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Multimodal UC Collaboration – Now Includes Video for Desktop Conferencing

Technology headlines have been announcing new software products and services that support UC, using short, descriptive names that will appeal to individual end users and make UC’s person-to-person connectivity understandable. Most  recently, there was Microsoft’s big announcement in changing the name of it’s enterprise OCS (Office Communications Server) software to “Lync“  to symbolize easy, flexible, real-time contacts between  people.. Last September, Avaya took center stage with it’s push into multi-modal collaboration “experience” by offering it’s back-end connectivity for various forms of person-to-person contact applications under the label of Avaya Flare, but also a new front-end device for a convenient video conferencing interface.

Several industry pundits, have commented on the increasing role that technology product and service names are  playing in the UC market, especially as they focus on what individual end users do with the technology, because “UC” doesn’t really mean anything to an end user. Once they can see and experience useful functionality from new technology with a convenient, descriptive  name, then they will have something they can ask for and understand when they get it. So, that’s what’s starting to happen with new IP-based communications in general, and UC in particular.

What end users in the business communications market are getting first, are the changes that UC will be bringing to familiar, real-time, person-to-person voice telephony. These changes will include how telephony will integrate with use of other modes of contact (e.g., messaging) and multi-modal communication devices. While the software infrastructure has to integrate all forms of access and functionality across modalities of communication, it will be the multi-modality of user endpoint device form factors and user interfaces  that will dictate how end users will be able to exploit  the flexibility of UC for any application.

So, while Microsoft’s Lync is named to reflect what their software will handle in terms of connectivity and access, Avaya’s “Flare” announcement this week not only involves software clients for various desktop IP phones, but also included their own, desktop multi-modal video device that will support video-conferencing interactions as well. Avaya’s approach  can support multi-modal activities at the individual end user level, by providing both  current contact and presence information, but also  contextual information from previous contacts in the past.

While it is easy to see how person-to-person video conferencing can be included in UC contact options, as long as the involved users have suitable endpoint devices, one intriguing direction for Avaya’s Flare will be how video and other forms of media will be part of the user interface in an automated, self-service environment, just as the phone and speech is in legacy IVR applications. In fact, as long as we are talking about new names for technology,  I think it is time to change the traditional label for speech-oriented, telephone-based, self-service applications known as Interactive Voice Response (IVR), to the more comprehensive name of Interactive Multimodal Response or “IMR,” which will work well for both new screen-based desktop and mobile (”smart-phone”) devices.

Video conferencing lends itself also to a  new perspective on how UC works for the end user acting as either the contact initiator or a contact recipient, just as it does for telephone voice conferencing. .  With either form of conferencing, UC’s presence information capabilities will be necessary, as well enabling a mix and match of video conferencing with audio conferencing for different  individual participants.

Contact Rustyice Solutions today to discuss how these solutions can be applied to your business.


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