Into the UC&C Future, Dev Skills Required

A funny little story has surfaced out of CES this week about Amazon Alexa going rogue, telling the audience, “No, that’s not true,” as a Qualcomm executive talked up the capabilities of the company’s new car platform. You may laugh, and smirk… but perhaps fret a bit, too. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation -- whether served up as a digital voice assistant or in any other manifestation -- is becoming as integral to business technology as it is to consumer wares.
 
Consider the benefits, such as efficiency and productivity improvements, and the trend for enterprise IT is positive. But as UC consultant Beth English touched on in her recent No Jitter post, “Identifying Hidden Challenges Facing IT Infrastructure,” automation comes with a new set of challenges for IT leaders. Technology is one thing, organizational issues another.
 
Automation is changing the nature of the job, as English pointed out. She explained:
 
Previously, support roles such as PBX engineer, telephone technician, IT helpdesk, network engineer, architect, and server infrastructure were distinct functions. With the convergence of technology onto virtual and cloud-based platforms, there is more overlap between functions and therefore more cooperation required between them. For example, softphone and collaboration applications have links into Office 365 Calendar and Skype (Teams). At the same time, data center infrastructure support teams need to understand that real-time applications, such as voice and video, running on their virtual servers require a different support model than other applications. Equally important, with IP voice services running over the network, VLANs, E-911 requirements, and QoS require advanced and comprehensive engineering.
In her post, English went on to say that traditional job descriptions no longer fit the current situation. Looked at from another angle, traditional job descriptions may not hold much appeal for today’s job seekers.
 
As we solicited ideas for this year’s Enterprise Connect, one of our go-to enterprise contacts told us one of the challenges he had faced as an IT executive was finding diverse candidates for traditional UC roles. If those candidates had their druthers, he said, they’d go down a software or systems development career path.
 
Indeed, AI, automation -- the future -- is as much about programmability as anything else. Chunks of software need to be linked together, and one system needs to talk to another… and another and another. And this is becoming increasingly clear within UC&C as much as any other discipline -- whether or not job candidates (or their hirers) have yet acknowledged or embraced that direction.
 
As we’ve long discussed here on No Jitter and at our annual Enterprise Connect event, communications and collaboration technologies are becoming software-centric, and that’s changing the nature of the job. Enterprise IT executives are challenged to build out multidisciplinary teams comprising individuals who not only understand the ins and outs of real-time communications applications and infrastructure, but also know how to leverage communications APIs for advancing digital transformation goals. And while UC&C-related specialists adjust themselves to this API-driven future, they also must learn to work with business users keen on taking advantage of the very same programming capabilities to address their own needs.
 
At this year’s Enterprise Connect, taking place March 18 to 21 in Orlando, Fla., we’ll be discussing this challenge in a mainstage enterprise IT panel -- that’s how significant we feel this trend is. Be sure to block out on your schedule Monday, March 18, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., to hear from your peers in the session, “Empowering Your Organization for a Developer-Focused Future.” And if you haven’t yet registered, don’t miss out on the chance to do so at our lowest rate, which expires this Friday, Jan. 11. As a No Jitter reader, you can even save an additional $200 by entering the code NJPOSTS.
 
We hope you’ll be joining as at Enterprise Connect. But in the meantime, we’d love to hear how you’re addressing the challenge presented by a developer-focused future within your organizations. Please comment below, or email me.