BYO collaborative tool (who needs VoIP phones)

Complexity has held back many enterprises from deploying unified communications (UC) solutions more aggressively. Yet, relying on disparate tools for communications and collaboration, including voice and video, now seem an increasingly frail proposition given available platforms that provide a converged seamless experience.

“UC will no more be just about an IP phone, or a soft client, or just email and presence,” says Harsh Upadhyay, industry analyst for ICT at Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific. “It will now be a business communication suite, which integrates convergence, interoperability, security and dependability with collaboration. Collaborative suites will be further enhanced to deliver business outcomes, as this would be the key consideration of CxOs prior to deploying any communication suite.”

More than 90% of large enterprises engage multiple UC vendors, according to ZK Research. Even organizations that seek to standardize on a single vendor will inevitably have to communicate with businesses that use a different vendor.

Interoperating options

So, for IT heads mulling the move from existing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to UC solutions, major considerations include multi-vendor interoperability and centralized enterprise-wide dial plans across PBXs and UC systems.

This creates the daunting challenge of integrating disparate communications and collaboration systems that support mobility features, and establishing collaboration between different departments and branches easily, affordably and efficiently.

In integrating diverse UC solutions or extending UC services across applications and networks, a core communications controller plays a key role in simplifying network operations.

Eliminating incompatibilities at the session protocol layer, such a solution tightly couples session management, border control, session recording, WebRTC support, operations management, service management and session delivery.

It also routes sessions between voice, video and other UC systems, and creates a central point to manage enterprise dial plans – a labor-intensive and error-prone task.

Cloud and mobility

Convergence and enhanced communications and collaborative suites dovetail with the growing consumption of cloud applications and transformation of internal networks to all-IP environments. 

UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions are growing at an unprecedented rate. Analysts at Frost & Sullivan noted that leading telecom service providers, such as Telstra, British Telecom, Verizon and Orange, already offer UCaaS, as will large systems integrators.

Growing in tandem with cloud adoption is the number of connected devices. The mobile workforce, user preferences and focus on increased productivity are intensifying the push for UC apps on mobile devices.

Workflow-centric collaboration

Employee productivity, improved customer experience and reduced costs will also spur businesses to move from voice-centric to workflow-centric collaboration and consuming them from the cloud via mobile devices.

And both communications service providers (CSPs) and enterprises are expected to start focusing on newer UC elements beyond traditional voice and email applications.

WebRTC session integration, for instance, enables web-based real-time services such as one-on-one and multi-party audio and video calling, conferencing, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) or public switched telephone network interoperability, session transfer from audio to web, and screen sharing. Voice and video collaboration can be delivered on multiple end points without costly phone infrastructure.

Moreover, workflow-centric opportunities abound with enterprise mobility solutions to capture the mobile workforce; customer relationship contact centers and social media applications to enhance customer interaction; and videoconferencing solutions to ease collaboration across dispersed locations. These solutions build on existing messaging, chat, calendar and contact management capabilities to reduce application toggling and maintain context across the various modes of communication.

One solution that facilitates business centric collaboration, including support for WebRTC, is Oracle’s Unified Communications and Collaboration Solution. Seamless integration of RTC with secure, enterprise-grade collaboration services reduces application toggling and maintains context across various modes of communication and on multiple devices – web, mobile and desktop. It also provides infrastructure capabilities for secure and cost effective multi-vendor interoperability.

“More and more enterprises are seeking ways to leverage the improved functionality of next-generation networks to enhance their unified communications and collaboration platforms,” says Andrew Small, vice president of Unified Communications and Customer Relationship Management at BT Global Services.

In Indonesia, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia is relying on Oracle’s service delivery platform (SDP) solutions to launch features and extensions to its existing IP-based communication services quickly and cost-effectively.

The platform helps to integrate telecom and IT capabilities, and support services that cross technology and network boundaries. They include SMS push alerts, content downloads via the cloud and mobile payments. The SDP also paves the way for enterprises to create, host and deliver applications for smartphones and tablets via an application store.

And as enterprises interconnect UC, PBX and contact center systems with each other and with service provider trunk interfaces, they can also easily and securely connect to a CSP’s SIP trunks and hosted communications applications and services.

A platform such as Oracle’s Unified Communications and Collaboration solution can enable enterprises to meet their communication and collaboration goals. With support for voice, video and collaboration features integrated into the workflow, enterprises no longer require separate desk phones, PBXs or other disjointed tools. It is an open platform that provides seamless multi-vendor interoperability, and can bring communications as a feature to enterprise applications such as ERP, customer care and human capital management among others. .

This is a QuestexAsia feature commissioned by Oracle Communications.