IBM this week released software that enables its Lotus Sametime UCC software to run on mobile platforms. That means the features, functions and benefits of unified communications on the desktop now can be had on a smartphone or other mobile device, giving employees productivity-enhancing capabilities no matter where they are.
On the surface, this sounds like a nifty idea. IBM, alongside Cisco, is one of a handful of vendors incorporating mobility elements into its UC strategy. And the thought of having the collaboration features of unified communications available on virtually any device makes sense in the evolution of both UC and the mobile workforce. We're ready for the technology, that's for sure.
But as much as we're ready, the mobile infrastructure is not. U.S. cellular backbones are having enough trouble handling the data that smartphones are flinging around. Add UC capabilities to the mix, and the results may not be pretty. The promise of anytime, anywhere data hasn't yet been fulfilled everywhere (ever try downloading a document on your smartphone while in the Pocono mountatins of Pennsylvania?), and the applications designed to increase productivity would only drag down a network further.
That's not to say that what IBM and other UC vendors that are adding mobile capabilities are doing is a bad idea. The fact that the technology is ready for primetime creates the motivation required for mobile device manufacturers, third-party software developers and other technology vendors to perfect and expand unified communications for mobility.
Once that happens, the infrastructure will be able to handle the extra data and users will have the positive collaborative experience they've come to expect with unified communications.