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A New Paradigm in Unified Communication

By Brian Kracik, Director, Cloud Services & Product Marketing, Oracle Corporation

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Brian Kracik, Director, Cloud Services & Product Marketing, Oracle Corporation

Emerging Technological Challenges:  

There is a lot of excitement surrounding unified communications (UC) in the industry today. And while enterprises are trying to tie their devices and applications together in a truly integrated way, they have yet to bring this technology to life. There is a slow transition underway as businesses move from pure voice-centric communications to a cohesive infrastructure supporting video, web, email, and instant messaging.
 
“With WebRTC, enterprises can enjoy all the benefits of browser-based communications without sacrificing security, availability, or service quality”
 

However, their users are still forced to flip from one application and client to another as they multi-task across email, conference calls, IM, web conference, and mobile voice. And while there is much promise to combining these capabilities through UC,it also presents concerns over security, connectivity, and control as enterprises strive to bridge basic web capabilities with these new services.

WebRTC is an emerging internet standard that equips any smart device with a native application or a supported web browser with real-time communications (RTC) capabilities such as voice calling, video, or screen sharing via simple application programming interfaces (APIs) without requiring users to download plug-ins. WebRTC enables enterprises to enjoy all the benefits of browser-based communications platform and network independence, faster service deployment, lower costs without sacrificing security, availability, or service quality. 

Better integration of existing services will greatly improve the UC platform for enterprises and help to alleviate some of the challenges associated with this transition. Operators must enable customers to manage all communication through one platform and aggregate their existing communications into one service, which keeps messages and contacts in-sync across multiple access points, websites, and applications. Integrating networks with UC platforms using WebRTC will fully support new messaging services and give users anytime, anywhere communication availability increasing employee productivity and enabling enterprises to gain a competitive edge in the market. 

Technological Trends:  

Cloud computing and WebRTC are two trends that enterprises are slowly beginning to adopt as a part of their UC platforms.  Executives feel an intense pressure to innovate their business using technology, while also cutting costs and increasing operational efficiency. Consider the amount of communication required for employees to set up a simple conference call or worse, a video conference. The employee has to coordinate schedules, manage multiple email exchanges to arrange a time, and set up the conference line itself. There is a lot of context switching as enterprises move across applications and end points increasing the cost of collaboration and decreasing employee productivity. 

 A converged UC solution that enables multi-modal communication on diverse end points can greatly enhance employee value and a company’s return on investment. Using cloud to deliver these services greatly enables businesses to offer a wide range of high value offerings including multi-screen; multi-modal unified communications; connected devices; advanced customer care; and more. 

One cloud trend that can greatly impact enterprises is the social cloud.  Social media is everywhere today, even in businesses: employees are using Facebook to send messages across the enterprise, Twitter to talk about the latest new products, and instant messenger to instantaneously reach their colleagues. The social cloud is an integration of cloud-based services with traditional communications and social media channels. This integration enables users to see buddy lists with presence information as well as the contact’s location and device, and give users the ability to automatically launch communications across the proper medium be it SMS, instant message, or email based on their colleague’s status.  Being able to navigate multi-vendor environments both inside your own enterprise and with the outside world is critical to enabling presence to be federated so colleagues know the best form of contact to reach each other whether they’re at the computer and can send it there or away at a meeting and send it to the mobile device. Convergence into a single client enables the anytime, anywhere solutions so many employees wish to see in their work atmosphere, all of which can be done through a cloud-based UC platform. 

We believe that by 2025 80 percent of all enterprise applications will be consumed through the cloud and communications is heading down the same cloud path. The benefits to adopting unified communications in the cloud are endless, but it is more than just adopting the cloud delivery model, it is about enabling communications across and within cloud and non cloud applications. Cloud IT implementations aren’t as slow and risky as legacy on-premises systems, so even very involved, core IT projects can be completed in months instead of years.  More importantly, companies now realize they must adapt to changing business models in the digital era. Their processes, performance metrics, channels, and data needs are all evolving fast, and business leaders won’t tolerate slow legacy systems that can’t keep up with their customers’ demands. Work is no longer just a place people go, but rather what they do.  Work extends beyond the hours of 9 to 5 and employees need the flexibility to access the information and applications they need anytime, anywhere. Cloud enables enterprises to provide their employees with the ability to communicate in real-time, from any device. With access to information at the tip of their fingers, employees can increase productivity, greatly benefitting the enterprise.  

As discussed above, WebRTC equips any smart device with a native application or a supported web browser with real-time communications (RTC) capabilities such as voice calling, video, or screen sharing via simple application programming interfaces (APIs) without requiring users to download plug-ins. With WebRTC, enterprises can enjoy all the benefits of browser-based communications without sacrificing security, availability, or service quality. Just like with cloud, WebRTC enables web tools to have RTC capabilities which fully support new messaging services such as instant messaging applications. WebRTC even gives users anytime, anywhere communication availability by enabling native applications on mobile devices to remove dependence on web browsers providing enterprises with a competitive edge in the market. 

In short, using cloud with a UC platform enables a seamless communications experience across the enterprise from voice, video, messaging, screen sharing, and more. Cloud and WebRTC will have a significant impact on enterprise business environments and UC platforms by creating the enterprise of the future seamlessly connecting fixed and mobile users to each other, enabling rich multimedia employee interactions, and automating business processes for significant increases in productivity, efficiency, and ROI.

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