Enterprise Mobile Computing: IBM Websites, Social Sites, White Papers and Reports

mobility It’s hard to talk to an enterprise customer these days without getting into a discussion about Mobile Computing. Every day more and more mobile devices are being shipped to enterprise workers, who are increasingly using these devices (instead of laptops and desktops) in order to perform their daily business activities.

Mobile is a key part of the new computing platform going forward.  IT leaders need to be out in front of this disruptive shift and understand how it impacts the way work is done at their company.  Some key mobile technology sub-trends to watch in 2013 include Voice Search, Voice Assistants, Location Based Services, Gaming, Event-Based Marketing, and Augmented Reality.  And within the next few years we will see innovations in Mobile Video and 3D Mobile Internet.   For a view into potential applications five years for now, see the recently announced IBM 5 in 5 predictions.

All this has implications for IT skills and business processes throughout the organization.   CIOs and IT leaders will want to understand how mobile fits into their organization’s unified communications strategy as well as the enterprise-wide collaboration and social business strategy.  The increasing use of Smartphones and tablet computers as personal and business tools has brought organizations and their employees new levels of productivity, flexibility and mobility. However, their use is a double-edged sword, bringing with it new levels of complexity to IT management and security.

To help you learn more about the enterprise mobile computing trend, the following is a list of IBM websites related to Mobile computing trend.  Included are links to IBM websites, social sites, and white papers/reports. 

IBM Websites 

  • IBM Portal: 
    • Why Mobile Enterprise – Overview of the importance of the mobile enterprise trend
    • Why IBM – tabs for “Build & Connect”, “Manage and Secure”, “Extend and Transform” and “Events” that provide information about IBM’s focus on the mobile enterprise trend as well as resources and events to learn more.
    • See it in action – Case Studies of companies that have implemented mobile enterprise solutions
    • Offerings –  Offerings categorized under “Build & Connect”, “Manage and Secure”, “Extend and Transform” and “Mobile Services” provides information on IBM offerings in the mobile enterprise market
    • Developer Resources –  Information for mobile app developers
  • IBM Services: 
  • IBM Software
  • IBM Research:  Research Mobile Computing describes IBM Research and it’s focus on mobile computing
  • IBM Press Kit:  IBM and the Mobile Web  provides background information and press articles

IBM Accounts on Social Platforms

IBM White Papers

Consumerization of IT / BYOD: IBM Websites, White Papers and Reports

byod Business Professionals are in fact consumers.  And consumers today have more choice, more flexibily, and more options in the devices that they use to access the Internet every day, including smartphones, tablets, and personal laptops.   Consumers are using these devices to access the new applications and social networks that they use to connect with each other for both personal and business reasons.  As that technology spills over into their professional lives, the line between the personal and the professional is blurring.

It’s no surprise that Business Professionals want to use the same technology at work as they use at home.    However, while consumer technology offers some great potential benefits for the business, it also represents added risk in terms of security, privacy, and compliance.  So IT leaders need to strike a balance between the desires of users and the requirements of the enterprise.

IBM has a bunch of content available to for you to learn more about this trend.  Below you will find links to the most current IBM reports, websites, and social accounts related to the social business trend.  The reports and sites listed below are all hotlinked.  If you see something that is missing, let me know and I will revise this post.

BYOD-Related Websites by IBM

BYOD-Related Social Media Sites

BYOD-Related IBM White Papers and Reports

BYOD-Related IBM Presentations

Yankee Research: 2013 Mobile Predictions

Yankee I attended the Yankee Research annual 2013 Mobile Predictions webinar yesterday.   Four analysts presented a total of ten predictions during the webinar.  The overall message was that the mobile ecosystem, which includes devices, applications, networks, mobile transactions, etc., will continues to grow in 2013.  There is an ever-increasing global consumer and business demand for mobile capabilities and the providers in the mobile ecosystem are all trying to meet that demand.  The market is by no means mature so there is lots of disruption as providers try to deliver products and services that are valued in the marketplace. 

The following four mobile industry experts from Yankee Research provided their thoughts on the top ten predictions for 2013

1.  Operators will lose US$1 Billion per month in voice/messaging revenue in 2013.   Yankee says that changes in mobile offerings, customer behavior and the mobile industry in general will result in a significant drop in voice / messaging revenue.  However, Yankee says that fortunately the loss will be offset by a boost in data and that going forward, winners will be those providers that launch their own apps that focus on data streams.

