The Next Frontier for Collaboration

So why did I start on this?

After a long time, last weekend, I came across a pitch I used to take on our POV for Communications way back in 2007…I had predicted that something called “Air PBX” would replace all the then known Predominantly On-Premise Solutions by 2020…

Well I’m now in the start of 2019 and to me it looks like the concept of Air PBX is now prevalent as Cloud PBX from various vendors and is now the default start point of voice architecture. Only Laggards and some customers with genuine “Consistent” quality requirements remain on Legacy On-premise solutions. So much has changed in the Industry and I too have broadened my portfolio now covering the entire Collaboration Technologies. My outlook also has now changed and spearheaded by the frontline collaboration products…ahem…ahem… I’m referring to the Teams duo (WebEx Teams and Microsoft Teams) …

This weekend I was thinking what the scenario in collaboration in the next decade would be…and this followed…

Architecture Highlights for Collaboration in 2033, IMHO

Plenty of Architectures reviewed and Possibilities got analyzed in my head, and I settled on a few highlights that could define the Collaboration Architecture of 2033…

  1. All functionality of Collaboration Services would be available and consumed from Public Clouds.
  2. On-Premise solutions would exist but not as “Production” Equipment. On-Premise Solutions would be built and maintained to handle DR/BCP aka “Cloud Fall” situations
  3. PBX, Voicemail, SMS and ACD may be terms that will be found only in dictionary
  4. The Current Complexity of Multiple Products for Multiple Services will disappear, and Significant Convergence will happen on the Admin Front-End. Please do note that while “Services Endpoints” Collapse/unify, the “Consumption” Mechanisms will explode.
  5. The Diversity of “Communication and Collaboration” Management Teams will disappear and will be replaced by teams aligned to the prevalent vendors at that time. To Illustrate, the SME of vendor 1 will cover all technologies from voice, video, documents collaboration, messaging and the various modalities of consumption that will be normal by then…But this SME may not have any idea of how to get things done on vendor 2’s platform.
  6. Very few Enterprise SMEs will understand the backend complexity of the respective platforms and these too will be focused on managing the DR/BCP setups only.
  7. Identity, Privacy Policies and Data Protection used for communications and collaboration will be external to the vendor platforms unlike how it is tightly integrated currently.
  8. AI/ML based technologies will become utility and serve well understood services with full access to the user’s live and historical interactions. The Universal Policy Managers will ensure that Privacy is managed.

So how would the Collaboration Architecture of the Future look like?

Its Feb 2019 and things could change significantly both towards or away from what I believe will happen. I took a similar approach in 2007 when even Hosted PBX was not a normal practice. At that time UCaaS and Air PBX were terms with very few practical technologies available to make them a reality. But the market has moved in exactly the direction I predicted… I’m going to use a similar extrapolation this time… so here goes…

I believe the entire Architecture will be broadly clustered on four key Solution Units:

  1. Contact Service Providers
  2. Content Service Providers
  3. Security Policy Managers
  4. Consumption Technologies

Of these IT SMEs will have deep knowledge of only the Consumption Technologies. The rest will be of “Talkonology” grade and will be well versed only on the GUI/API based management. Only a few curious and ardent nerds will have knowledge of the inner workings, and their knowledge would be utilized in customer’s DR/BCP Build and management purposes.

Contact Service Providers

In the Current ecosystem this is led by the likes of Skype for Business Server Editions, Cisco UC Servers and similar IP PBX/UC Servers from multiple UC Vendors. IMO these functionalities will move to cloud-based platforms like Skype for Business Online, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx Teams and similar platforms…. Slowly and steadily these will build tight integration with Content Infrastructures in the backend.

The Contact Services themselves will become simplified with Unified Interfaces providing access to all Channels of Communications for the Users. The back-end however would be significantly more powerful and feature heavy than current UCaaS solutions.

Content Service Providers

In current ecosystem this is led by Microsoft SharePoint, Exchange and the various Knowledge Management products in the market like Salesforce.

As mentioned above these would merge from being separate products to a unified product in the admin front-end. Please do note that in the back end they will continue to be different with each service doing what it does best. This Product will also be handling all the data used by the ML Engines deployed in both back-end and Consumption devices. Governance will be handled by Universal Privacy Policy Managers

Security Policy Managers

To be candid our current ecosystem does have several wannabes in this product group, but none may be ready to take the overall nine yards.

The products in this group will be universal in the sense that they will work independent from to the contact and content platforms. This group may not be covered completely by any single platform as well unlike the contact and content products…

Consumption Technologies

This will be the most interesting group which will flourish widely and be the target of time spent by the Architects and Administrators of the Future

If you’ve been in this side of business, then these shouldn’t be too new. The only major difference will be that by 2033 these will be normal and significantly less complex… Also, the Legacy pieces may remain in some Laggards’ IT Portfolio….

Finally

I wanted to write a lot, but time is short and hence kept to a minimum… maybe I’ll write a follow-up in future…

To get an idea of how I was doing the extrapolation… You can check out my earlier blogs https://julianfrank.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/the-ucc-infrastructure/ and https://julianfrank.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/thoughts-on-ucc-first-a-recap-of-what-has-been-happening-so-far/ .

Happy Reading -.

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