We discover how traditional telephony has evolved into unified communication, and the challenges this process has brought with it.
By Costantino Maiolani, Tech Expert VEM Sistemi
How many times in recent years have we heard terms like Unified Communications, Collaboration, Smart Work, Hybrid Work? So many, perhaps too many if we think that these are concepts and technologies that have been around for many years. As is often the case, the emergency situation experienced due to the pandemic has been the real trigger for the development of these new ways of experiencing work, previously considered inefficient, expensive, unnecessary and complicated. Above all, necessity was the real revolution that made seeing and hearing each other via a PC or a smartphone for a meeting, no longer a transgression or a vision, but the norm; to the point of exaggeration.
The term Collaboration refers to the set of technologies and tools that enable communication in real-time (telephony, video conferencing) or asynchronously (Instant Messaging), allowing content to be shared and part of business processes to be managed from any location with different devices.
Thanks to concrete technological developments and ever-increasing bandwidth availability over the last 20 years, the world of Collaboration has transformed, becoming more unified and accessible, to meet the need to work and collaborate in a faster, more effective, integrated and mobile way.
Traditional telephony (the classic PBX: private branch exchange) evolved into “IP”, videoconferencing devices began to populate some meeting rooms and the first tools for chatting with colleagues and making video calls appeared on company PCs. If initially the main difficulty in achieving even minimal integration between these systems (when possible) lay in the fact that they were complex, expensive and difficult to manage, with the pandemic even the most conservative were forced to invest in these tools, triggering their sudden development in terms of technology and culture. So today we are really talking about unified communication, as the same tool allows the user to call and be called according to the policies of a traditional PBX, to chat with one person or several groups of people, to video call, to share content, up to much more vertical uses (Remote Expert) saving time, money and facilitating business.
Having passed the phase of exasperation of the phenomenon where any pretext was suitable for organising a video meeting, the real challenge now is to have tools and environments suitable for hybrid work without in any way creating barriers or diversity depending on where one works. In this scenario, those working from home, or more generally on the move, will have the same access to resources as those in the office, provided they have a connection that supports this type of interaction. This is why now a telephone switchboard must give the possibility to operate by telephone with the same tools in every situation, a meeting room must be able to manage meetings with both in-person and remote participants, a conference room or classroom must give the possibility to organise and manage hybrid events or lessons, at the same time trying to make the tools easier to use and manage. Certainly, the new relationship of trust that has been created between companies and the Cloud has facilitated this process.
VEM Sistemi has always been committed to designing, implementing and supporting the most reliable and cutting-edge solutions in the field of Collaboration, trying to meet all the challenges that this constantly evolving market offers, from evolved on-prem PBXs to hybrid or full-cloud PBXs, to setting up meeting/event rooms or classrooms, and to implementing highly integrable, secure and reliable systems. Not to be underestimated is the fundamental role that VEM can and must play in assisting customers in choosing the best collaboration tools and technologies according to business processes that increasingly require integration and reliability.
This is because on the one hand the recent past has accelerated the adoption of Collaboration tools and software, but on the other hand the difficulty and confusion of the period, together with the shortage of materials, have inevitably created choices sometimes dictated by parameters that are no longer valid or incorrect, turning into “makeshift” solutions, generating a strong fragmentation of the market and new complexities to manage. This phenomenon has occurred massively on the part of meeting and room set-up, creating a new clear separation both with the telephone world and within the video meeting sphere itself, where there are no longer global standards but standards dictated by the moment, by availability and by market dynamics. Therefore, the further challenge today is to identify new key points in order to make the best choice in terms of functionalities, processes, integrations, assistance, so as to create as far as possible a unified ecosystem both for use and for management and support, succeeding in consolidating real-time services with asynchronous ones with an eye to interoperability. Interoperability becomes a fundamental concept on the client side to allow the user to operate with the same tool on different applications and to control the devices that are part of the collaboration ecosystem, and on the device side (video in particular) to allow the user to participate in different types of meetings by exploiting the reliability and computing power of the codec and not that of the laptop or PC in the room, leaving the USB solution as the “last resort”.
VEM Sistemi has precisely this as its main objective, to accompany customers in the transformation of business collaboration spaces and processes thanks to the experience, expertise and market-leading vendors that have been supporting us for years.