2. By year end, all mobile operators will be either “digital lifestyle solution providers” or a “digital value bit ‘mover’ providers”.  Both strategies are valid but ruled by different dynamics and Yankee believes that providers must pick one or the other strategy.  For Digital Lifestyle, the market will start segmenting as providers offer mobile solutions for different types of people who have different needs.   Winners will be big global players and startups that develop creative approaches to generating incremental revenue.  Losers will be those providers that don’t realize that they need to act now to carve out new business units.  Also, operators that kill margins with high marketing and device subsidy costs will be on the loosing end.

3.Small cells will stumble.   2014 will be a better year than 2013 for small cell providers.  Tariffs influencing end-users to avoid mobile broadband for video will strip much of the economic rationale for extensive small cell deployment in the near term, calling into question expectations for rapid market uptake.   Suppliers need to expand their focus on standards.  Operators should continue to experiment with small cells.   Winners will be large scale firms that can handle both macro and micro offerings like Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawai and Nokia Siemens Networks.  Losers will be smaller firms like Pure Wave and ip.access

4.  At least one operator will launch turbo-boosting service in 2013.  Data and analytics will drive new offerings.  As more operators look to real time analytics tied to network data to speed the creation, delivery and monetization of unique product and service bundles, they will begin to learn from customer expectations and be able to track monitor and respond to any change.  As a result they will embark on new services, such as turbo-boosting, enabled by insight drawn from the advanced analytics.   Winners will be vendor who can enable real-time data analytics like Nokia Siemens Networks, Openet, Medio Systems, Amdocs, AT&T, Verizon and Orange.   Losers will be firms like Teradata, Oracle and SAP who don’t have real-time analytics capability

5.  By year end Google will start subsidizing Mobile Payments Credit/Debit Transaction Fees.    Expect some shifts in the mobile payments industry in 2013 as Google enters the mix with it’s strong advertising capabilities.  In 2013, Google needs to find ways to entice merchants to accept its mobile wallet solution.  Paying merchant transaction fees (from it’s advertising revenue stream) could prove to be very persuasive.   If this does happen, it will disrupt the current payment ecosystem.  Winners will be Google.   Losers will be current providers PayPal, LevelUp, Square and Isis who can not scale up.

6.  A cloud based mobile payment system will see a significant data breach in 2013.   Criminals are waiting in the wings waiting for the right opportunity to exploit mobile.  So far attacks have been muted only due to the lack of scale.  Yankee sees a perfect storm in 2013 caused by ubiquitous Smartphone usage, 24×7 connected devices and consumer naiveté.  Yankee predicts at least one of the major mobile payment schemes will fall prey to a successful hack.  Yankee says the victim will most likely be a cloud player since it presents criminals with them most lucrative risk/reward ratio.   Winners will be the criminals (at least in the short term).  Losers will be the consumers, merchants, and the payments industry overall.  Consumer education will be key to overcome this threat.

7.  More than 50% of Companies look to the cloud for their mobile app developments.  Cloud continues to be an important trend.  Yankee says that demand side pressures and supply-side innovations are accelerating enterprise deployments of mobile applications in the cloud.  Next year, Yankee expects the majority of enterprises will be deploying their applications using software as a service (SaaS) as opposed to on-premise software.  Winners will be companies with mobile strategies in place, cloud app providers, and mobile cloud platform providers and developers.   Losers will be enterprises and vendors without a cloud strategy.

8.  Microsoft Windows store will abandon 70-30 split and registration fees in 2013.  In 2013, competition between the app storefronts will turn red hot and Yankee expects Microsoft will be a big player.  Yankee says Microsoft will entice developers to its store by breaking with the standard app store-to-developer business terms.   Winner will be MS, Losers could be Google and independent app stores. 

9.  2013 will mark the first year that Android Smartphone market share will decline in the U.S.   Stronger competition from Apple, MS, and even RIM will result in pressure on the Android market including devices and developers.  Yankee says growth in the Android marketplace will slow and even decline in 2013.  Winners will be Apple & MS.  Losers will be those in the Android ecosystem.

