UC-to-UC Voice and Video - Where and When?

28 Oct 2014

Farzin Shahidi, Founder and CEO of NextPlane, asked UCStrategies to take a look at the question of where and when voice and video will be of major interest for inter-organizational communications, especially if provided through UC federation and if linked to business processes or applications. Great question, Farzin! (For more about federation, see this article and this article.)

So, let's look at where demand may arise for B2B voice and video communications and collaboration. (Note: B2B represents communication between any organizations, including both public - B2G and G2G - and private sector.) Here are a couple of high-potential sectors, from our analysis:

  • One-to-One Ad-Hoc Video Calling. Most organizations today are contracting for video conferencing services from external, cloud-based service providers. In practice, those who require video in their daily work have to schedule these video meetings, send invites and "host" the meeting. It would be much less costly and much more convenient if a video call with another party could just occur via UC federation by checking the other party's presence status then opening an IM session to start the conversation, then click again to invoke the video channel. Quick, simple, low cost, and avoids all the issues over which computer or browser is being used by the external party. Motivation and benefit: Cost savings and simplicity.

  • Supply Chain Coordination. Almost all enterprises - public or private sector - have a network of suppliers and partners that support the enterprise's mission by producing products or providing services. Since these suppliers and partners are all known entities, UC federation is ideal for communications between the organizations, with many examples. In some of these networks, video may be a valuable addition. Working with suppliers of marketing aids or other visual media would benefit from a direct view of designs, graphics, etc. Working with suppliers of parts and assemblies would benefit via video inspection or defect resolution. Video could also be valuable for coordination and negotiation with the supply chain, adding that increased dimension of communication and understanding to what would otherwise be only text or voice. Motivation and benefit: Speed and efficiency of the supply chain.

  • Business Discussions or Negotiations. A number of industries require the occasional, on-demand, face-to-face dialog to collaborate or to get directions or decisions from the other party. This includes all types of professional services (attorneys, architects, ad agencies, accounting firms) as well as governments, educational or research institutions, and healthcare. It will be of great value if those types of organizations can just invite each of their counterparts to join a federation exchange so that these on-demand dialogues can occur immediately via voice and video. Motivation and benefit: Richer, more accurate, easy and instant collaborations for improved client services and better outcomes.

These examples are just a sample of what may be possible as the technologies and the federation services evolve. However, the underlying theme is clear and the justifications are compelling, so it seems pretty likely we will have much more UC-to-UC (federated) real-time communications in our futures.

To summarize, analytic thinking about these possibilities brings two things into focus, at least from my perspective:

  1. Video is valuable for many things but isn't needed for everything; the market will sort that out.
  2. Our imaginations are probably understating the potential for UC-to-UC real-time voice and video interactions; we will likely still be surprised by what happens.

Thanks again, Farzin, for the question. It's clear that video is part of the future and that a federation service will be an important, easy and economical video interaction platform.

This paper is sponsored by NextPlane.

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