Will Unified Communications be Eaten by Messaging?
UC vendors come at solving communications from the wrong angle, and this is going to be their downfall.
I've always hated the term "unified communications." I've also long hated "convergence," which predates UC, but somehow says the same thing. I also hate Microsoft's attempt at rephrasing UC to "universal communications."
To be honest, I think UC is rather dead. UC vendors come at solving communications from the wrong angle, and this is going to be their downfall.
Vendors are trying to win the enterprise communications market today with 3 different types of tools:
- Unified Communications -- focused on voice and video, attempting to encompass all communications in the enterprise by adding presence and instant messaging
- Project Management -- which are adding social messaging capabilities and, to some extent, voice and video chats
- Messaging -- which don't really exist in an enterprise, but are showing the way for companies the likes of Slack and other project management cohorts out there
The problem UC faces is that its core capabilities are transitioning fast from services into features -- bolt-ons placed over some other service.
UC vendors today care about the same things they did 10 years ago:
- Instant messaging
The enterprise is all about collaboration and efficiency today. As such, there's much more to be done than replacing the old telephony system and saying the word "video." Here are two tools that enable a transition to increased collaboration and greater efficiency:
HipChat, one of the services in Atlassian's war chest, offers chat and messaging for the enterprise. It is a lot more complex and rich than the presence and instant messaging found in UC products.
Last year, it decided to add the ability to use voice and video calling -- just so its users won't need to switch to Skype when they want to converse synchronously.
The result? Higher engagement of its users, and reduced need for an enterprise UC solution.
Here's Jonathan Nolen, Principal Product Manager at HipChat, explaining the process HipChat went through when integrating WebRTC:
Slack is a team communication service that is growing rapidly. Chris Kranky, Business Development Advisor at &yet, provided an overview of Stack in a recent blog post, so I'll spare you the long intro here.
What I find interesting is how others are integrating video chat into Slack. Communication service startup appear.in announced its Slack integration last month. The company appear.in is one of the pure WebRTC players out there that is offering video conferencing solutions. Now, why would you need UC when you are using Slack?
And thinking about it further, how hard will it be for Slack itself to add video calling into its service? The process is pretty much straightforward these days if you ignore the need for interoperability.
Read more about HipChat and Slack:
- The Email Killers: 10 Cloud-Based Team Collaboration Tools , by Brian Riggs
- Are We Wasting Money on UC?, by Irwin Lazar
- Addressing the Problem With Email, At Long Last, by Dave Michels
The paradigms of communications in the enterprise are changing. It is less about interoperability and unification and more about collaboration and messaging. This is posing a real challenge to UC vendors -- one they should not be ignoring.
Tsahi Levent-Levi will be speaking on this topic at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015 in the Monday session, "Will WebRTC Destroy of Enable the Communications Market?" Register to join him and discuss how WebRTC is impacting the UC and collaboration landscape.