10.  In 2013 M2M Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO)s will feel the squeeze as operators get serious about machine to machine (M2M) market.  As Tier 1 operators ratchet up their attention on M2M networks to help drive new revenue, specialist MVNOs will feel the heat as they evolve from friend into foe.  Expect some smaller MVNOs to be acquired.   Winners will be the larger scale firms like AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telkom, Sprint, Orange, Vodafone, China Mobile and Telefonica.  Losers will be the smaller upstarts like Aeris Communications, CrossBridge Solutions, M2M DataSmart, Numerex, Wyless and Kore Telematics

A more detailed report is  be available from Yankee Research.  Registration for the report is at http://web.yankeegroup.com/report2013predictionsregistration.html.  I’d also recommend checking out the Yankee Research blog at http://blogs.yankeegroup.com/ for mobile ecosystem insights and news.

Gartner: Top 10 Business Apps for Tablets

gartner logo Gartner says worldwide media tablet sales to end users will total 63.6 million units in 2011, a 261.4 percent increase from 2010 sales of 17.6 million units.  Yes…that says 261%!!.

As consumers increasingly buy these devices they inevitably start bringing them to work, pushing the adoption of business applications for tablets.   Gartner expects this adoption to increase substantially over the next few years as businesses start rolling out enterprise applications that support major business initiatives.

According to Gartner, the top 10 commercial business application categories for tablet devices are:

  1. Sales Automation.  Sales automation systems for customer collateral, sales presentations, and ordering systems
  2. Business intelligence.  Analytical and performance applications with management dashboards
  3. Email.  Containerized email to separate corporate messaging environments from personal email
  4. Collaboration.  Collaboration applications for meetings
  5. File Utilities.  For sharing and document distribution
  6. Business Processes.  General corporate/government enterprise applications for CRM, ERP, SCM and messaging
  7. Healthcare.  Medical support systems for doctors, nurses, and physical therapists
  8. Desktop Virtualization.  Hosted virtual desktop agents to provide secure remote operations of traditional desktop applications and environments
  9. Social Media.  Social networking applications with intelligent business insight
  10. Board Books.  For secure document and report distribution

For more detail on Gartner’s thoughts on this subject, see it’s press release “Gartner Identifies Top 10 Commercial Business Applications for Tablet Devices

A Primer on the Website Personalization Trend

The Personalized Web will be driven by analytic engines that will integrate data from many sources in order to present an online experienced tailored to each user.

Thanks to the explosion of social media, how users are influenced, consume information, and make purchasing decisions has been altered forever.  Users are increasingly expecting company websites, products, and services to be tailored to their individual preferences, past experiences, and what they happen to be doing at this very moment.  This puts the demand on business and IT leaders to create a personalized and engaging experience for end-users across all channels, both online and offline. 

image

                Unica: The State of Marketing 2010 (link)

Users want to their experience to be customized:

  • Returning visitors to a web site want to see a page based on all the information collected from previous visits.  Businesses should present personalized sites to these customers by organizing information and prioritizing it based on the individual's liking.  Products and services offered on those pages will be pre-configured.
  • “Anonymous” visitors to websites should get customized messages based on the referring URL, search terms, geo-location and any other insights. 

In 2011, I expect business leaders to focus on advanced solutions that can delivering a more personalized experience to end users.  These solutions will be designed to mine the user profile, buying behavior, browsing behavior and other insights obtained through marketing analytics in order to deliver a more customized and personalized online experience.  Look for further improvements in technologies such as marketing analytics and predictive algorithms that can automatically deliver highly relevant, contextually aware, personalized content and recommendations to customers via both online and offline channels. I also expect the personalization trend to be extended beyond the website to other digital channels, including social media marketing, mobile marketing, and email marketing.

One other point, the personalization trend is not only about presenting personalized pages to users of sales and marketing processes. All business application users can benefit from web sites and applications that present information that is personalized to the user. 

The rest of this post provides you with some background information on the trend, some quotes from the marketplace, and a bunch of links to additional reading information.

Trend Drivers

  • Individuals want content that is personalized and is relevant to why they are on a particular website at a given time /
  • New analytic capability

Trend Inhibitors/Challenges

  • Integrating offline as well as online behaviour
  • Need to build and retain complete profile data
  • Privacy issues

Trend Implications

  • New business processes and skills required
  • Need to track individual’s interactions and transactions across all channels, in order to provide the best offer or communication.
  • Messaging plans can be tailored to interests and preferences of each individual.

