Tech Sizzlers: Real Time Collaboration

By : |October 21, 2008 0

NEW DELHI, INDIA:To any enterprise trying to compete globally, a seamless communication system would be most vital.

More so, at a time, when boundaries defining office workspace and home are blurring, the need for anytime anywhere collaboration has attained even greater significance. Needless to say, communication has gone far beyond the ambits of office environment, to serve an extended enterprise.

After all, aren’t people and their 24/7 availability in driving important decisions most crucial in any business success stories? In short, for effective collaboration with geographically dispersed coworkers, partners, customers, companies have been reinventing the use of technology.

And this is where real time collaboration has come into play. It no longer is just an internal tool, but it extends to partners and customers as well.

Internet has made possible much richer communication, in the form of real time collaboration, on both wired and wireless infrastructure.

Real time collaboration typically means using Internet and presence  technology to communicate with co-workers irrespective of where they are. It enables people to find peers or decision makers using a single telephone number or Internet address.

The technology integrates tools like e-mail, instant messaging, group chat, desktop sharing, co-browsing, and calendaring applications with communications devices and applications — telephony — wired and wireless; voice messaging; and audio, video, and Web conferencing to do all that and much more.

Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Lotus, SAP, Oracle, Avaya, Siemens, and Alcatel are among some of the leading vendors currently building real-time collaboration capability into their product suites.

On the other hand large system integrators and network integrators like Datacraft and Wipro are into actual deployment of these technologies.

Datacraft, incidentally achieved Master Specialization in Unified Communications during FY08; it also deployed Telepresence in 23 organizations and set up a lab at Rs 5 crore investment for R&D on realtime collaboration.

Collaboration Trend 

Some of the leading players in the space believe that India is entering into the second phase of the Internet usage, where the next major market transition will be driven by collaboration, facilitated by Web 2.0 technologies.

From a technology perspective, network is expected to emerge as the platform for the delivery of applications and services in order to enable flawless communication.

A lot of convergence of voice, video, and data with mobility that would further enable in-person collaboration and interaction is another trend that is predicted.

At present, the latest trends that vendors are exploring include personalization, online collaboration, and adaptivity–changing the online experience to reflect the visitor’s interests and behaviors. An interesting usage of this could be in focused marketing campaigns.

Currently, IT/ITeS, BFSI and manufacturing verticals are seeing wide-scale adoption. However, vendors think most verticals have the potential to use unified communication products as reasons like rising mobile workforce, and trends like flexi-timings, which require employees to have anytime, anywhere access, catch on.
 
Primarily, in most organizations platforms support voice and data based solutions, so the market looks lucrative.

The communication patterns of most enterprises in the next 3-5 years will be crucial indicator as to where the market is headed. While the feelers are strong for a tremendous positive growth, there is no clear direction how it will mature. Many believe the market for real time collaboration is still growing and evolving in India.

According to a forecast from Frost & Sullivan on unified communications in India the total market size is approximately $ 670 million in 2008 which is likely to grow to more than $1billion by 2010. Majority of this includes enterprise IP telephony (almost 50%) and applications like presence, mobility, whereas conferencing and collaboration are around 10%.

Vendors say that the highest growth area is around these applications which add maximum value to end users.

The reasons for the relatively slow adoption of technology could be many. Some new technologies, such as the presence  technology are not fully understood; in other cases best practices around usage are not defined; and also product integration is considered complex.

Most significant is the fact that the business case usually is difficult to sell as it is mostly based on soft returns on investment. Looks like vendors will have to push their case a little harder.

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