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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Mobile UC And The PSTN?

The PSTN is still actively in use but Mobile UC and the Internet is slowly but surely changing the way we work and do business, especially the role of telephony. In addition to enabling business users to dynamically make contact and exchange information in a variety of modes (real-time voice/video, chat, asynchronous messaging, social messaging, automated notifications, etc.) with a single, multimodal, mobile device, they also benefit from having direct access to information, online business applications, and having “contextual” information relating to the people they contact and the subject matter they have been communicating about. The PSTN cannot do all of this, but it will be around for a while to support legacy telephony users.
The increased use of the Internet for both information access and contacts with people means that business activities will become more time-efficient because of the increased flexibility and accessibility of all types of end users involved in business process performance. This, in turn, will require all organizations to be more responsive to day-to-day operational situations and to support a variety of individual end user communication needs.    
Although multimodal mobile devices are enabling real-time voice and video connections between people to include the exchange of information (messages, documents, video clips, etc.) during a voice or video conversation, mobile users may not necessarily be immediately available for a real-time connection, thus requiring the use of multimedia messaging options (voice, video, text).
Key Mobile UC Trends
1.  The choice of mobile devices for both business and personal use is increasingly becoming the responsibility of the individual end users, better known as “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD. 
End users will choose the mobile devices they prefer to use for all their communication contacts, whether job-related, business-related, or personal and social. Business organizations must support their end users’ desire to carry a single mobile device that can securely accommodate all their mobile contacts and interactions. That will require that such mobile devices are able to securely separate access to job-related connections from personal connections, where the job-related connections are fully controllable by the organization.
The multimodal mobile devices will also facilitate the user’s ability to dynamically change from one mode of communication to another, e.g., from a message to an IM text chat to a voice or video call, to a group conference connection, while still retaining access to the same “contextual” information about all interactions.
2.  Multimodal mobile devices enable all modes of end user contacts with people and notifications from automated business applications.
Smartphones and tablets are not limited to just person-to-person communications, but are also practical for receiving timely notifications from authorized business process applications. The latter can also provide a convenient way for recipients to respond to a notification by providing a connection to a person, a service provider’s staff, or a link to a self-service application. 
3.  Mobile access to people and applications is best provided through “cloud” connectivity for interoperability and integrations.
Because mobile users may be located wirelessly anywhere, and require flexible choices in how they can communicate with others, it is most practical to provide such services through wireless IP networks that are not dependent on legacy premise-based servers. “Cloud” services, whether hosted, private, managed, or hybrids, offer the flexibility of mobile access as well as centralized points of integration that can support a variety of different end user needs anywhere, anytime, any way. 
Such mobile flexibility will change the way people access information (e.g., check their bank accounts), perform direct online transactions (e.g., make payments), initiate flexible text/voice/video contacts with other people (e.g., “click-to-connect” contextually from a document, message, web site), attend online school courses, take tests, and interact with teachers at all levels of education, make health care more efficient and timely through mobile monitoring devices, notifications, and video conferencing.
4.  Personalized, contextual information (data) can be exploited in “cloud” storage for greater access by mobile devices and mobile applications. 
The “clouds” are not only practical for providing access to mobile applications, but also provide storage for contextual information about individual users and their online activities. Such contextual data is not only useful for applications to personalize interactions with end users, but will also provide more contextual information to a contact recipient than traditional “caller ID” data. This can include mobile user location information and availability (federated presence).
With personalized contextual data stored in “cloud”-based applications, mobile devices can now become virtual personal assistants that can dynamically and automatically provide practical information to an end user, whenever an online application is invoked, or whenever the user’s physical location detected by the network triggers the need for information exchange.
 5.  Millennial users expect “always on” connectivity and flexible and dynamic control over inbound and outbound communications with people.
Younger generation users are accustomed to communicating from anywhere with smartphones or tablets, as well as through wearable devices (smart watches, glasses) in their modality of choice. In particular, they can be multi-tasking by texting or talking with others, while looking up or exchanging information.
Using texting instead of voice conversation will be particularly important to mobile users who want to maintain maximum privacy for their communications in public places, when the environment is too noisy, or when speaking would be disruptive to their current activity (e.g., sitting in a meeting). In addition, such users will want any voice messages automatically transcribed to text for faster retrieval.
With mobile UC and a multimodal mobile device, users will always be able to escalate their mode of person-to-person communication from any form of messaging to a real-time voice or video connection, while also accessing information and performing online transactions.
Bottom Line
Every organization must be prepared to support their different types of end users with all forms of communication contact that will also be contextually integrated with information. This need will be driven by user mobile BYOD, as well as in the interests of increasing business process performance efficiency and reducing both operational and technology costs.
The big challenge will be how to migrate easily and cost effectively from a variety of legacy telephony communications and messaging technologies to the multimodal, “mobile first” future of business interactions between people and business process applications in the “clouds.” Technology providers who have long specialized in supporting telephony integrations and interoperability, such as AVST, will be best equipped to combine the new demands of mobile UC with existing telephony functions such as auto-attendants and voice mail.     

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