Unified Communication Highlights

Bill Gates. Some hate him, some love him. I find him to be a sharp guy and consistent in his grasp of where the tech industry is heading.

On Monday, Bill sent out an email detailing his thoughts on Unified Communications. It's a good read and I highly recommend you check it out. You'll find overlap with previous posts here on Thoughts Abound, but Bill has a lot of good survey detail to strengthen his position. Here are the keepers I pulled.

"A decade’s worth of software innovation has transformed the workplace and empowered information workers to do their jobs with greater speed, effectiveness and intelligence. But communicating with colleagues and sharing information is still far too complicated."

Along with systems that don't talk to each other, part of the problem is lack of adoption of the various communication methods company wide. Instant Messaging is quite valuable but loses value as the people you need to talk with end up on other networks and clients. Solutions, like Jabber, exist to help, but in general, people aren't yet familiar with them.

"The irony is that rather than making it easier to reach people, the proliferation of disconnected communications devices often makes it more difficult and more time consuming."

You IM client can tell you when someone is away, but how many times do you send messages like "Are you there", even when you see they are Available? The Available indicator needs to be smarter. Is the person on the phone? Is someone in their cube? Do they appear to be deep within an email reply?

"Our goal is to integrate all of the ways we contact each other in a single environment, using a single identity that spans phones, PCs and other devices."

I know I'm wearing this post out, but I can't help but point to my post on communication identity when that's exactly what we are talking about. Sadly, I'm not sure Microsoft can convince people that they should be the single communication identity. Do you remeber Passport? That was about logging in. This goes a step further. They definitely have a challenge ahead of them.

"To get an idea of what the unified communications world will look like, watch the young people in your organization—particularly the ones who are fresh out of college."

Work extends to the home and personal life extends in to the work day. I fear that many companies look down on IM because "it's for chatting with friends and wasting time". That may be true and should certainly be curbed, but we can't let it be absent from our communication identity.

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