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Adding Communications to Context

Globally, there are less than 100 companies that manufacture enterprise communications switches that can connect to the PSTN. In contrast, The U.S. Commerce Department believes that there are over 100K software and IT services companies in the USA alone. We in the communications business believe that adding context to communications is the key to supporting successful business communications and collaboration. The reality is that enterprise employees spend their day immersed in context.

portableSome spend their day working with one or two databases or application interfaces to support the completion of their assigned tasks. Some spend their day working with 20 or 30 software or database interfaces. We in the communications industry believe that we can offer one telephone on each desk, and this will be the "go-to" interface for communications and collaboration. This way of thinking is soooo 1970s.

Enterprise employees live in contextual moments all day long. This context may be gleaned from one information system, from a combination of information systems, or maybe even an interaction with a customer or supplier. In many cases the reason for their employment is to rationalize this context -- else we would not need their brains. We could just feed data into one big computer, and all the information that would be created would be relevant and timely. But this is not how things are in the real world.

Rich context is available every day to every enterprise employee. Email allows for linkage to context in ways that can never be achieved with real-time communications. "Copy and paste" is probably the most underrated function in all of computing when it comes to context, but there is no equivalent for RTC.

We in communications have been adding context to communications for the last 24 years, and we are still trying to perfect it. Outside of meetings, enterprise employees spend 5 to 7% of their day on the phone -- some less. Real-time communications happen when there is a contextual mismatch within the multiple information systems that they spend 70 to 80% of their time interacting with.

I submit to you that the reason we are still trying to attach context to communications is that we cannot get it right. And further, the reason that we cannot get it right is that we, the communications industry, cannot keep up with the diversity of the transactions that enterprise employees have to monitor or create on a minute-to-minute basis. This is the reason for so many software creators. They can keep up with the changing demands of enterprises, and if they don't, another one will!

RTC is changing this dynamic. The decades of trying to add context to communications are over. It is now time to add communications to context! The software business recognizes this, and they are charging into this gap with vigor. My company recently signed a software company that offers military-grade security for file and content storage. They will be embedding our RTC tools in their interface and charging their customers for usage.

Not real sexy, but it's 12 million seats. That's 12 million users who will not need to reach for their phone when they want to tell their colleague that they just posted a new piece of content. It works inside and outside of the corporate firewall. They can see their colleague's presence and alert them via the media that they choose. That's 12 million users who will not need a PBX or a PSTN connection to complete their tasks. They have all of the context that they need without the painful process of trying to get their communications staff to build them a CTI application. Further, as these types of implementations expand, they reduce the relevance of the PSTN and the PBX.

The age of attaching context to communications is drawing to a close. It is being replaced by the ability to add communications to context. Contact centers may hold onto this 24-year-old concept for a little longer, but they too will eventually succumb to the relentless drive of the software creator.

This is the most disruptive moment for telecommunications in 140 years. It is time for new strategies. Are you ready for the challenge?

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