Communications Tools Increasingly Embedded in Other Platforms

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Unified Communications Converge with Social Networks

Results from a Yankee Group survey regarding the convergence of social media and unified communications.

One of the realities of a technical age is that the lines between formerly distinct processes and platforms blur until the only thing that truly separates them is the legacy thinking of people who matured in a previous age.

For instance, older folks who use social networks see it as an off-hours endeavor. Younger people see no distinction between social networking during business and non-business hours, since it simply is a way to communicate. Likewise, mobility is increasingly a core and central element of a communications platform, not a bolt-on as it was until the explosion of smartphones, tablets and 4G networks.

The same can be said for IT, telecommunications and smart energy. Those are distinct categories today championed by discrete companies. The odds are, however, that the ecosystems will coalesce, at least to an extent.

This is a gradual ongoing process. A small deal halfway around the world is a good example of the trend. Network World reports that Cisco is taking a minority position in the South Korean firm called KC Smart Services. The company is a subsidiary of telecommunications firm KT. Network World says that KCSS will provide managed services for smart buildings and smart city projects in January and will be capitalized for $30 million for Cisco and KT and use technology from both companies.

There are a lot of levels to this. One of the big ones is that advanced telecommunications and IT firms will increasingly deploy their technology as integral elements of platforms that are associated with other industries and sectors. This type of integration also can be seen in the unified communications trend of sinking communications functions in collaboration software.

The clearest example - along, perhaps, with health care - is home management. Verizon last month jumped into the sector. ZDNet offered details, which include the price ($9.99 per month), the requirement to use Verizon Internet and gear and Energy Control Kits that start at $69.99.

There is no shortage of new products and research that seems as if were thought up by Monty Python. As if to drive home the increasing cross-pollination, The Nest Learning Thermostat, from Nest Labs, is run by Tony Fadella, which PC World identifies as the "[f]ormer Apple iPod and iPhone hardware development chief." The device offers a raft of services, all of which of course come in a cutting-edge package. An overlapping business is home security. This week, Smith Monitoring introduced The Smart Home System, which provides control through a smartphone for home security, automation and energy management.

The bottom line is that the power of modern telecommunications platforms - and especially their mobile nature - means they will naturally migrate to within platforms, which start from outside the industry.

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