Are we able to use unified communications and collaboration (UCC) tools on our mobile devices effectively in 2013? With the advent of bring your own device (BYOD) environments, what stage is the mobile collaboration market on?
In my opinion, we're not very far along. I think that with BYOD, if we're really going to use these collaborative tools better, then the nature of these applications needs to be better. For example, if I'm trying to do some work with you over a smartphone and I'm sitting still in an airport that has lots of bandwidth -- we should probably communicate over video. If I'm driving, I should probably use voice or chat over cellular. Mobile collaboration applications provide a lot of information about your location. The trouble right now is that the user has to pick the best method to communicate. They have to know if they have enough bandwidth or the right network connection, so the decision is up to the worker -- making the worker the integration point for the technologies.
Instead, the system should be smart enough to know each device is in motion and to then run an audio-only call. It would be ideal to be able to click someone's name to make a phone call, then evaluate the situation and decide what the best type of connectivity is. If you look at the specs in Session Initiation Protocol, the capability is all there, but it's a matter of putting it all together. We've currently been creating siloed applications (applications that do not interact with others) and dropping them in one at a time. We haven't yet thought about making this a unified experience -- which would be an evolutionary step in mobile collaboration. There's too much work on the user front end to make these things effective virtual collaboration tools. They need a lot more integration and automation by the vendors to make this happen.
This was first published in January 2013