Unified Communications: Click to talk

Jun 27 2009   12:53PM GMT

Resistance is Futile

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

You will be assimilated (for those perhaps not as nerdy as me- that is a Star Trek reference to The Borg).

That is sort of how new technologies work. Instant messaging went from IRC (Internet Relay Chat) used primarily by uber-geeks, to services like AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) embraced by consumers, and eventually to platforms like Microsoft Office Communications Server providing instant messaging capabilities in the enterprise.

Perhaps you can relate to this. I know people who rejected my overtures to connect on LinkedIn. They didn’t want to join and fought the tide. Then eventually I get an email asking me to join their LinkedIn network. Ironically, many of those same friends told me they refused to join Facebook. They already had LinkedIn, so what was the point? Fast forward a few months and I am getting Facebook friend requests from these people. Then it was Twitter. Now all of those people who said that they wouldn’t join the silly networking service that only allows 140-characters per message are watching how it has transformed International politics and media in the recent post-election protest violence in Iran and thinking “maybe there is some value to that after all?”

In fairness, there have been a number of lesser services that have not reached the popular acceptance of Facebook or Twitter: Plaxo, Spock, Friendster, etc. so I can understand approaching new technologies with caution or a healthy dose of skepticism. But, those that achieve the critical mass necessary eventually go from fringe uber-geek technology, to popular consumer technology, and then to a business tool embraced by enterprises.

There is some overlap though between the features and functions of some of these services and the functionality delivered by unified communications. Can social networking be leveraged as a ‘poor man’s unified communications’? Do enterprises have to choose one or the other? Or, will there be some sort of convergence of services that enable the two worlds to peacefully co-exist in the enterprise?

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