Considering interoperability: Why SIP could be the next big thing in 2013, Part 2

In part one of this blog I shared my technology prediction for 2013, that the use of SIP URIs to communicate between employees and outside contacts would accelerate and have a significant impact on the future of work in Canada.

Now I’ll explain why this will be so important as we move forward in 2013.

With more of our lives moving online, there has been plenty of discussion lately around concepts of identity. Your personal online identity is the sum total of how you present yourself online, with some people using their real name, others operating anonymously, sometimes both. That’s not all – in our professional careers, many of us maintain an online corporate identity, through social networking sites like LinkedIn or others, and these are often separate and distinct from our (potentially several) personal identities.

As I mentioned before, as the number of devices and addresses that comprise our corporate identities grew, Single Number Reach emerged as a way to simplify communication.  Add to this the fact that SIP is capable of replacing that phone number, and it’s possible to see a future where one address (not a phone number) connects us on any device, at any time.

Continuing on this thought, if your organization is in the middle of rolling out video calling capability for some or all of its employees, which address makes more sense to use for video?  igallagh@cisco.com, or igallagh@video.cisco.com?

Some would say the latter, either instinctively, or because that is how their organization is already rolling out services. But in the interest of “single number reach”, the former is the only format that should be considered. Why? Because the latter suggests that the caller has to know ahead of time that you are specifically ready to accept a video call. If you’re not ready to take a video call, the call should reach you on whatever device you have, wherever you are. What we are looking for is multimedia single number reach.

Now interoperability is essential to consider here. Your phone number can be dialed by any other person in the world with a phone, regardless of which phone carrier they use, and regardless of the manufacturer of their phone. In the past couple of years, we have seen an emergence of literally hundreds of “Over The Top” services in the consumer space.  Applications like WhatsApp (I’m a huge fan!), Voxer, Skype, and many more share a couple of things in common. First, they all demand that the other party uses the same client – they are “closed systems” that either do not, or do not easily allow interoperability with other services. Secondly, partly as a result of the first, they don’t allow you to use a common identity to interact with others.

This is one of the biggest hindrances to the use of these services for business.  Without a single, common address to reach people at, one would have to use one of the other interoperable channels that does have a single common address (phone or email) to pre-arrange a communication session using another method – In short, I have to call in advance in order to have a video call. Further, even if you have a technology solution that IS interoperable, this procedurally gets broken if we use addresses like “igallagh@video.cisco.com“.

This is where SIP URIs can truly change the future of business communications. It’s one address, interoperable across any channel, any company and any device. Want to know more? Call me, using any standard SIP audio or video client, at SIP:igallagh@cisco.com. And try our Cisco Jabber client for free at www.ciscojabbervideo.com.

As you consider the collaboration strategy for your business, keep the following question in mind: Does my collaboration strategy include the ability for my employees to collaborate externally with ALL business partners and customers, using a single corporate identity? If so, make sure that your technology decisions do not dictate that the external parties you wish to collaborate with have made the same technology decisions.

About Ian Gallagher

Ian Gallagher is the general manager, collaboration for Cisco Canada. He leads a national team of collaboration product specialists responsible for working with Cisco partners and customers to create and execute business-impacting collaboration strategy and architecture. Ian Gallagher est Directeur général des services de collaboration de Cisco Canada. Il dirige une équipe nationale de spécialistes de produits collaboratifs dont la responsabilité est de travailler avec les partenaires et les clients de Cisco pour créer et exécuter une architecture et une stratégie collaboratives ayant un impact commercial.
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