Unified communications technologies have been at least partially impacted by many of the trends that have started to take shape in the IT market throughout the past 10 years, and longer in some situations. For example, the birth of cloud computing had a direct effect on UC, with many companies quickly migrating their backend infrastructure into these novel environments and leveraging hosted, managed services rather than on-premise models.
This had a profound impact on the ways in which UC solutions are provisioned, managed and used, and continues to affect the average organization's collaboration frameworks. Then, mobility entered the stage, with smartphones, tablets, portable computers and specialized software all becoming commonplace in the enterprise. While mobility is sometimes treated separately from UC, the connections are obvious and boundless, especially considering the growing rate of companies that enable mobile access to Voice over Internet Protocol, instant messaging and video conferencing tools.
Looking forward, business leaders might be wondering what the Internet of Things will spell for their UC management frameworks and general opportunities involved in novel collaboration initiatives. Suffice it to say that the IoT will almost certainly play a major role in the future of corporate communications, especially as relevant devices have become more advanced and capable of hosting third-party apps. As such, the time to prepare for this trend is now.
The IoT and UC The best way to go about preparations is to first tackle the matter of the IoT, then work to integrate the policies and strategies into standing IT and UC frameworks. International Data Corporation recently listed some of the critical steps that need to be taken to ensure that the IoT is a beneficial trend, rather than one that disrupts companies significantly and yields major threats to security and continuity.
"The Internet of Things is enabling organizations to reinvent how they engage with their customers, helping them to accelerate the speed at which they deliver their products and services, and effectively reinventing industry processes," Carrie MacGillivray, an IDC vice president, argued. "However, achieving these results will require close collaboration between business and technology executives on goals and actions relative to IoT and the impact these will have on business initiatives and outcomes."
Perhaps not surprisingly, the analysts urged leaders to comprehensively control people, processes and technologies as they relate to the IoT, not leaving any stones unturned when creating policies that govern each category. What's more, the researchers believe that taking a safe approach to deployment that involves the establishment of initial projects to focus on, slowly spreading the IoT across lines of business and eventually reaching optimal performance, will be the best path forward.
"The Internet of Things is enabling businesses and IT to connect, transform, and innovate across all aspects of a company, thus becoming a key driver in the digital transformation discussion," added Vernon Turner, IDC fellow for the Internet of Things. "Having a road map to navigate this journey is critical given that new IoT eco-systems and business rules will demand companies to create highly customized customer experiences."
Improving prospects Once the company has established one of these road maps, it should strive to connect the dots between the IoT and UC. Centralization of management and control is arguably the most beneficial aspect of UC, especially when cloud-based services are being used, but handling collaboration-related matters separately will hold enterprises back from enjoying this advantage.
As such, working with the current UC provider to integrate the IoT strategy into other communications frameworks can help to improve the overall impact of the trend on every enterprise.