In the ultimate paradox, we have spent the last several years untethering our workforces while technically intertwining our personal and professional lives. Yet, for many, the notion of BYOD often results in a feeling of being AWOL.
With 25 percent of knowledge workers out of the office on any given day, the ability to remotely connect back into corporate communications and collaboration tools can be a challenge. An unanswered phone, a text with no response or an instant message not instantly acknowledged is anything but unified, creating communications drag instead of speed. There has to be a better way.
We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore
We are about to enter an era of disruption where the enterprise isn’t just mobile but is holistically connected in an entirely new way, with applications and real-time communications tools that link technology and teams to the daily processes and workflows of professional lives.
At Mobile World Congress in March, GSMA forum discussions indicated that over the next few months the amount of IP traffic travelling across wireless networks will surpass the amount of IP traffic currently traversing wireline networks. This fixed and mobile market intersection, coupled with a series of new technology advancements, is creating a collision that will change the course of enterprise communications.
1. Now Arriving, Without Roaming Fees, Voice Over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi)
With last year’s launch of the iPhone 6, VoWiFi finally became a reality. Unlike over-the-top voice and video applications such as Skype or FaceTime, VoWiFi allows users to employ the same interface, features and phone number whether they are on a public cellular or a Wi-Fi network, giving enterprise users the same rich unified communications and collaboration resources wherever they are or wherever they go.
To make VoWiFi a reality, service providers are investing to build out new network capabilities with operators like T-Mobile, seeing the early opportunity to provide meaningful service differentiation to today’s weary and overcommitted professional. It is a long-awaited oasis where seamlessly staying connected becomes a reality.
2. M2M: Rise Of The Machines
M2M is core to the broad Internet of Things (IoT) movement and an era where the collision between man and machines occurs naturally, driving the flow of activities and processes organically. The emerging use of M2M solutions leveraging voice over IP through Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to manage devices ensures a formal connection between devices before any data is transmitted, guaranteeing the delivery of data in the same order in which it is sent.
By leveraging TCP, M2M devices can send an email or text message, or even make a phone call based on settings, enabling a world where a user would not only have a phone or laptop assigned to their online identity, but potentially a series of M2M devices able to respond with personalized content.
3. Wearables: Moving Beyond A Fashion Accessory
What started as a George Jetson-type conversation piece is rapidly moving to a price point and capability that will convert wearable technology into workplace technology. Access to wearable viewers, such as Google Glass, coupled with video cameras and vertical-specific applications is changing fields such as healthcare, retail, emergency services and hospitality.
The value of a connection between pacemakers and insulin pumps is obvious, but imagine a firefighter with access to building blueprints, residency information, temperature and other critical data available on a wearable viewer as they battle a blaze. Or a retail consultant who can offer a range of recommended clothes based on your prior purchases, color preferences or shoe size.
As for the hospitality sector, my summer plans include a trip to Disney World, where their MagicBand helps personalize the guest experience, ensuring Disney’s “cast” can greet you by name and know exactly what your preferences are as you make your way across the Magic Kingdom. The availability and adoption of wearables by enterprises can change the game by improving the efficiency of resources, differentiating the user or consumer experience through a more informed workflow process.
4. WebRTC: That Sure Doesn’t Sound Like Something I Need
WebRTC is an odd mashup of a word and an acronym, but it represents the transformative ability to bring real-time voice, video and other forms of collaboration to life via a simple browser without the need for a downloaded client or clunky plug-in. It offers an on-demand-type experience without the hassles of software updates or compatibility issues — helping to overcome the skill-testing question my son recently asked, “Why doesn’t Skype work with FaceTime?”
Enterprises looking to offer “click-to-connect” capabilities to their customers, employees or partners see WebRTC as a cost-effective way to complement their existing communications investments and improve the user experience. It is the ability to use voice, video and collaboration tools beyond the traditional walled-garden-constraints in many enterprises that sets up contextualization of communications.
5. Contextual Communications And The Amazon Factor
A new kind of social norm has surfaced in the last decade, where the applications we like best are the ones that know us. It is the Amazon factor — a tech-enabled/ego-driven relationship nurtured through personalization, context and real-time analytics that make routine decisions automatically about what to keep and what to filter, so that your next book is served up based on the last. Applications become even more entrenched when we add convenience to context.
For example, the ability to email a colleague directly from LinkedIn keeps me from having to toggle between applications, or as my daughter recently showed me on her Pinterest page, a built-in chat capability on a social platform.
When you combine click-to-connect capability alongside the resources, documents and tools that provide context to conversation, magic starts to happen, and, in the business setting, deepens real-time engagement, turbo boosting the efficacy of your enterprise’s communications and accelerating the flow of commerce.
Powering Connections Across The Mobile Enterprise
The emerging convergence enabled by these five technologies — VoWiFi, M2M, Wearables, WebRTC and Contextual Communications — will undoubtedly bring disruption to the technology landscape. It is the 21st century extension of Darwin’s natural evolution.
The opportunity created by the IP intersection of our physical world of smartphones, sensors and wearables with cloud capabilities, intelligence and real-time communications applications is evolving to reveal a more productive and more capable enterprise, one that finally unifies disparate platforms, applications and processes. Here’s to the future, in real time.