Unified Communications ’09 is on next week at the Olympia Conference Centre in London. I anticipate there will be 70 or so businesses there pitching their wares, including Timico subsidiary KeConnect which has a joint stand with Cisco.
UC09 is a business to business show. It is worth reflecting on the fact that in the consumer world UC is racing ahead of what is typically available to business. Lets look at my son’s radio programme as an example.
Tom, as regular readers of this blog will know, has his own weekend breakfast show on Siren FM, a local community radio station in my home town of Lincoln (England). He has a website and a Facebook home page. The Wake Up To The Weekend homepage has 318 fans as I write and each show gets around 100 listener contacts/interactions.
Tom’s listeners are by and large teenagers in the Lincoln area. They listen to his show on their laptops whilst lying in bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings. When they want to conatct the show to request a song or enter a competition they send an IM via Facebook, or leave a message on the show’s wall.
Listeners also communicate via SMS and email. I doubt that many make phone calls but if Facebook had an embedded voip client then this would overcome a teenager’s cost objections to talking. The radio presenter could then escalate an IM request to a voice call – to talk to the winner of a competition for example. The show can also post photos, videos and recordings of bands they have had in the studio on the Facebook page.
So where is this leading to? For radio show read business. Companies are more and more going to have to move into this space. Corporate websites are going to change to reflect Facebook and Twitter-type functionality and begin to interact with their customers in real time in new ways.
Integration of a corporate communications strategy with Twitter has already been shown to be highly effective. Initially the domain of large corporates, smaller companies should easily embrace it. Customer care and marketing teams will sit “on the internet”. I anticipate doing this at Timico sooner rather than later.
As a footnote Tom’s biggest fan, me aside, is a person in Lincoln named Les. Les enters every one of Tom’s competitions and has frequent interactions with the show. Looking at his picture on the Facebook site it can be seen that Les is in fact probably in his sixties. This then is not just the domain of the teenager!
PS if anyone is at UC 09 and wants to meet up drop me a line.