Unified Comms for everyone?

It’s interesting to see how communications tools are evolving. Almost everyone has a mobile phone, and an email account. Some use MSN, IRC, Twitter, Facebook, and other web sites. But to pull it all together in a sensible manner, that’s a challenge. How many times you’ve got an angry call about not having responded to an SMS? How many times you’ve picked your mobile from your pocket, and found out that somebody put an important message and didn’t call after you.

These are lost chances. They’re things that could have gone better. Much better.

It’s amazing how much Murphy’s Laws dictate our experiences with communication. A wise professor said, that communications succeeds – but only by chance. I can’t but agree!

There are some fundamental points in communications.
– People don’t try to initiate comms for an infinite amount of time. They get exhausted or frustrated.
– You really do communicate both by being active and by being passive. These are signs. If you answer, you indicate an interest in messaging. If you don’t answer, no matter what the real reason is, you give out an image of not being interested. We interpret things; we don’t see things as they are.
– The message is always context-sensitive. And this is especially important in faceless net communications. A joke or sense of irony is often misinterpreted.

What I’d like to see, is a unified communications system for everyone. Some companies are exploring the possibilities. I got the spark today, after installing a Twitter front-end called TweetDesk. It gave me a whole new view on using Twitter.

UC essentially means that you carry on messaging, no matter what the situation and available equipment. For some this is a red flag, a no-no. But the truth is that the experience can only be understood by trying it. UC sometimes does raise one to the shoulders of giants. There’s a feeling of kind of surfing on top of all communications; you don’t miss things, or at least you have knowledge of what you are missing. Because basically currently we still live in the information dark ages. Email is read a couple of times per day – sometimes once in 3 weeks. Of course this varies a lot by person. Some occupations require much more speedier communications – take journalists for example. I’ve followed the life of a 4-team editorial for 7 months, and it was very interesting.

Unified communications requires a couple of things. A good infrastructure is necessary; good-quality, low-lag, country-wide wireless network coverage. It also requires user education into the tools. And the resilience from the user to really utilize the tools.

And for us users, it requires a lot of configurating. There are no silver bullet, turnkey solutions that I know of. You do the building by enabling system after another. And the result might be that you end up jumping from application to application, sometimes having to log-in at times that wouldn’t suit you well.

As of writing this, I’m dropped out of a WLAN at local cafe. This happens every 1/2 time I’m here. And at home, my own WLAN regularly drops me once in two hours. This is the magic of tech. It’s always in need of configuration, and sometimes you’re not in charge. So the technological resiliency cannot be overstated. To have a successful UC requires extremely robust solutions. Perhaps even having instantly switching backup systems.

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