Although multimodal unified communications (UC) are slowly but surely dominating business communications, person-to-person voice conversations are still an important part of UC. However, UC must support end users both inside and outside of an organization, especially whenever they are using different UC technology platforms or services (UCaaS). Federation services play an important role in facilitating such contacts between people in different organizations or different locations, but must frequently connect easily for real-time and near-real-time conversations.

We discussed the growing role of federated services with Farzin Shahidi, CEO of NextPlane, a leading provider of such a service.

1. What are the key trends that are changing the nature of business communication?

NextPlane: There’s certainly a lot going on, so I thought I’d focus on five major trends:

  • Email and internal desk phones are no longer adequate communication tools in today’s fast-paced 24×7 business environments. Instead, knowledge workers are adopting both real-time and near real-time communication tools to get the job done. As a result, instant messaging and presence are replacing email, and IP-based voice and video calls are replacing PSTN desk phone connections.
  • The success of the modern enterprise is rooted in its ability to provide knowledge workers the tools they need to securely collaborate with their business partners in real time; which is what UC platforms do best today. At the same time, their employees are demanding access to seamless embedded voice and video communications (the promise of WebRTC), as well as project and file-based collaboration tools.
  • Expectations have evolved, and today’s increasingly mobile employees expect they’ll have the ability to communicate with their business contacts in real time—regardless of underlying UC platforms. These mobile users want to find, connect and collaborate with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Federation allows that interoperability, and the cloud enables mobility, which is why many businesses are turning toward cloud-based managed UC solutions (UC as-a-Service). In turn, employees stay connected no matter where they happen to be, and productivity remains at the highest possible levels.
  • Now that virtually all forward-thinking businesses have successfully deployed UC solutions within company walls, their end users want to communicate with their external colleagues using the same tools, streamlining their work processes. To meet these needs, companies have to figure out how to scale the number of federations.
  • With security breaches popping up in the news at a frenetic rate these days, security is now at the center of all external and internal communications. This pronounced need for security is forcing businesses to move away from unsecured public instant messaging networks, like AIM and Yahoo, and prosumer voice and video services, like Google Hangouts and Skype. To make sure proprietary information is protected, businesses are turning toward secure UC-to-UC communications, choosing solutions that only allow authorized traffic on their networks and prevent phishing attacks on their unsuspecting end users.

2. What is the biggest challenge organizations face when trying to take advantage of UC federation?

NextPlane: After companies have deployed UC platforms or services, they’ll have to figure out how to federate with their partner organizations to enable employees to securely and seamlessly communicate and collaborate with their external colleagues in real time.

View the full article on UC Strategies

Author: Art Rosenberg