Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Unified Communications: Changing the Way We Work and Learn

It's been more than a couple of days since my last post - I was in Philadelphia for the American Association of Community Colleges Annual Convention. Great convention and always so good to reconnect with community college friends from around the country. We had a large National Science Foundation ATE Center contingency there with representation from 14 Centers along with the National Science Foundation.

At the conference, there was a lot of conversation about Web 2.0 applications and how they can be used in the classroom and workplace. I found myself often indirectly referring to an excellent Marketwire post titled
IBM Predicts Five Future Trends That Will Drive Unified Communications

The post lists five future trends predicted by IBM Lotus General Manager Mike Rhodin in his VoiceCon 2008 Conference keynote address. Here's what Rhodin says will increase demand for the fast-growing unified communications market and reshape the way businesses and workers communicate and collaborate worldwide:

1) The Virtual Workplace will become the rule. No need to leave the office. Just bring it along. Desk phones and desktop computers will gradually disappear, replaced by mobile devices, including laptops, that take on traditional office capabilities. Social networking tools and virtual world meeting experiences will simulate the feeling on being there in-person. Work models will be changed by expanded globalization and green business initiatives that reduce travel and encourage work at home.

2) Instant Messaging and other real-time collaboration tools will become the norm, bypassing e-mail. Just as e-mail became a business necessity, a new generation of workers has a new expectation for instant messaging (IM) as the preferred method of business interaction. This will fuel more rapid adoption of unified communications as traditional IM becomes the core extension point for multi-modal communications.

3) Beyond Phone Calls to Collaborative Business Processes. Companies will go beyond the initial capabilities of IM, like click-to-call and online presence, to deep integration with business processes and line-of-business applications, where they can realize the greatest benefit.

4) Interoperability and Open Standards will tear down proprietary walls across business and public domains. Corporate demand for interoperability and maturing of industry standards will force unified communications providers to embrace interoperability. Converged, aggregated, and rich presence will allow businesses and individuals to better find and reach the appropriate resources, removing inefficiencies from business processes and daily lives.

5) New meeting models will emerge. Hang up on routine, calendared conference calls. The definition of "meetings" will radically transform and become increasingly adhoc and instantaneous based on context and need. 3-D virtual world and gaming technologies will significantly influence online corporate meeting experiences to deliver more life-like experiences demanded by the next generation workers who will operate more efficiently in this familiar environment.

It's happening - this is where work is going and we must keep pace in our classrooms to properly prepare our students.

You can watch Mike Rhodin's keynote by clicking here and get more information on what he and the IBM Lotus group are doing at
: http://www.ibm.com/lotus/uc2

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