The various tapestries of communications options available in the workplace are being rapidly woven together. As one example, Research In Motion (RIM) recently announced the Mobile Voice System to integrate BlackBerry devices into office phone systems.
On Monday, Microsoft said it and various partners will release a new generation of phones and other devices that will connect to e-mail, instant messaging, real-time presence information, VoIP, and mobile platforms. The announcement, the latest development in Microsoft's "unified communications" strategy, was made at the Microsoft Hardware Engineering Conference in Los Angeles.
The device manufacturers, including LG-Nortel, NEC, Plantronics, Polycom, Samsung, ASUSTek Computer, GN, Tatung, and ViTELiX, have been working with design specs so that they can make their hardware compatible with the public beta program of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. They will release 15 devices in all, beginning Tuesday.
'Marooned on an Island'
Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, said in a statement that office phones are "marooned on an island," cut adrift from other communications tools.
"By weaving the business phone together with e-mail, instant messaging, presence, conferencing, and the productivity software people use most," he said, "we are putting voice communications back into business."
This whole area is a "megatrend," said IDC analyst Sean Ryan, who said we are going to be seeing a wave of efforts like the RIM announcements to simplify the "spider web" of communications tools.
"Everybody recognizes that this makes sense for the enterprise," he noted, as various companies try to integrate messaging in the cell phone, messaging in the desktop phone, multiple instant-messaging clients, and workplace communications tools spread across a variety of devices. "There are a lot of moving pieces" to this overall picture, he said.
'Most Value for Less Cost'
Microsoft and RIM are addressing the problem from their own perspectives, he noted, as will many other companies. Ryan said that while there are efforts from Skype and others to establish mobile VoIP outside of the workplace, he expects Microsoft's and others' implementation of enterprise VoIP to be restricted to the workplace for the time being, because of security issues.
Microsoft said its communications strategy uses an open approach with published software interfaces, and that the devices in the unified communications strategy program will be able to provide a plug-and-plug experience out of the box, a "Just Works" experience.
There will be several devices in the initial crop, including IP phones, USB phones, wired and wireless headsets, conferencing phones, and laptops. Because there will be many choices and enterprises will be able to buy devices for specific kinds of workers, the company said, businesses will be able to receive the "most value for less cost."
Information for businesses interested in participating in the beta tests is available at microsoft.com/uc.
Posted: 2010-09-22 @ 11:25pm PT
Unified communications gives companies a more effective way to communicate all while reducing the cost of telecommunication!