Milton Keynes - 14th December 2016 Unified communications and collaboration has promised much in support of business transformation and productivity over the last few years. In reality, today most of us use more, rather than fewer, tools to communicate.

I recently wrote an article for Computing looking at how unified communications will solve the problem of fragmented communication in the workplace. Not only does using a range of different, and often ‘unofficial’ comms apps and tools at work mean comms is getting more disjointed, it also inevitably leads to complexity in terms of traceability and accountability.

Technology is aiding the shift from offline to online, where tools now operate as cloud based web apps without plug-ins - and they can be accessed easily from anywhere. This is paving the way for a new generation of ‘always on’ apps that could fundamentally change how we conduct task oriented communication.

This is called contextual communications, and it effectively integrates rich communication interactions with applications themselves or, as Dean Bubley at Disruptive Analysis says, it’s about: “both placing voice/video in context (e.g. embedded into an app, website or device) and applications which use contextual information to help the user achieve a particular objective or purpose.”

This approach will deliver fluid communications, integrated and immediate, aligning with how employees work and how customers interact with businesses and service providers. Ultimately, communication will become something that happens as we move in and out of the collaboration or communication phase of a task. The best contextual applications will provide this in a work environment by meshing in all the information needed to effectively exchange real-time and non-real time communication flows which are appropriate to the phase of each task. And the winners will be those applications that help users according to their context in a way that is intuitive.

Author: Rob Pickering

Rob Pickering is founder and CEO at IP Cortex. Previously, he has held a variety of technical roles and fondly remembers the days when he was a proper engineer and wrote a TCP/IP protocol stack from scratch for a microprocessor vendor.