Quotes from the Marketplace: 

“Emerging context-enriched services will use location, presence, social attributes and other environmental information to anticipate an end user's immediate needs, offering more-sophisticated, situation-aware and usable functions” – Gartner (link)

“Marketers are focused on making their communications more timely and relevant to recipients. To do that, they need to build communications around the interests and preferences of each individual customer or prospect. “ – Unica, Sept. 2010 (link)

“Personalized product recommendations are proven to consistently increase sales, conversion rates, average order value and customer retention“ – Coremetrics, Oct 2010 (link)

Featured Video

Personalising the Web Experience – Unica Video

For More Information

Here are some sites where you will find links to other learning resources like white papers, demos, customer briefs, and videos

More Information From ibm.com

Mobile Computing Poised To Impact B2B In 2011

Unless you have been living on another planet, you realize that mobile computing and the ecosystem that surrounds it is a major growth industry.  5 years ago, mobile meant being able to make phone calls with your cell phone and perhaps accessing the internet with your laptop. Today, mobile means something totally different, thanks to the introduction of the smartphone, the Iphone, Google’s Android, and just this past year, the iPad. 

HorizonWatching Mobile Computing - 2011 Today, more people are working through remote or mobile access than ever before. Mobile devices are increasingly being used for web searches and applications traditionally done from a desktop. Over the last year there has been a focus on the development of mobile applications, services and cloud infrastructures, both public and private. These efforts will focus on delivering new innovative services to employees, business partners, consumers, and citizens on any device, anywhere.

To stay competitive organizations are extending their resources, data, and connectivity to people wherever they are…whether that is in face-to-face customer engagements or in an operational setting, such as a retail store, supply chain logistics, or field service. In addition, users are demanding access where ever they happen to be….whether they’re in their car, on a plane, in a hotel, or on a weekend camping trip.

Mobile email, mobile websites and mobile applications are becoming viable channels in which to conduct business.  As smartphone adoption continue to grow through the roof, we are now seeing with the popularity of the iPad the emergence of the tablet form factor. I believe we are moving towards a place where the typical business user might have three devices….a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet. IT developers will need to accommodate all three display form factors into their application environment.

And as a result, the mobile application infrastructure will need become more sophisticated. Enabling technologies will be new devices, faster networks, new location-aware technology, and improved mobile applications.

One area of focus today is Mobile Marketing. Consumers are wanting to use their mobile devices to help them do searches, get information on products and services, and help them make purchase decisions.  As consumers get used to using their mobile devices for consumer product purchases, they will increasingly want to use their devices in a business context. Marketing and sales managers need to understand the potential uses of mobile devices and how to apply the mobile marketing techniques to increase sales.

Some Analyst Perspectives

“Brands seeking a persistent presence with their customers must have a strategy to engage with their customers via mobile phones.” – Forrester, Sept. 2010 (link)

“59 percent of mobile consumers plan to use their mobile phone for holiday shopping and planning holiday celebrations, not including making phone calls” – Mobile Marketing Association, Nov. 2010 (Link)

“Consumers are relying on their mobile phones for more than talking and texting these days. They are using them for everything from reading and writing emails to watching the news, trading stocks, and booking hotel rooms.” – Forrester, Sept. 2010 (link)

“Mobile Proximity Marketing In U.S. to Reach $750M By 2011 And Nearly $6B By 2015” – Borrell Associates, Oct 2010 (link)

Adoption Drivers:

  • Growth of smartphones/tablets
  • The application development community is focused on developing mobile web application services and improvements in apps, browsers, and search will push new adoption.
  • Growth of location based apps
  • Faster networks (4G )
  • Mobile worker efficiency and productivity
  • Gen Y lives mobile / wireless life and will expect that in B2B transactions
  • Mobile devices are increasingly being used for web searches and applications traditionally done from a desktop.

Challenges:

  • Integrating mobile into business processes
  • Mobile analytics
  • Coverage in rural and undeveloped regions
  • Cost, Security issues.
  • Managing productivity of a remote workforce.
  • Reliability of mobile technologies

Implications for B2B:

  • Innovative mobile solutions enable new business models
  • Business processes and applications have to be re-engineered for mobile.
  • Expect increased interest in technologies that can boost the productivity of a remote workforce.
  • Growth countries use mobile as a leapfrogging approach to connect the base of the socio-economic pyramid to the formal economy.
  • Emerging solutions will include voice search, location-aware, and mobile video.
  • There will be increased focus on the development of enterprise-based mobile applications, services and cloud infrastructures, both public and private.
  • Knowledge economy produces a global and virtual workforce.
  • Mobile becomes a critical part of Unified Communication solutions

Some key mobile trends to watch in 2011 include Voice Search, Location Based Services, Video, Gaming, Event-Based Marketing, and Augmented Reality. On the horizon are applications like Mobile Video Collaboration solutions and 3D Mobile Internet allowing customers to browse 3D pictures/videos of products.  All this has implications for business processes throughout the organization. Some older companies will need to change culture and transform workflows as a result.  CIOs and IT leaders need to understand how mobile fits into their organization’s enterprise wide unified communications and social collaboration strategy.

