IBM Predicts Five Future Trends That Will Drive Unified Communications

ORLANDO, FL – 19 Mar 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) predicted five future trends that will increase demand for the fast-growing unified communications market and reshape the way businesses and workers communicate and collaborate worldwide.

IBM’s Unified Communications and Collaboration capabilities are illustrated by the transformation of product lifecycle management of everyday products, like a coffee maker. This graphic shows how a product designer in Italy uses Lotus Sametime capabilities to communicate with manufacturing engineers in China. Through the instant and dynamic exchange of 3D product mock-ups via Lotus Sametime and Dassault Systemes’ 3DLive application, product experts quickly address quality issues to help speed up the launch of a new product around the world.

The predictions, made in a keynote address by Mike Rhodin, General Manager of IBM Lotus software, at the VoiceCon conference here, include:

  1. The Virtual Workplace will become the rule. No need to leave the office. Just bring it along. Desk phones and desktop computers will gradually disappear, replaced by mobile devices, including laptops, that take on traditional office capabilities. Social networking tools and virtual world meeting experiences will simulate the feeling on being there in-person. Work models will be changed by expanded globalization and green business initiatives that reduce travel and encourage work at home.
  2. Instant Messaging and other real-time collaboration tools will become the norm, bypassing e-mail. Just as e-mail became a business necessity, a new generation of workers has a new expectation for instant messaging (IM) as the preferred method of business interaction. This will fuel more rapid adoption of unified communications as traditional IM becomes the core extension point for multi-modal communications.
  3. Beyond Phone Calls to Collaborative Business Processes. Companies will go beyond the initial capabilities of IM, like click-to-call and online presence, to deep integration with business processes and line-of-business applications, where they can realize the greatest benefit.
  4. Interoperability and Open Standards will tear down proprietary walls across business and public domains. Corporate demand for interoperability and maturing of industry standards will force unified communications providers to embrace interoperability. Converged, aggregated, and rich presence will allow businesses and individuals to better find and reach the appropriate resources, removing inefficiencies from business processes and daily lives.
  5. New meeting models will emerge. Hang up on routine, calendared conference calls. The definition of “meetings” will radically transform and become increasingly adhoc and instantaneous based on context and need. 3-D virtual world and gaming technologies will significantly influence online corporate meeting experiences to deliver more life-like experiences demanded by the next generation workers who will operate more efficiently in this familiar environment.

IDC estimates the unified communications market will reach $17 billion in worldwide revenue in 2011, growing at 38 percent compounded annually from 2007.* As such, IBM sees unified communications as the next significant frontier for technology growth. To meet these demands, IBM is investing significantly in a range of resources, including software, services and research. IBM has a growing number of social and collaborative software research projects with more than 70 researchers and more than 1,300 IBM software developers and technical experts contributing to unified communications. New technical skills programs for IBM developers are being used to help accelerate software development, including the teaching of Eclipse-based development. In addition, IBM’s Venture Capital program is working to identify and fuel promising new innovations in unified communications.

Part of this investment also covers a significant expansion of IBM Lotus Sametime software products. Work has also begun on blending IBM’s social software expertise into the real-time environment. The new Lotus Sametime Advanced software, available March 28, includes community tools that enable users to spend less time trying to figure out who can help solve a problem, by reaching out to a community of colleagues or experts instantly. The Lotus Sametime Advanced offering also features sophisticated collaboration features such as persistent group chat and instant screen sharing capabilities.

Large-scale adoption of IBM’s unified communications and collaboration platform and services is growing. IBM Global Technology Services is assisting clients around the globe to exploit the convergence of voice, video, and data. IDEA Cellular, a leading cellular operator and an Aditya Birla Group Company, is deploying a first-of-its-kind unified communications and collaboration solution with IBM and Cisco to help boost employee productivity and enhance business growth. IBM is providing the services, assets and skills to deliver consulting, design and architecture, implementation; thereby, seamlessly integrating the solution into the existing environment. The IBM investments will address clients’ requirements for integration of multi-platform environments and multiple network equipment providers, while masking the complexity of delivering the solution with a proven reference architecture to address mission critical business needs. IBM is heavily investing in training engineers, consultants and services professionals in IBM industry-leading Global Services Method and Reference Architectures, which have been applied to thousands of engagements.

A variety of leading companies from around the world are working with IBM software and services to deliver new unified communications solutions. For example, Avaya is developing a state-of-the-art unified communications solution including voice, fax, e-mail or instant message, based on IBM technology, for the Pennsylvania State Employee’s Credit Union. Forterra Systems is using IBM UC2 technology to develop a futuristic, unified communications solution code-named “Babel Bridge” that could allow U.S. intelligence agencies to use a common graphical collaboration system to instantly communicate within a virtual world. IBM Business Partner, VBrick is introducing the VBrick Video Plug-in for Lotus Sametime, the first product that streams live broadcasts and on-demand digital video content within the IBM Lotus Sametime environment.

For more information on IBM’s Unified Communications and Collaboration software and services, visit: