IBM predicts five communications trends
IBM predicts five trends will increase demand for unified communications. The company foresees these trends as reshaping the way businesses and workers communicate and collaborate.
The predictions, outlined in a speech by Mike Rhodin, General Manager of IBM Lotus software, at the VoiceCon in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., are:
  • The virtual workplace will become the rule. Desk phones and desktop computers will gradually disappear, replaced by mobile devices, including laptops. Social networking tools and virtual world meeting experiences will simulate the feeling on being there in-person.
  • Instant messaging and other real-time collaboration tools will become the norm, bypassing e-mail.
  • Companies will go beyond the initial uses of instant messaging and will integrate IM with business processes and line-of-business applications.
  • Interoperability and open standards will tear down proprietary walls within business and public domains. Corporate demand for interoperability and maturing industry standards will force unified communications providers to embrace interoperability.
  • Meetings will become increasingly ad hoc and instantaneous based on context and need. 3-D virtual world and gaming technologies will have a significant impact on online corporate meeting.
IDC estimates the unified communications market will reach $17 billion in worldwide revenue in 2011, growing at 38 percent compounded annually from 2007.* As such, IBM sees unified communications as the next significant frontier for technology growth. To meet these demands, IBM is investing significantly in a range of resources, including software, services and research. IBM has a growing number of social and collaborative software research projects with more than 70 researchers and more than 1,300 IBM software developers and technical experts contributing to unified communications. New technical skills programs for IBM developers are being used to help accelerate software development, including the teaching of Eclipse-based development. In addition, IBM's Venture Capital program is working to identify and fuel promising new innovations in unified communications. Part of this investment also covers a significant expansion of IBM Lotus Sametime software products. Work has also begun on blending IBM's social software expertise into the real-time environment. The new Lotus Sametime Advanced software, available March 28, includes community tools that enable users to spend less time trying to figure out who can help solve a problem, by reaching out to a community of colleagues or experts instantly. The Lotus Sametime Advanced offering also features sophisticated collaboration features such as persistent group chat and instant screen sharing capabilities. Large-scale adoption of IBM's unified communications and collaboration platform and services is growing. IBM Global Technology Services is assisting clients around the globe to exploit the convergence of voice, video, and data. IDEA Cellular, a leading cellular operator and an Aditya Birla Group Company, is deploying a first-of-its-kind unified communications and collaboration solution with IBM and Cisco to help boost employee productivity and enhance business growth. IBM is providing the services, assets and skills to deliver consulting, design and architecture, implementation; thereby, seamlessly integrating the solution into the existing environment. The IBM investments will address clients' requirements for integration of multi-platform environments and multiple network equipment providers, while masking the complexity of delivering the solution with a proven reference architecture to address mission critical business needs. IBM is heavily investing in training engineers, consultants and services professionals in IBM industry-leading Global Services Method and Reference Architectures, which have been applied to thousands of engagements. A variety of leading companies from around the world are working with IBM software and services to deliver new unified communications solutions. For example, Avaya is developing a state-of-the-art unified communications solution including voice, fax, e-mail or instant message, based on IBM technology, for the Pennsylvania State Employee's Credit Union. Forterra Systems is using IBM UC2 technology to develop a futuristic, unified communications solution code-named "Babel Bridge" that could allow U.S. intelligence agencies to use a common graphical collaboration system to instantly communicate within a virtual world. IBM Business Partner, VBrick is introducing the VBrick Video Plug-in for Lotus Sametime, the first product that streams live broadcasts and on-demand digital video content within the IBM Lotus Sametime environment. For more information on IBM's Unified Communications and Collaboration software and services, visit: