UCaaS : Foundation for Social Business Architecture

Ontario Province has recently become more proactive in asking the local industry for innovative new Cloud solution type models, such as UCaaS – Unified Communications as a Service.

This provides the ideal stimulus for development of the local Cloud supplier base, and to identify where the opportunities are for the additional innovation that Ontario is looking for, we can look at a number of different aspects of the Cloud industry.

Cloud and Social Business

The first and most important of these is ‘Social Business Architecture‘ – How to design applications to become more integrated with the world of social media.

While we often talk of the big industry battle taking place around Cloud as the main theme, it’s actually the field of ‘Social Business’ where key players stand to win or lose mind-share and therefore market share.

IBM, Microsoft, Cisco and Salesforce.com are all staking major bets, they all have major product lines, in the field of ‘Social Collaboration’, and it’s these cool and sexy features that are going to act as the catalyst for inspiring end-user demand that drives adoption of the underlying Cloud services.

For example the Microsoft offering is the combination of their Sharepoint collaboration software with their Unified Communications product set.

They also have groovy little tools like the `Social Connector‘, to integrate your social networks like Linkedin directly into your email.

Social Business Architecture

To gain a quick overview for IBM and also a good introduction into the open standards that define a common set of Social Business best practices, check out this IBM paper – Technical Strategy for Social Business (9-page PDF).

This provides a good overview of key technologies and standards that make define Social Business, which the vendors then implement.

For example for ‘Activity Streams‘ you can see these implemented in:

  • Salesforce.com Chatter – This provides the core Facebook-type interactivity between colleagues that is the foundation for Social Business.
  • For Microsoft their Sharepoint toolset offers a plethora of similar CMS-based features, like this one, and also highlighting a key point it’s also built into their UC client too, linked to Sharepoint. You can see a demo of it in this video, at sequence 1.35 mins.

There are many other features too, and this is an older video so there’s likely more new stuff on top, what is sitting on top of the software-approach that enables an organization to rid itself of old PBX equipment. A key point Ontario makes in their news article.

The key dynamic is this interplay between UC and Sharepoint, because the dynamism of the ‘find an expert’ search process that the demonstrate the UC client can be used for, is linked to how effectively Sharepoint is populated with the required data.

Cloud 2.0

This is not as easy as it sounds, indeed poor user adoption of these features is still a basic but show-stopping challenge that many adopters of these applications are dealing with.

Sharepoint is a wildly popular app but equally it’s wildly used, in terms of a lack of central standards or any uniformity in records indexing, resulting in ‘file chaos’.

How to address them, by using other tools like the ‘FAST’ Search engine they recently acquired, is the headline theme of our last white paper, Microsoft Cloud 2.0.

For example here is another video demonstrating how Sharepoint can be tailored for the same expert search process, through utilizing FAST.

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