Most of us can agree that interoperability is the future of unified communications. Over the past year, we’ve made progress in the right direction. New Initiatives by Cisco and others have made it significantly easier for organizations to operate in a multi-vendor UC environment.
But the push for greater interoperability isn’t just an issue for vendors and industry insiders. Whether you know it or not, your business has a lot riding on interoperability and the effortless compatibility of UC systems.
Recent Developments in UC Interoperability
In August, Cisco Systems announced a big step forward in UC interoperability. The release of the Cisco Meeting Server allows Microsoft Skype for Business users to connect with Cisco users, as well as users relying on Polycom, Avaya and other vendors.
Until now, the divide between Microsoft and Cisco (the largest collaboration vendors in the UC marketplace) represented a serious hurdle in enterprise communications. Rather than achieving productivity gains through improved collaboration, Microsoft and Cisco users found themselves frustrated by the incompatibility of their respective systems.
At West’s Unified Communication Services, we’ve taken similar steps to improve UC interoperability with Video Meeting Gateway, a solution that offers total interoperability and seamless cross-platform communication across all devices for Skype for Business users.
But despite recent progress by Cisco and other UC vendors, the industry still has a long way to go. In the end, it’s about users and their ability to communicate in a world that is populated by a diverse mix of vendors, platforms and systems.
Why Interoperability Matters to Your Company
It’s important to recognize that the end game isn’t total standardization across platforms. Full standardization would inevitably lead to a commoditized market environment in which price would serve as the only differentiator between brands and products. Industry players would have no incentive to innovate and we would all suffer.
However, improved standards and greater interoperability are vital for the expanded use of UC in organizations across all industries. In fact, there are several reasons why your business has a vested interest in encouraging vendors to continue to increase the interoperability of their systems:
- Better returns on UC investments. Interoperability enables you to make smarter UC investments, knowing that the technology you select will work well with other systems. Just as importantly, interoperability increases the value of legacy technologies because it extends the working life of existing systems for seamless communication.
- Greater technological flexibility. Many business users prefer mix-and-match communications infrastructure. Seamless connectivity protects IT departments’ ability to create a technology environment that is tailored to their end users’ needs, making it easier to achieve goals and business improvement.
- Increased collaboration and productivity. Users benefit when systems work together without requiring additional steps or actions; and unified communications is supposed to improve collaboration and productivity – not hinder it. Interoperability removes barriers and keeps both internal and external channels of communication flowing in the organization.
Ultimately, we all want the same things: Clear channels of communication, more collaborative technologies and better business outcomes. And the best way to achieve these things is by pushing for greater interoperability between UC providers.