Wednesday, November 19, 2014

'Unified communications' is coming

What is unified communication?

Entrepreneur Toby Ruckert knows what ‘unified communications’ is and you don’t have to spend much time with Toby—as I have recently done in Singapore--to believe the importance of what might be described as a movement--or perhaps migration is a better word--toward unified communication as a popular, if not indispensable, service.

Unified communication means bringing all our communication threads and sources (email, social media, chat and ‘check-in’ apps) together in one place.  And, that is what Toby’s company Unified Inbox does.  With 8,000 users waiting for beta versions, the popularity of the notion is significant and growing. 

Once communication sources are wrangled into a single inbox, users can manage all communications in one place, one screen.  Managing might mean ranking messages by importance, or grouping by source (people) or topics, or other meaningful criteria.  Such features are showing up more and more within a given medium.  See, for example, the proliferation of ‘filtering’ tools popping up.

G-mail users can request and get helpful analytics regarding your email use patterns.

Other applications, like Checky, Moment and Offtime allow you toggle off and otherwise manage your incoming media to get a digital break.    So, the ‘Filter Wars’ have begun.


Unified communications, however, goes beyond filtering within a single medium.   Unified communication services allow users to carry on conversations with friends or colleagues, who are each using different messaging media (say LinkedIn, Facebook, WeChat, SnapChat, etc.) without launching and re-launching different apps.  Users could cut and paste text across platforms, but bridging fractures and inconsistencies between communication streams is hard work.

Unified Inbox will ultimately allow organisations to 'unify' their communications and help interested users to improve their communication patterns and performance (effectiveness and efficiency).  The latter is a research project I am currently working on with colleagues in academia and industry.

2 comments:

Barry W (former student) said...

Very interesting! How would you see this impacting on work related vs. leisure communications or connectivity?

It doesn't specifically state it, but unity normally means 'one'...

For example, I actually like that I have a personal email and work email. I also like the differences between linkedin and facebook and certainly communicate on those two platforms differently...but perhaps others have different views.

Good luck with the study!

Larry Parent said...

This is a solution to a problem that has been creeping up on us. With a unified inbox I might find myself more willing to use and embrace more communication applications than I am willing to manage today. Good stuff.