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The Real Time Messaging Revolution in Enterprise Communications

May 12, 2015

Unified Communications (UC) is undergoing yet-another-facelift with the growing emergence of real time communications (RTC), with WebRTC driving rapid adoption and integration real time tools into existing products.  The humble function of messaging is emerging as the game changer for UC, not voice and video.

Real-time messaging has been with us since the early days of the Internet, with little structure or flow in the beginning.   You got your IM, but there was little in the way of logging or grouping or being able to transfer between IM and other forms of communication.   And forget about security or encryption or anything linked to data outside of the core application.

With the advent of mobile and the light bulb going on in the enterprise space, you can now get a full featured softphone client, such as GENBAND's GENcom UC client that "crosses the streams" of RTC (but without bad effects).  GENCom UC provides one environment to move from IM to audio and video calls, multi-person conferencing, presence, and the rest of the usual suspects of UC, expanding it with integration of click-to-call, click-to-email, and click-to-IM from any directly list or call history.  Presence/federating IM is supported to cloud-based GENBAND EXPERiUS accounts and Yahoo, AOL, Google, and Microsoft IM clients.

Further functionality can be provided with cloud-based services, such as the aforementioned GENBAND EXPERiUS Smart Office, providing the backend support for multi-person conferencing, WebRTC gateway support and enterprise level telephony functions for call forwarding, hunt groups and all the other heavy lifting once requiring a dedicated IP PBX and specialized hardware.   More importantly, service providers are able to wrap everything into a security framework to deter bad actors from snooping or other actions.

via Shutterstock

But there are also social aspects driving the popularity of instant messaging.  Millennials have embraced mobile messaging as the primary way of communication, eschewing phone calls (not efficient) and email (takes too long).  The use of social media, such as Facebook, has underlined the utility of IM in business settings.  People can communicate with each other in real time as they are able and aren't tied up as they are with a voice call, or have to dedicate more time as they would via email.

The future for real-time messaging is in organization and integration.  Next-generation tools such as Slack enable conversations to be grouped as channels and I wouldn't be surprised to see such functionality appear in other clients in short order.   Each conversation combines a log of real time communications built around messaging and integrating screen sharing, file sharing, and even voice and video logging and transcripts.  All communications around a project or topic is centralized and accessible to participants, so everyone is on the same page with the history and project progress.

Open for debate is how RTM hooks into other business applications.  Microsoft's plan is to integrate Skype for Business into all of its other Office applications, but is this a quick bandage or foreshadowing of deeper integration between productive software (i.e., word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, email) and real-time communications? Microsoft wants to wire everyone into Azure cloud services, ranging from productivity to real time communications, with layers of value-added processing available if wanted/needed.  This week Microsoft announced Office Delve, an organizational analytics package that provides insights to individuals and teams from Office 365 data.  Expect in the future RTM and RTC analytics packages from all vendors to provide similar insights on the uses and effectiveness of real -time communications.

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