For More Information – Internet

Gartner: Five Social Collaboration Software Predictions

Gartner - Social Software 2010 Earlier this week, Gartner released a report “Predicts 2010: Social Software Is an Enterprise Reality” in which the analyst firm provides some predictions on what is in store for social collaboration software in 2010 and the years ahead.   Increasingly, businesses are finding that applications like Twitter and Facebook can provide value.  That is translating into increased adoption of social collaboration platforms by enterprises of all sizes.

Here’s my summary of 5 predictions Gartner offers in the report:

  1. Bye Bye Email?:   Gartner says social networking will prove to be a more productive tool for many types of communications.  Gartner’s prediction:  By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users. 
  2. Internal Microblogging Efforts Fail:   The scale of Twitter is so large, enterprise users will find it more valuable than internal microblogging platforms.  Gartner’s prediction: By 2012, over 50 percent of enterprises will use activity streams that include microblogging, but stand-alone enterprise microblogging will have less than 5 percent penetration.
  3. IT-Led Social Media Projects Fail:   Gartner says that IT departments just don’t have the skill set to design and deliver an social media solution.  Gartner’s prediction:  Through 2012, over 70 percent of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail, while only 50% of business-led initiatives will fail. 
  4. Mobile Apps To Influence Desktop Apps:  Gartner says that IT departments will learn new ways of developing apps for SmartPhones and be able to use that knowledge to design better apps for desktops.  Gartner’s prediction:  Within five years, 70 percent of collaboration and communications applications designed on PCs will be modeled after user experience lessons from smartphone collaboration applications.  
  5. Enterprises Slow To Adopt Social Network Analysis:  Gartner says SNA tools will remain an untapped source of insight in most organizations.  Gartner’s prediction:  Through 2015, only 25 percent of enterprises will routinely utilize social network analysis to improve performance and productivity.

Much more information can be found in the report “Predicts 2010: Social Software Is an Enterprise Reality” or, if you don’t have access, check out the summary in the press release, Gartner Reveals Five Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond

Deloitte: Seven Telecommunications Predictions for 2010

Deloitte 2010 Telcom Predictions My last two posts provided a summary of technology predictions and media predictions from Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Industry group.  In this post I will provide a summary of Deloitte’s predictions for the Telecommunications Industry.

The topics covered in this year's report include the growing importance of mobile search for smartphones, changes in network technologies and pricing plans to cope with the explosion of data, and changes in the scale of wireless contracts both in terms of up-time and duration.

Here’s my summary of Deloitte’s telecommunications predictions for 2010

  1. The smartphone becomes a search-phone.  Mobile search will most certainly become one of the hottest mobile apps and it will be a critical part of any future mobile platform.  The next few years will be exciting and first mover advantage will be critical.
  2. Mobile VoIP becomes a social network.  Deloitte says that 2010 could be an inflection year for mobile VoIP.   However, I won’t be holding my breath.  I think its still a few years away….but I do agree it will be driven by Facebook (and perhaps Twitter) users.
  3. Widening the bottleneck. Telecom technology helps decongest the mobile network.  Deloitte says technologies that help speed up wireless networks should experience healthy growth in 2010.  With all the millions of devices accessing networks, there’s bound to be congestion problems.
  4. Paying for what we eat. Carriers change data pricing and make regulators happy.  Similar to trends we are seeing in highway congestion charging, Deloitte says to expect carriers to start billing customers based on how much data they use, when they use it, and also what kind of data is being used.
  5. Nixing the nines:  reliability redefined and reassessed.  Deloitte says since enterprises are exploring ways to save money, they will begin to tolerate lower service levels on non-priority services and applications.
  6. Contract 2.0: long-term solutions shorten and multiply.  Deloitte says that while demand for telco solutions will increase, the continued enterprise focus on cost savings will drive shorter contract terms.
  7. The line goes leaner. And greener.   Expect a focus by the telecommunications industry on reducing C02 emissions, with the main driver for that focus being cost savings (rather than a desire to improve the environment).

