Discussion on our collaboration improvement project this morning and how we take forward new collaborative functionality on our upgraded telephone switch. Obviously a long way to go as we've only just upgraded and things are still bedding down, but we will be starting to look at how we take advantage of it soon.
I'm very interested in Unified Communications (UC), especially when I think how many ways people have to communicate with me at the moment. You can email me (but I get hundreds of emails to 2 different email addresses and I'm not always in front of a computer or connected to the internet); you can phone me (but on what number - I have a home phone, a work phone and 2 mobile phones); if I don't answer you can leave me a voice mail (on one of my 4 different voice mail boxes); or text me (to one of my 2 mobile phones); or send me an instant message; or Twitter me; or send me a message via Facebook; or through Friends Reunited, MySpace, or Linkedin; you could videoconference me; or meet me in Second Life; or send me a message via the many Internet Forums I belong to. Or - you could be really radical - and send me a letter. Or even more radical - come and see me!
But - how do you know where I am, physically or virtually, and how do you know how I want to be contacted? And how do I manage all of these different communications, and how do we integrate them into business processes?
No single communication mode is going to replace all of the others - each has a useful function and is the right solution in different circumstances. Plus, will we be willing to give up any of them? But using so many devices and methods is so cumbersome, especially if each has it's own separate way of addressing users, of creating and managing contact lists and of establishing communications sessions. What I'd like is all of these things to work together somehow and be aware of each other, with one way of addressing users and a single contact list. The ideal would also to have some presence awareness, with a context of where I am and how I'd prefer to be communicated with.
Maybe in a few years...