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Saturday, February 23, 2008

What Do Users Really Want For Mobile UC?

February 21, 2008

In-Stat Survey Claims User Resistance to Converged Mobile Devices

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Market research firm, In-Stat, just came out with the results of a survey that claims that business end users won’t be rushing to use “converged” mobile devices, because they are too comfortable (“loyal”) with their traditional cell phones and PDAs. The main reason for this delay will be practical considerations like poor ergonomic designs and poor battery life. On the other hand, says In-Stat analyst, Bill Hughes, “The smartphone is a successful example of a converged device,” because it enables a mobile phone to also handle wireless email (with an obviously different user interface).

UC Needs More Than Just Multiple Interfaces

I have long suggested that a key factor for UC adoption would be the convergence of visual and voice user interfaces to control all forms of messaging communications as well as for voice conversations on a single endpoint device. That could be via a desktop PC “softphone,” but, more usefully, on handheld mobile devices. The latter would provide the personalized flexibility that end users will need while moving dynamically between different work environments, where either voice or visual communication interfaces may be most practical.

Please note that I don’t mean a “single” user interface, but rather a choice of interfaces on a single device. That would allow the individual user to dynamically choose the appropriate interface for:

· Initiating a new business contact

· Retrieving a contact

· Responding to a received contact

Clearly, the decision for choosing the modality for initiating a communication or for receiving it will rest with the end user who has control over the device, but such choice may be limited by other considerations, including:

· Communication environments

· Device capabilities

· Needs of the other party

So UC is a means of providing maximum flexibility for individual end users to communicate as efficiently as possible, regardless of any technology differences between them and the other communicants. That’s a bit different than saying that everyone has to have the exact same devices and communication tools as the other people they need to communicate with.

Another Important Point of Communication Convergence

However, a second point of convergence for communications is the contact address or phone number associated with the recipient’s mobile device. This is where a single device will be associated with two (or more) different addresses, e.g., one for business and for personal (consumer) contacts. This is not a new concept, having seen this demonstrated several years ago by Avaya as their “Extension-to-Cellular” capability that allowed a user’s cell phone to function as their office desk phone for both initiating and receiving phone calls. In addition, the same device had a separate, personal (consumer) phone number supported by the wireless carrier that provided the mobile device.

In-Stat did not appear to research end user interest in having a single device support both personal and business contacts. Although users won’t really be able to converse with two parties simultaneously (unless it is a conference call), it would still be useful to enable unified call management for both business and personal calls. And, when responding to any message comes into the picture, the ability to do a real-time callback for any important message will certainly be convenient and efficient if done with a single interface for business or personal contacts.

Just as presence management has to be a converged layer of control over all forms of contact availability, so, too, does the next generation of mobile device have to support all interfaces for contact management and communication.

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