For more information and detail, check out the 28 page report Deloitte 2010 Global Telecommunications Predictions or you could also listen to the Deloitte Telecommunications Predictions podcast

Gartner’s Latest List of Disruptive Technologies

Every Wednesday, Gartner does a free webinar on a variety of topics.  Earlier this month, they had a presentation titled "Technology Trends You Can't Afford to Ignore."   I attended the webinar and took some notes.

The webinar provided attendees with Gartner’s latest list of disruptive technologies.  According to Gartner, a disruptive technology is one which drives major change in business processes or revenue streams, consumer behavior or spending, or IT industry dynamics.  It’s important that companies have processes in place to identify the disruptive technologies that will impact their business and develop plans to address these disruptions. 

Gartner regularly publishes disruptive technology lists.  Back in October 2007, I posted Gartner:  Five Disruptive Trends, which was a summary of their current list at that time, which included the following five trends:

  1. Web2.0
  2. Software as a Service
  3. Global-class computing
  4. The Consumerization of IT
  5. Open-Source Software

You can read my October 2007 post Gartner:  Five Disruptive Trends for more on that Gartner list.

So I was interested attending the webinar and seeing what was on Gartner’s list this time.  Here is a summary of Gartner’s July 2009 list of the top 10 technologies that will drive significant disruption over the next five years.

  1. Virtualization.   Virtualization helps reduce the number of servers used, decreasing power consumption.
  2. Data Deluge.  According to Gartner, the amount of data produced around the world will grow by 650% over the next few years, and 80% of it will be unstructured.
  3. Energy & Green IT.   We need to come up with regulations for technology and power consumption. 
  4. Consumerization & Social Software.  Consumerization, Social media, social computing, and social networking will change the way we work.   See my April 16, 2009 post on The Consumerization of IT  or my March 12, 2009 post Social Computing as a Disruptive Force for more on this trend.
  5. Unified Communications.    Unifying communications will allow users to route communications to their preferred device and change that device preference whenever they need to.  
  6. Mobile  Mobile devices 10 years ago were just phones.  Today, they are little computers. Tomorrow, it may be the primary device employees use to get their work done.  
  7. Complex Resource Tracking  This is all about the need to manage our networks more efficiently
  8. System Density.   We are going to need more and more servers.  That's going to increase power and cooling requirements, even as the price of the hardware continues to drop.
  9. Mashups and Enterprise Portals.  Employees will increasingly need and demand new ways to see information. 
  10. Cloud Computing. Cloud-computing can certainly save you a lot of time and money, but it will cost a lot of time to make the switch to the cloud happen.  I spent a bunch of time researching cloud computing.  For more information, see this post, which also contains links to other cloud computing posts I have done.

A quick comparison of the 2007 list with the list today, we see that Consumerization of IT/Social Software made both lists.  And we also see that Saas/Cloud Computing made both lists.   Both these trends are important disruptive trends, for sure.

For more information, or to download the replay and a pdf of the presentation, go to this Gartner website: Webinar Wednesday Series: Technology Trends You Can't Afford to Ignore

Accenture: Future of the Communications Industry

I saw that Accenture recently released a report titled “Communications Industry Trajectory:  On Track for High Performance?”.  The report discusses the blurred boundaries of the telecommunications industry as technology, business and consumer trends redefine the digital services marketplace.  

There is no doubt that convergence is now an accurate description of the current business model of the communications services industry.   Carriers, software companies, high-tech firms, media enterprises, entertainment conglomerates all may find themselves collaborating and partnering one day and competing against each other the next.

Accenture reports that industry executives they talked to for this research report indicate that the future of the communications industry has many opportunities and possibilities.  Future competition will be fierce and most companies will look quite different 10 years from now.   Accenture expects a number of significant mergers, acquisitions and alliances are on the horizon that will change the terms of the playing field in dramatic ways.

Some of the themes that emerged from the research Accenture conducted for the report.

