This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Gary Gluzman, Executive Director of Product Development, MetTel and is the first of two parts.
In the days of the Pony Express, it was a feat to connect a letter with its recipient across the country in two weeks’ time, with the fastest travel of news traversing coasts to deliver the news of Lincoln’s election taking almost eight days. Then came the telegraph that connected cities, countries and continents. This was followed by the telephone, the real-time connection between two endpoints. All of these methods of communication underwent multiple iterations to lead us to where we are now.
Today, with the tap of a finger, the entire world can be accessed in the blink of an eye. You can tell when messages have been read, and cross time zones and cultures through one simple note. This desire for connection isn’t new – it’s what pushed innovations forward from the start of telegraphs to the latest smartphone. Each new update is a step closer to instant gratification and communication – although from the start it was a long way to go.
From Stamped Envelope to SMS
The invention of the telephone can easily be considered one of the most influential events in the history of world communication – it made it possible to talk in real time with someone in a completely different location than you. No longer did news have to travel through a stamped envelope, through trains and planes and boats, to get to the recipient. It was as easy as picking up the phone and dialing a specific number that lead directly to your contact.
But even real time conversations didn’t satisfy the wants and needs of people when it came to communication. Voicemails were the only option to connect with someone if you weren’t both available simultaneously, and often turned into a tennis match of trying to get in touch. The solution was SMS messaging, which entered the scene and allowed for both immediate communication and delayed responses.
And now, having dominated the communications field for the past decade, SMS messages are on the out and we are finding ourselves being ushered into the latest era – Unified Communications.
The New Era
What exactly is “Unified Communications,” or UC? It’s certainly a buzz phrase in the industry, ringing in the ears of both enterprises and end users alike. Think of it as an enterprise-level SMS that can relay messages in real time through video or text messages. As businesses adopt the cloud and look for cloud-based solutions to build their platforms on, the same goes for the UC services they are looking to implement.
These services, including Skype for Business, Cisco Jabber, WhatsApp, and others, all offer users a way to easily communicate across mobile and desktop devices.. Wireless carriers are watching SMS revenue diminish, and must make adjustments to their strategy and investments so as to not be left behind. This includes offering UC services through the carrier, which means providers are forced to leverage outside software provider technology to keep up with UC demand.
In the next article, we will discuss the new UC offerings in more depth, from both a consumer and business perspective. This includes the implications it’s having in overall communication, as well as how existing software providers and emerging software platforms are getting into the game.