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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

“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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