  • Carriers are confident, but their vision may be insufficiently transformative
  • Seamless delivery of content across multiple platforms will be crucial
  • Other players are looking to leverage the distinctive strengths of service providers
  • Carriers must learn to use their brand in the right way
  • Support for open innovation and collaboration is critical to achieving high performance

According to the report there are potential weaknesses in the carriers' current approach: 

  • lack of a powerful vision for managing the customer experience,
  • some softness in overall brand value, and
  • an inadequate support structure for planning and managing the collaborative and partnering relationships necessary to spur innovation and improve time to market.

For more information, you can read the report or listen to an 8 minute Podcast

Primer on Unified Communications

What do we expect in 2009 for UC? A merged market between UC and collaboration, even more trial activity, business executives getting more involved with UC selections and deployments, IT managers continuing to demand interoperability based on standards, and UC managed service adoption. All these elements support growth to a $2.8 billion market by the end of 2009 — even amid economic uncertainty.Forrester , Jan 2009

Many organizations are starting to see the potential value of Unified Communications both to their staff and to their business processes.  Investing in UC can lead to reduced operational expenses.  I’m expecting that 2009 will bring increased focus on integrating the matrix of different communication types within an organization in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.

Enterprises will increasingly realize that they have multiple products and vendors performing the same communications functions, and that this redundancy creates additional expense (both for licenses, operations), makes it more difficult for users to learn, and increases the complexity of integration.  Vendors should realize the potential for convergence of these markets and work to accelerate the trend.

According to Gartner, during the next five years, the number of different communications vendors companies may be reduced by at least 50%.  Gartner says this change is driven by increases in the capability of application servers and the general shift of communication applications to common off-the-shelf servers and operating systems.  As this occurs, formerly distinct markets, each with distinct vendors, converge, resulting in massive consolidation in the communications industry.

Internally, most large enterprises have separate organizations managing the discrete communications tasks are generally separate today.  For example, the telephony department is separate from the storage networking team, which is separate from the data network team, which operates independently of the e-mail team, and the list goes on.  While the technologies, products and even vendors converge, users must work hard to converge their management teams and, more importantly, their business processes.

Drivers

  • Value of traditional desk phone and desktop PC is diminishing
  • Economic uncertainty as companies look to cut cost, e.g., in travel
  • Cost reductions programs
  • Integrate communication functions directly with business applications.
  • Trend towards convergence of digital content, IP as a common communication protocol, and machine-to-machine communications.

Inhibitors

  • Some technologies (e.g. presence) are not fully understood.  Products are still at an early stage and lack functionality.
  • Best practices are not well-defined: e.g., interaction with other technologies such as SaaS and cloud computing, conflicting standards.
  • Lack of coordination with legacy communication infrastructures
  • Many enterprises have struggled to internally support voice over IP (VoIP). The additional technical challenges of UC will only compound the support problem.
  • Soft ROI difficult in challenging economy

Observations:

Enterprises will look to integrate the matrix of different installed communication types in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.   Integrating communications and collaboration in a rich, multimedia experience — one that can include unified telephony, voice, video, instant messaging, Web conferencing, e-mail, voice mail, and business processes and applications — enables a whole new way for people, teams and communities to find experts and make faster, better decisions.

Recommendations:

  • Continue researching this important trend and understand its impact on each client’s business processes.
  • Build careful, detailed plans for when each category of communications function is replaced or converged, coupling this step with the prior completion of appropriate administration team convergence.

For More Information:

PEW Internet: The Future of the Internet III

A couple of weeks ago,  Pew/Internet and American Life Project published its Future of the Internet III report, which is a list of technology predictions.  A PDF of the report can be downloaded here http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_FutureInternet3.pdf

This is the third canvassing of Internet specialists and analysts by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. 

Technology stakeholders and critics were asked in an online survey to assess scenarios about the future social, political, and economic impact of the Internet.  Some 578 leading Internet activists, builders, and commentators responded in this survey to scenarios about the effect of the Internet on social, political, and economic life in the year 2020.   An additional 618 stakeholders also participated in the study, for a total of 1,196 participants who shared their views.

Key findings:

  • The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the Internet for most people in the world in 2020.
  • The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.
  • Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the Internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.
  • Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing arms race, with the crackers who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.
  • The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.
  • Next-generation engineering of the network to improve the current Internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch.

Nothing really too earth-shattering based on what we know and discuss today.  More predictions about the evolution of mobile communications can be found here, and also make sure to take a look at predictions related to developments in the Internet user interface.   Much more information can be found by going to the PEW / INTERNET website: The Future of the Internet III