Today, for instance, a user who wants to comment to a team member on an ongoing project likely calls or sends an e-mail. In the future, they will be able to send an instant message from the BI program itself. The story says that IM is is the first collaborative app finding a home in BI platforms. We're sure it isn't the last.
We love being right. This move validates our view: Once IP became the Esperanto of the communications industry, just about everything was fated to converge. The only real question is how quickly this will happen. Each application starts at a different place and won't reach convergence nirvana at the same time. The underlying theme of the next few years will be the trek from the legacy world to that point.
This seems rather amorphous. That's because there are a tremendous number of applications that have to sort themselves out, and the technical ability to converge in many cases runs far ahead of the business rationale to do so. For instance, VoIP, instant messaging and short message service all started as discrete applications. They now are coming together under the unified communications umbrella.
At first, the applications may be tied together with baling wire and Scotch tape. Only after they prove attractive to the market will a deeper technical integration be undertaken.
Another reason that the path to convergence is so meandering is that the terms are imprecise. What does "unified communications" actually mean? Unlike Wi-Fi or Voice over Internet protocol -- names that clearly relate to specific technologies -- unified communications is a catch-all, open-ended phrase into which just about anything short of smoke signals and semaphore can be dumped. Business intelligence is the same sort of omnibus-type label.
This cross-pollination will continue for years. In the future, there essentially won't be any boundaries between applications. Indeed, the era in which unified communications is differentiated from business intelligence, Web conferencing and other categories will be seen as quaint.