In the early days of UC, “softphones” (screen-based PC telephony), offered UC flexibility where traditional desktop “hardphones” were lacking. It is still a viable alternative for wired, location-based telephony. However, mobile smartphones are making a huge dent in the consumer and business user markets for multimodal UC applications. That is, until the larger screen size of tablets came into the picture. Now, a user has two kinds of mobile devices, one convenient for the hand and one to carry along.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece on the subject of mobility and what the user experience would be like if the user was standing up or sitting down. Obviously, that experience will vary with the size of the device, the screen, and its impact on on the user interface. When worse comes to worse, and no screen can be looked at (e.g., driving a car), then speech interfaces come into play, and that is one good reason that mobility needs multimodal UC flexibility.
So, with UC convergence, business applications need to be endpoint device independent, not only in terms of screen-based interfaces vs. speech interfaces, but also based on the size of the screens for handheld devices , portable tablets and iPads, and wired desktop PCs. The choice will be based upon who the users are and what they need to do their jobs, whether premise-based or mobile. It is becoming intuitively obvious that most business users will want to use a single, personalized smartphone when mobile for both their business and personal contacts with “dual persona” access management and services (two addresses). In addition, they can also use a desktop device on a transient basis, using the current network address of their choice.
All this represents a significant shift in old telephony networks, but not to Internet communications, which have always been “virtual.” So, that’s what is shaking up the enterprise communications world while the migration shift slowly takes place. In the meantime, will multimodal PC “softphones” be replaced more easily by portable/mobile iPads and tablets when a bigger screen is needed for data output? How will the enterprise support such flexible mobile service with CEBP – based applications? Will the choice of mobile tablet become like the smartphones, that of the individual end users’?
Variance in device screen sizes brings with it the problems of standards, impact on Operating Systems, as well as the user applications themselves. The success of Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) will be very dependent on resolving these issues, because outbound notifications and information delivery to individual end users will be based on greater (process-to-person) accessibility through user mobility.