-tenant requirements for cost efficient hosted/managed unified-messaging services in “public clouds.” So, GENBAND is ready to support their service providers to move gracefully from PSTN telephony services to multimodal UC offerings for any size business.
Installed Base Customers
Because GENBAND supports a significant number (300+) of very large Nortel enterprise customers, they had to create a solution that will avoid requiring massive replacement of existing desktop phones.  They had to complement those desktops with new mobile device interoperability and “mobile apps.” In addition, they can now offer WebRTC connectivity via the WAN and Internet, rather than just give users PSTN connections.
So, for their installed base of large customers in higher education, government, financial markets, and health care, GENBAND has come up with a cost efficient migration plan.  They are giving their channel partners a way to replace core communications hardware without having to replace all existing end user desktop telephones. Once that core hardware is in place, it is now open to exploit new software in private, public, or hybrid “clouds” for very cost efficient UC interoperability benefits.
The Convergence of Enterprise and SMB UC With Consumer Services
It will be interesting to see how these two channel partner strategies will work out, especially in extending GENBAND’s role of interoperability between enterprise-run technology and technology supported by the carriers for smaller businesses and, of course, consumers. I see the future “Interaction Center” for mobile customer services as a big bridge between the two domains, and I expect GENBAND to partner with leading, innovative contact center technology providers like Interactive Intelligence, to make such things happen in the new world of cloud-based, mobile, IP-based communications, that will exploit WebRTC. 

Copyright © 2014 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Multimodal Business Conversations In The "Cloud"

It is becoming very obvious that sharing and exchanging information, not just conversation, is what business communication is really all about. That means that people need to have access to relevant information in real time, while actively involved in a real time voice or video discussion. Telephony never could do that in the past, but moving communications to a "cloud” service is enabling that need to be fulfilled.
Regardless of who the end users are, whether internal employees, business partners, or even consumers/customers, but there will always be a need to dynamically reference and share common information by the parties involved in any kind of real-time conversation. Now that mobile smartphones and tablets have bridged the gap between person-to-person communication contacts and access to online apps, the path to information-enabled voice conversations between people has been opened.
Today’s announcement from PanTerra Networks about their Smartbox cloud service offering confirms the benefits of UC implementation as a “cloud” service, since they have carried the concept to a logical, higher level of interoperability in what they describe as “Unified Cloud Services.” PanTerra’s  “SmartBox” service combines UC applications with information content storage and file sharing services that lets users manage, search, and contextually initiate UC-enabled contacts from a single user interface in a single cloud.
Raising The Bar For UCaaS
Everyone is rushing to putting applications, data, and communications into public, private, and hybrid cloud environments, because they are really all becoming software based and serving a variety of multimodal mobile and desktop endpoint devices. So, just as UC is subsuming telephony communications, we are now seeing the next step as “cloud” applications subsume both information storage and UC.
With both information and communications all under one “cloud” roof, it will now be possible for end users to more fully manage all their business interactions and more easily correlate all their information exchanges with other people. So, it won’ be just “person-to-person” contacts that can be tracked, but also managing contact activities based on information exchanges as well.
While we at UC Strategies have always seen business communications increasingly involved with automated business processes (CEBP), the growing role of “cloud" data storage and file sharing, especially for mobile users, makes it practical to exploit UC options for exchanging such information. This kind of capability will be particularly useful when end users are “collaborating” by looking at common information and discussing it in their choice of communications (text, voice, video).
How Many “Clouds” Are Involved?
One of the objectives PanTerra had for developing their SmartBox offering was to minimize any unnecessary friction between communication applications and file sharing activities because of inconsistencies from different “cloud” services. By UC-enabling file sharing in a common “cloud” service, interoperability is simplified and less costly.
We are just entering the “cloud” era of online and mobile access to interactions with both people  and online information, and the standards for interoperability across “clouds” remain to be better defined for maximum efficiency and minimum costs. As service providers begin to offer more access to applications, information, and communications with people, we should see more interoperability develop, as was the case with the legacy PSTN for telephony. In the meantime, PanTerra’s SmartBox offering is a step forward in bringing real-time communications and information access closer together.    

Copyright © 2014 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

“Cloud” Services Open the Door to Multimodal Business Conversations


January 21, 2014
By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View/ UC Strategies Expert
It is becoming very obvious that information exchange, not just conversation, is what business communication is really all about. That means that people need to have access to relevant information in real time, while actively involved in a real time voice or video discussion. Telephony never could do that in the past, but moving communications to a "cloud” service is enabling that need to be fulfilled.
Regardless of who the end users are, whether internal employees, business partners, or even consumers/customers, but there will always be a need to dynamically reference and share common information by the parties involved in any kind of real-time conversation. Now that mobile smartphones and tablets have bridged the gap between person-to-person communication contacts and access to online apps, the path to information-enabled voice conversations between people has been opened.
Today’s announcement from PanTerra Networks about their Smartbox cloud service offering confirms the benefits of UC implementation as a “cloud” service, since they have carried the concept to a logical, higher level of interoperability in what they describe as “Unified Cloud Services.” PanTerra’s  “SmartBox” service combines UC applications with information content storage and file sharing services that lets users manage, search, and contextually initiate UC-enabled contacts from a single user interface in a single cloud.
Raising The Bar For UCaaS
Everyone is rushing to putting applications, data, and communications into public, private, and hybrid cloud environments, because they are really all becoming software based and serving a variety of multimodal mobile and desktop endpoint devices. So, just as UC is subsuming telephony communications, we are now seeing the next step as “cloud” applications subsume both information storage and UC.
With both information and communications all under one “cloud” roof, it will now be possible for end users to more fully manage all their business interactions and more easily correlate all their information exchanges with other people. So, it won’ be just “person-to-person” contacts that can be tracked, but also managing contact activities based on information exchanges as well.
While we at UC Strategies have always seen business communications increasingly involved with automated business processes (CEBP), the growing role of “cloud" data storage and file sharing, especially for mobile users, makes it practical to exploit UC options for exchanging such information. This kind of capability will be particularly useful when end users are “collaborating” by looking at common information and discussing it in their choice of communications (text, voice, video).
How Many “Clouds” Are Involved?
One of the objectives PanTerra had for developing their SmartBox offering was to minimize any unnecessary friction between communication applications and file sharing activities because of inconsistencies from different “cloud” services. By UC-enabling file sharing in a common “cloud” service, interoperability is simplified and less costly.
We are just entering the “cloud” era of online and mobile access to interactions with both people  and online information, and the standards for interoperability across “clouds” remain to be better defined for maximum efficiency and minimum costs. As service providers begin to offer more access to applications, information, and communications with people, we should see more interoperability develop, as was the case with the legacy PSTN for telephony. In the meantime, PanTerra’s SmartBox offering is a step forward in bringing real-time communications and information access closer together.    

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